Tamanna’s team had a big presentation to make to a major client. It was by far the most important of their experience and they were quite nervous about it. They finished making all their budgets and plans well ahead of time and then spent the three days before the big pitch in role-playing activities, with some people presenting and others acting as the client. When it was time to make the actual presentation, Tamanna and her colleagues were so well prepared that they walked into the client’s office with the confidence to handle anything that came their way.
This is an example of a constructivist approach to learning in the workplace. Let’s take a closer look at what this involves.
Meaning Of Constructivism
Constructivism is a psychological theory of learning that holds that people construct knowledge by connecting new information to what they already know. Developed in the 20th century by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, it’s a process-based approach to learning where learners take in new information, organize it and integrate it with their existing knowledge. Several other educators, such as Maria Montessori, the creator of the Montessori method used widely in early learning, also used similar foundations in their method. Here are some features of constructivism theory:
As per constructivist learning theory, the mind is much more influenced by our environment than was previously believed. The brain, according to cognitive growth theory, develops through natural learning and mental practice. Rather than being formed in a static environment, people are shaped by their experiences.
Learners shouldn’t be passive recipients of information. Instead, they’re active agents who help determine how knowledge will be developed and applied.
With the learner central to constructivist teaching, the goal of the teacher or instructor is to guide them on their own journey. They may use methods, such as scaffolding, to help learners achieve the desired outcomes.
The constructivism approach allows for varying levels of engagement between the learner, teacher and the content. The goal is for learners to become actively involved in their own learning and to gain more control over their own educational process than they might be in a traditional educational set-up, while still mastering the skills and information needed.
What Is Active Learning?
While exploring the meaning of constructivism, we learned a key feature of the constructivist approach is active learning. Let’s dig deeper to understand what this actually means:
Student At The Center
The concept of active learning relies on a student-centered approach where learners use resources, such as textbooks or online tools or in-class instruction, to gain new information. Students have to analyze and reflect on the concept, creating their own understanding of the information being presented. Their own experience, culture and worldview are the prism through which they view this information and shape the takeaway from it. Information isn’t equal to knowledge in constructivist theory.
Collaborate To Succeed
Learning teams are a form of group work with the goal of building communication and collaboration skills. These differ from traditional classroom activities because they promote voluntary participation in the activity, step-by-step, goal-oriented learning and feedback. Students collaborate on projects that not only enhance their learning but also teach them how to work well with others.
Action And Reflection
Reflective practice is another crucial part of the constructivist model. Active learning involves self-knowledge and self-analysis. There’s an inherent element of creative construction of meaning, in which the learner’s own experience is a relevant part of the learning process. By practicing reflection, learners develop skills that can apply to their future endeavors. The reflective practitioner model uses components such as questioning, elaboration and analysis to assist learners in understanding the ideas they have and to actively process and apply them.
These features of the constructivism approach have been widely adopted in modern educational and teaching practice, from the classroom to corporate training seminars. They feel familiar because many of us have experienced them, most often with other teaching methods.
Why Constructivism Theory Matters In The Workplace
As we have seen, components of constructivism have been widely adopted in formal learning for several decades now. Outside of the educational field, incorporating constructivism theory can have benefits for employees looking to reach the next level of success. Let’s look at a few of these factors:
Constructivism puts the onus of learning on the learner themselves. In a business environment, it’s important that employees not just learn on the job, but also learn how to grow and develop in their position. Constructivist learning theory allows the employee to go beyond simply understanding what’s happening in a situation and take an active role in creating success.
Typical constructivist activities help the learner learn a new set of knowledge and skills. This requires the learner to reflect on how to apply the learning to their daily lives. This way of thinking can train professionals to reflect and adapt to workplace situations and respond thoughtfully, even in a crisis.
Many Ways To Achieve Goals
The foundation of the constructivism approach is that people are open to new learning opportunities and as they realize their own needs, they seek to fulfill them. The way they learn, however, could be different. In the past, an employee might have been taught a single way to do a job. Today, organizations realize the benefits that can result from helping employees to move ahead in ways that fit in with their own learning styles. There are many ways to accomplish goals.
Constructivist learning theory has been applied in business to create an environment that enables employees to become successful managers and executives.
How Constructivism Can Help Organizational Development
It’s clear that adopting constructivist theory has benefits for individual learners. But it also appears that the constructivist perspective in business has applications beyond individual growth. Businesses benefit from understanding their employees and what motivates them in order to better help them achieve organizational goals. In addition, when employees can grow in their existing roles and organizations, it makes for a satisfied workforce. Here’s how constructivism can help organizations grow and develop:
Keeps Goals Front And Center
Constructivist learning allows the employee to go beyond simply understanding what’s happening in a situation to take an active role in creating success. In order for this process to be effective, an individual must have a purpose. By leading employees in the organization to a deeper understanding of its goals, individuals will know what they’re working for and be able to actively move toward it.
The foundation of a constructivist learning environment is collaboration, which is both the process and the result of learning. Groups of people work together to accomplish common goals and they often learn things at a faster rate than those that don’t. Coordinating efforts can save time and resources. This requires communication and teamwork skills, as well as respect for the individual capacities of each person on the team.
Builds A Team Approach
With collaboration being a key value of this learning method, the natural result is better team building. Teams that learn together from the same experience are often more effective than teams that have rigid management or leadership. When a business hires employees to work in a team, it needs to provide them with opportunities to grow their collaborative muscle.
The constructivist perspective in learning is important in business, especially for employees who must understand and adapt to new situations. Integrating the true meaning of constructivism into human resource policy will help teams advance, and thus the organization too.
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