Kinds of Constructivism:
An Annotated Bibliography


Back to Constructivism


The following bibliography was prepared by Annie and John Selden as a supplement to "Constructivism in Mathematics Education -- What Does It Mean?" - a talk they gave at the 1996 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Orlando.


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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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 advocacting 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 in explaining that why constructivism "needs to be radical," explaining viability and that one can "manage without the traditional notion of Truth."
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.
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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