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Constructivism Bibliography

Constructivism

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by Annie and John Selden

November, 1996

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The following annotated list of references is not linked to any particular Research Sampler column. It was prepared as a supplement to our talk "Constructivism in Mathematics Education -- What Does It Mean?" given at the RUMEC Conference on Research in Mathematics Education held at Central Michigan University, Sept. 5-8, 1996.


  1. Bettencourt, A. (1993). The construction of knowledge: A radical constructivist view. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education (pp. 39-50). Washington, DC: AAAS Press.

    Gives four constraints on knowledge that can be constructed: one's previous constructions, interactions with others, one's experience, "fit" with the rest of one's knowledge.

  2. Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development. Educational Researcher, 23(7), 13-20.

    Describes the (psychological) constructivist and sociocultural views as complementary -- each "tells half a good story," with the former using terms like accommodation, and the latter, terms like appropriation.
  3. Cobb, P. & Yackel E. (1995). Constructivist, emergent, and sociocultural perspectives in the context of developmental research. In D. T. Owens, M. K. Reed & G. M. Millsaps, Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Vol. 1 (pp. 3-29). Columbus, OH: ERIC/CSMEE Publications (SE 057 176).

    Differentiates between psychological constructivist, sociocultural, and emergent (social constructivist) perspectives mainly with regard to the conduct of research, and to a lesser extent, teaching.

  4. Dubinsky, E. (1992). Reflective abstraction in advanced mathematical thinking. In D. Tall (Ed.), Advanced Mathematical Thinking (pp. 95-124). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

    An extension of Piagetian ideas to the learning of university level mathematics, emphasizing the " genetic decompositions of concepts," i.e., descriptions, based on empirical data and an understanding of the mathematics involved, of the constructions a student might make.

  5. Ernest, P. (1991). The Philosophy of Mathematics Education. London: Falmer Press.

    Influenced by David Bloor and SSK, Ernest proposes a philosophy of mathematics called "social constructivism," which sees mathematics as fallible and objective as meaning socially agreed upon.

  6. Golden, G. A. (1990). Epistemology, constructivism, and discovery learning of mathematics. In R. B. Davis, C. A. Maher & N. Noddings (Eds.), Constructivist Views on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (pp. 31-47). Reston, VA: NCTM.

    Argues in favor of "moderate constructivism" and takes issue with radical constructivism from the viewpoint of a physicist who directs the Rutgers Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education.

  7. Kilpatrick, J. (1987). What constructivism might be in mathematics education. In J. C. Bergeron, N. Herscovics & C. Kieran (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eleventh Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 2-27). Montreal: University of Montreal.

    A critique of radical constructivism, together with a common core that most mathematics education researchers today accept. Available through ERIC/CSMEE (SE 055 633).

  8. Martin, J. & Sugarman, J. (1996). Bridging social constructionism and cognitive constructivism: A psychology of human possibility and constraint. A revised version of an invited address by the first author presented at the AERA annual meeting in New York. (Available from Jack Martin, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6.)

    The sociocultural view (of the appropriation of cultural practices through conversation) does not explain how individual creativity arises, and cognitive constructivism does not account for how individuals come to take knowledge as shared. The authors propose a mechanism whereby individuals are constrained, but not determined by, the surrounding culture. Sophisticated memory capabilities and imagination, together with personal experiences, allow revision of appropriated ideas.

  9. Linn, M.C. & Burbules, N. C. (1993). Construction of knowledge and group learning. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education (pp. 91-119). Washington, DC: AAAS Press.

    Argues that advocating group learning for knowledge construction oversimplifies issues concerning the social structure of groups, individuals' goals, and the diverse nature of knowledge construction. Problems include " groupthink," group acceptance of the first idea generated, use of everyday arguments, etc.

  10. Phillips, D. C. (1995). The good, the bad, and the ugly: The many faces of constructivism. Educational Researcher, 24(7), 5-12.

    Takes an exceptionally broad view of constructivism, considering authors like v. Glasersfeld, Piaget, Dewey, Kant, Kuhn, and various feminists. What's good is the emphasis on active participation by the learner. What's bad is the tendency toward relativism and the " jettisoning of any substantial rational justification." What's ugly is the tendency toward sectarianism -- each "harbors some distrust of its rivals."

  11. Sismondo, S. (1993). Some social constructions. Social Studies of Science, 23, 515-53.

    An attempt to sort out what various authors in the social studies of science consider to be socially constructed: knowledge, facts, theories, representations, etc.

  12. Slezak, P. (1994). Sociology of scientific knowledge and scientific education: Part I. Science and Education, 3, 265-294. Sociology of scientific knowledge and scientific education Part II: Laboratory Life under the Microscope. Science and Education, 3 , 328-355.

    A critique, especially of Latour and Woolgar's Laboratory Life, calling SSK "an extravagant deconstructionist nihilism according to which all science is fiction and the world is said to be socially constructed by negotiation," along with the admonition that science teachers resist its findings.

  13. Steffe, L. P. & Gale, J. (1995). Constructivism in Education. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Six alternative paradigms of constructivism, applying to fields from mathematics education to family therapy, are considered: radical constructivism (v. Glasersfeld), social constructionism (K. Gergen), information-processing constructivism (R. Spiro), cybernetic systems (F. Steier), sociocultural approaches (J. Wertsch), and social constructivism (H. Bauersfeld).

  14. Steffe, L. P. & Kieren, T. (1994). Radical constructivism and mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 25, 711-733.

    An historical account, in JRME's 25th anniversary special issue, describing Piaget's cognitive-development psychology, the "preconstructivist revolution" of the 70s, and JRME's role, from the early 80s on, as a forum for debate of issues related to constructivism within mathematics education.

  15. von Glasersfeld, E. (1983). Learning as a constructive activity. In J. C. Bergeron and N. Herscovics (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 41-69). Montreal: University of Montreal.

    The paper in which radical constructivism "burst onto the international scene." (P. Ernest) Available through ERIC/CSMEE (ED 289 688).

  16. von Glasersfeld, E. (1990). An exposition of constructivism: Why some like it radical. In R. B. Davis, C. A. Maher & N. Noddings (Eds.), Constructivist Views on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (pp. 19-29). Reston, VA: NCTM.

    A brief overview explaining why constructivism "needs to be radical," explaining viability and how one can "manage without the traditional notion of Truth."

  17. von Glasersfeld, E. (1993). Questions and answers about radical constructivism. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education (pp. 23-38). Washington, DC: AAAS Press.

    Brief, and mostly easy-to-read, answers to forty-two questions regarding epistemology, the role of "social interaction," and implications of the constructivist orientation for teaching.

  18. von Glasersfeld, E. (1995). Radical Constructivism: A Way of Knowing and Learning. London: Falmer Press.

    "The definitive theoretical account of radical constructivism." (P. Ernest) An autobiographical first chapter lets you in on how v. Glasersfeld came to his views.

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