Constructivism vs. Constructionism: Is There a Difference?


Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) constructivism focuses on children’s interests and their abilities to achieve and perform throughout their different developmental stages. The theory concentrates on the evolution of children’s thinking and learning process. Piaget believed that children were in a constant state of revising and constructing their own knowledge through the acquisition of experience.

Piaget’s Constructivism theory focuses on questions like

· What can children do and at what age in their developmental cycle?
· How does children’s knowledge change over time as they gain new experiences?


Seymour Papert’s (1928 - )

· Worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies
· Worked with Piaget in Geneva in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s
· Developed the theory of constructionism

Constructionism, in contrast to Piaget’s Constructivism theory, focuses on the art and process of learning, and how people learn to learn and create through the use of media and context. Papert’s interests lie in people’s interaction and engagement with tools, media or artifacts and how such experiences help to enhance people’s construction of knowledge – an area that Piaget overlooked. Papert believes that people’s interaction with such media is crucial to their personal development and learning. He believes that intelligence should be measured by people’s ability to be “connected,” exposed and adapt to new media and changes in their environment.

Papert’s Constructionism theory focuses on

· Learning by creating through media and context such as computer-based and educational technologies vs. learning through cognitive developmental stages
· How is knowledge constructed, affected and processed through people’s interaction with different media and contexts?
· How does people’s cultural background affect how they interact with media and construct knowledge?
· How does the students’ level of interaction with the media and teacher affect the construction of knowledge?

What Can Constructivism and Constructionism Teach Us About Education?

1. How should we think about education reform?
2. How can we use educational technological tools and media to help students construct knowledge?


Ackermann, E. (2001) Piaget's constructivism, Papert's constructionism: What's the difference? In Future of Learning Group Publication: