A mission statement for constructivist learning:
We need to organize learning environments and activities that include opportunities for acquiring basic skills, knowledge, and conceptual understanding, not as isolated dimensions of intellectual activity, but as contributions to students’ development of strong identities as individual learners and as more effective participants in the meaningful social practices of their learning communities in school and elsewhere in their lives (Greeno, et al., 1998, p. 17)
In other words, learners need to develop individual competence, but within a context of effective participation within groups and communities.
Constructivist teaching practices involve active techniques such as experiments and real-world problem solving. Learners in constructivist classes are assigned tasks in which they must implement particular instructional goals in “genuine,” real-world tasks. Student projects can range from the development of web pages to participation in large, ongoing collaborative resource projects that involve many students and faculty over many years of development (Bass and Rosenzweig, 1999). Barr and Tagg contend that constructivism is a new “Learning Paradigm” shifting from passive learning to more active learning where students are active participants and constructors of their own learning (1995). The roles of teachers and students shift in the constructivist classroom; the teacher provides guidance and students help plan their own learning.