Publication 5282

Ernest P. (1996) Varieties of constructivism: A framework for comparison. In: Steffe L. P., Nesher P., Cobb P., Goldin G. A. & Greer B. (eds.) Theories of mathematical learning. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale: 315–350. Fulltext at
Excerpt: Following the seminal influence of Jean Piaget, constructivism is emerging as perhaps the major research paradigm in mathematics education. This is particularly the case for psychological research in mathematics education, However, rather than solving all of the problems for our field, this raises a number of new ones. Elsewhere 1 have explored the differences between the constructivism of Piaget and that of von Glasersfeld (Ernest, 1991b) and have suggested how social constructivism can be developed, and how it differs in its assumptions from radical constructivism (Ernest, 1990, 1991a). Here I wish to begin to consider further questions, including the following: What is constructivism, and what different varieties are there? In addition to the explicit principles on which its varieties are based, what underlying metaphors and epistemologies do they assume? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the different varieties? What do they offer as tools for researching the teaching and learning of mathematics? In particular, what does radical constructivism offer that is unique? And last but not least: What are the implications for the teaching of mathematics?

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