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Constructivism vs. Social Constructivism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 20, 2024
Constructivism emphasizes individuals building knowledge through experiences; Social Constructivism focuses on knowledge shaped by social interactions.

Key Differences

Constructivism is a learning theory positing that individuals construct knowledge from their experiences. In contrast, Social Constructivism extends this idea by emphasizing that social interactions and cultural context play a crucial role in this knowledge construction process.
Constructivism revolves around personal experiences shaping one's understanding of the world. Social Constructivism, however, argues that this understanding is deeply influenced by societal norms, language, and communication with others.
In Constructivism, learning is seen as a highly individual process. On the other hand, Social Constructivism views learning as a collaborative and communal activity, where knowledge is co-constructed through interactions.
Constructivism focuses on how individual cognitive processes lead to understanding. In contrast, Social Constructivism pays more attention to the role of cultural and social influences in shaping one's cognitive abilities and knowledge.
Constructivism emphasizes the learner's active role in knowledge acquisition. Social Constructivism, however, highlights the critical role of social context and interaction in facilitating this active learning process.

Comparison Chart


Individual experiences
Social interactions and culture

Learning Process

Individual cognitive development
Collaborative and influenced by social context

Role of Culture

Less emphasized
Central to the learning process

Knowledge Acquisition

Through personal exploration
Through social engagement and dialogue

Educational Approach

Learner-centered, individual
Community-centered, collaborative

Constructivism and Social Constructivism Definitions


Constructivism is the theory that knowledge is constructed by the learner through experience.
In constructivism, a student learning about gravity by dropping objects is constructing knowledge firsthand.

Social Constructivism

Social Constructivism highlights the significance of dialogue and interaction in the construction of knowledge.
Social constructivism is evident in classrooms where students learn by engaging in group debates and discussions.


Constructivism asserts that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it.
A constructivist classroom encourages students to solve real-world problems, developing understanding through experience.

Social Constructivism

Social Constructivism posits that learning is a communal process, where knowledge is built collaboratively.
Social constructivism in science education involves collaborative experiments and shared analysis.


Constructivism emphasizes the importance of active engagement in learning, where understanding is self-constructed.
Constructivism in math involves students discovering formulas through hands-on activities rather than memorizing them.

Social Constructivism

Social Constructivism emphasizes the role of cultural and social influences in shaping one's understanding of the world.
In social constructivism, understanding global cultures comes from interacting with people from different backgrounds.


Constructivism focuses on the learner's role in making sense of information based on personal experiences.
In constructivism, a child learning to read by relating letters to familiar objects is using personal experiences.

Social Constructivism

Social Constructivism is the theory that social interactions and cultural context are fundamental in developing knowledge.
In social constructivism, students learning through group discussions are constructing knowledge socially.


Constructivism posits that knowledge is a subjective construction, unique to each individual based on their experiences.
Constructivist teaching involves students interpreting historical events from their perspectives.

Social Constructivism

Social Constructivism suggests that knowledge is co-constructed and shaped by shared experiences and social discourse.
A social constructivist approach to learning languages involves practicing through conversation with native speakers.


A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects.


(arts) A Russian movement in modern art characterized by the creation of nonrepresentational geometric objects using industrial materials.


(mathematics) A philosophy that asserts the need to construct a mathematical object to prove it exists.


A psychological epistemology which argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from their experiences.


An abstractionist artistic movement in Russia after World War I; industrial materials were used to construct nonrepresentational objects


What is constructivism?

Constructivism is a learning theory that suggests individuals construct knowledge through their experiences.

Can constructivism be applied in all learning environments?

Yes, constructivism can be applied in various learning environments, focusing on experiential and active learning.

Is social constructivism relevant in online education?

Absolutely, social constructivism is relevant in online education, especially in collaborative and interactive learning platforms.

Can constructivism be used in teaching mathematics?

Constructivism can be effectively used in teaching mathematics by encouraging students to discover and understand mathematical concepts through problem-solving and experimentation.

How does culture influence learning in social constructivism?

In social constructivism, culture influences learning by shaping the contexts and interactions through which knowledge is constructed.

How does constructivism affect teaching methods?

Constructivism affects teaching methods by encouraging hands-on, exploratory, and student-centered learning approaches.

What is the role of the teacher in a constructivist classroom?

In a constructivist classroom, the teacher's role is to facilitate, guide, and provide opportunities for experiential learning.

How does social constructivism differ from constructivism?

Social constructivism extends constructivism by emphasizing the role of social interactions and cultural context in the construction of knowledge.

Does social constructivism imply group work is essential?

Yes, social constructivism often involves group work, emphasizing collaboration and social interaction in learning.

Does social constructivism support the use of technology in education?

Yes, social constructivism supports the use of technology, especially tools that promote collaborative and interactive learning.

What are the challenges of implementing constructivism in traditional classrooms?

Challenges include adapting curriculum, changing teacher-centered methodologies, and ensuring active student participation.

How does social constructivism facilitate lifelong learning?

Social constructivism facilitates lifelong learning by developing skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and adaptability to different perspectives.

Can social constructivism be effective in individualistic cultures?

Yes, social constructivism can be effective in individualistic cultures by adapting to emphasize collaborative learning within a context valuing individuality.

Are constructivist approaches suitable for all subjects?

Constructivist approaches are generally suitable for all subjects, though the implementation may vary depending on the subject matter.

How do social interactions enhance learning in social constructivism?

In social constructivism, social interactions enhance learning by providing diverse perspectives, fostering dialogue, and creating a shared understanding.

How does constructivism impact student assessment?

Constructivism impacts student assessment by focusing on holistic, process-oriented, and individualized evaluation methods.

Can social constructivism be applied in adult education?

Social constructivism is highly applicable in adult education, particularly in collaborative and experiential learning settings.

What is the importance of personal experiences in constructivism?

Personal experiences are crucial in constructivism as they form the foundation upon which individuals construct their understanding.

Does social constructivism require a specific classroom layout?

While not mandatory, social constructivism benefits from a classroom layout that promotes interaction, such as circular or group seating arrangements.

How does constructivism influence curriculum design?

Constructivism influences curriculum design by encouraging the integration of real-world problems, interactive activities, and learner-centered approaches.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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