Assessment in a Constructivist Classroom
Brooks and Brooks (1993) describe what assessment in a
constructivist classroom looks like: Rather than saying "No" when
a student does not give the exact answer being sought, the
constructivist teacher attempts to understand the student's current
thinking about the topic. Through nonjudgmental questioning, the
teacher leads the student to construct new understanding and
acquire new skills. Constructivists believe that assessment should
be used as a tool to enhance both the student's learning and the
teacher's understanding of the student's current understanding. It
should not be used as an accountability tool that makes some
students feel good about themselves and causes others to give up.
Below is a list of the important principles that guide the work of
a constructivist teacher:
- Constructivist teachers encourage and accept student autonomy
- Constructivist teachers use raw data and primary sources along
with manipulative, interactive, and physical materials.
- Constructivist teachers use cognitive terminology such as
"classify," "analyze," "predict," and "create" when framing tasks.
- Constructivist teachers allow student responses to drive
lessons, shift instructional strategies, and alter content.
- Constructivist teachers inquire about students' understandings
of concepts before sharing their own understandings of those
- Constructivist teachers encourage students to engage in
dialogue both with the teacher and with one another.
- Constructivist teachers encourage student inquiry by asking
thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask
questions of each other.
- Constructivist teachers seek elaboration of students' initial
- Constructivist teachers engage students in experiences that
might engender contradictions to their initial hypotheses and then
- Constructivist teachers allow a waiting time after posing
- Constructivist teachers provide time for students to construct
relationships and create metaphors.
- Constructivist teachers nurture students' natural curiosity
through frequent use of the learning cycle model (Brooks & Brooks,
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