Difference Between Constructivism and Social Constructivism

Key Difference – Constructivism vs Social Constructivism 


 

Constructivism and social constructivism are two learning theories between which some differences can be identified. Along with the development of the social sciences, psychologists and sociologists were interested in comprehending how people acquire knowledge and generate meaning. Constructivism and social constructivism as theories emerged in such a backdrop. Simple, constructivism can be introduced as a learning theory that describes how humans learn and acquire knowledge. Since this theory aimed at unraveling the relationship between human experience and the creation of knowledge, it had a tremendous impact on various disciplines such as psychology, sociology, education, etc. On the other hand, Social Constructivism is a learning theory that highlights the significance of social interactions and the role of culture in creating knowledge. The key difference between the two theories stems from the emphasis that each theory lays on experiences and social interactions. In constructivism, the emphasis is on personal experiences in constructing knowledge, but in social constructivism the emphasis is on social interactions and culture.

What is Constructivism?

Constructivism can be understood as a learning theory that describes how humans learn and acquire knowledge. This theory highlights that people construct knowledge through the experiences that they gain in real life and also generate meaning. Jean Piaget is often known as the founder of constructivism, although there are other individuals who are also considered as key figures. Some of these key individuals are John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, Richard Rorty and Giambattista Vico.

Constructivism emphasizes that learning is an active process in which the human being functions as a constructor of knowledge. According to this theory, the knowledge that people have, are not merely acquired but constructed. Even in the case of an objective reality, the interpretations that people give to the situation is often subjective. This subjective representation of knowledge is a result of past experiences of the individual.

Difference Between Constructivism and Social Constructivism

Jean Piaget

What is Social Constructivism?

Social constructivism is also another learning theory that highlights the significance of social interactions and the role of culture in creating knowledge. Lev Vygotsky is considered a key figure in social constructivism. Unlike in constructivism that highlights on personal experiences, this theory highlights on social factors. It explains that social interaction is the key to constructing knowledge.

Some of the key assumptions of social constructivism are that the reality is created by human interaction, knowledge is also a social production, and the process of learning is social. In this sense as people interact with others in society their knowledge changes and broadens. For example, a person who has a specific understanding of a group of individuals, or ideology can change their opinion as a result of social interaction.

Key Difference - Constructivism vs Social Constructivism

Lev Vygotsky

What is the difference between Constructivism and Social Constructivism?

Definitions of Constructivism and Social Constructivism:

Constructivism: Constructivism is a learning theory that describes how humans learn and acquire knowledge.

Social Constructivism: Social constructivism is a learning theory that highlights the significance of social interactions and the role of culture in creating knowledge.

Characteristics of Constructivism and Social Constructivism:

Learning Process:

Constructivism: Constructivism considers learning as an active process.

Social Constructivism: Social constructivism also considers learning as an active process.

Emphasis:

Constructivism: Emphasis is on individual experiences.

Social Constructivism: Emphasis is on social interactions and culture.

Key Figures:

Constructivism: Piaget is considered the founder of Constructivism.

Social Constructivism: Vygotsky is considered the key figure in Social constructivism.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Genf 12 J-Piaget By Traumrune via Wikimedia Commons

2. “Lev Vygotsky 1896-1934” by The Vigotsky Project  [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons