Publication 7263

Doolittle P. E. & Camp W. G. (1999) Constructivism: The career and technical education perspective. Journal of Vocational and Technical Education 16(1): 23–46. Fulltext at
For over three-quarters of a century, the implicit learning theory underlying the curriculum and pedagogy of career and technical education has been behaviorism, but the emerging theory of constructivism may have implications for career and technical education practice in the future. Preparation of workers for entry into and advancement in the workplace of the next decade requires an educational program that provides not only job skills, as career and technical education did throughout the 1900s, but also higher order thinking, problem solving, and collaborative work skills. Classical behaviorist theory does not adequately address the latter kinds of learning, but constructivist theory may. Constructivist principles are examined in light of the fundamental requirements of career and technical education as we move into the new century with a new name for a redesigned profession. Of the three basic types of constructivism discussed, cognitive constructivism is most compatible with career and technical education. The authors recommend a more thorough examination of the relative efficacy of behaviorism and cognitive constructivism to serve as the learning theory on which to base career and technical education in the future. To embrace such a foundational change, leaders in the profession must re-think many of the fundamental assumptions underlying the mission, curriculum, and pedagogy of career and technical education. Perhaps such a rethinking is due.




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