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Constructivist theory: Examining discovery learning in a primary classroom

20 January 1995


This paper is a summary of research and observations regarding constructivist practices in the elementary school setting. Constructivist theory, in this paper, is defined as a theory of education that involves teaching students to gain new knowledge by basing that new knowledge on what they already know, and by practicing hands-on learning. A constructivist teacher facilitates cooperative, project based and hands-on learning opportunities and limits the use of lecturing the students may receive on any given subject matter. The observations for this study were done over a two and one-half month period, from September to mid-November. They were recorded in a first and second grade multi-age, multi year classroom in a suburb of a large city in the Pacific Northwest. This paper also examines the impact of constructivist practices on students as they prepare for their state exams at the tenth grade level.


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