Hot Issues of Skills Development

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Constructionism Perspectives on Learning and Assessment Yujiro Yamazaki
  • Training Quality and Relevance

In recent years, constructionist approaches have been gaining attention in learning theory. Gipps (2001) points out that the traditional behaviorism-based educational evaluation theory is a “block-stacking learning model” in which knowledge is accumulated by strengthening the stimulus-response coupling, and higher-order complex knowledge is acquired. The problem with this view of knowledge was that it was based on “how we learn” and discarded the cognitive processes and contexts related to knowledge acquisition. In contrast, the constructionism views of knowledge do not teach knowledge by decontextualizing it but rather by saying that knowledge is closely related to the individual’s environment and that knowledge is constructed through social interactions.

Since the constructionist view of learning is a view of learning based on the ideas of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Dewey, and is discussed in detail based on each picture, a comprehensive definition of constructionism needs to be reserved, but Kubota (2000) identified the following as common perceptions of the constructionist view of learning: (1) the dynamic nature of learning, (2) the situation-dependent nature of knowledge, and (3) the interactive nature of learning.

Due to the nature of constructionism perspectives on learning, in educational evaluation, the learning process depends on the context of the individual learner. Therefore, conventional tests based on multiple-choice formats and rote memorization cannot adequately measure learning outcomes, and other evaluation methods are being sought. Portfolio assessment and rubric assessment, which are currently being implemented in active learning, reflect this trend.

Portfolio assessment is a method of evaluation based on the reports, examination papers, videos, and photos that learners record of their learning process and activities. It is used to evaluate individual abilities that cannot be captured only by results such as subject tests. Rubric evaluation is a method of evaluation that uses a table that lists specific achievement goals for learning activities and the criteria for achieving them. It is used as an approach that allows learners to reflect on their stages of learning from a table that lists specific criteria and steps. These assessment methods capture how learners are learning by clearly showing the learning process rather than just evaluating the test scores.

On the other hand, the evaluation of constructionism perspectives on learning remains a challenge.

  • When only self-assessment is used, the credibility of the assessment is unclear.

The construction of knowledge in constructionism is done through the individual’s interaction with the surrounding context. By its nature, knowledge exists in the context-dependent subjective perception of the individual, and it is difficult to make objective judgments. For this reason, self-evaluation methods are adopted, but it is necessary to consider how credible they are (see the article “Self-evaluation vs. evaluation by others”).

  • Increasing the burden on learners and educators during the evaluation

The aforementioned portfolio evaluation and rubric evaluation have been pointed out as possible evaluation methods for constructionist learning through empirical research (Yoshikawa and Ueno 2010: Matsushita 2014). On the other hand, one common issue is that they impose a burden on students and educators for evaluation. Portfolio assessment has received much attention as an assessment method. Still, at the implementation level, it has been noted that efforts have been complicated due to the cost of implementation and the burden it imposes on learners and educators (Afrianto 2017). It has been pointed out that rubric evaluation requires a lot of effort and time for educators to create evaluation charts that ensure validity and credibility (Matsushita et al. 2013).

In Japan, “inquiry learning” will be a crucial concept in the high school curriculum guidelines in 2022. Exploratory learning is an educational approach that starts from the individual student’s awareness of a problem and fosters the student’s investigation of that problem. It is expected to drive more attention to the constructionist view of learning in the future. It looks beyond subject testing to nurture students’ motivation to learn and non-cognitive abilities.



  • Afrianto, A. (2017) Challenges of Using Portfolio Assessment as an Alternative Assessment Method for Teaching English in Indonesian Schools. International Journal of Educational Best Practices (IJEBP). Vol. 1 No. 2. pp. 106-114
  • ギップス, V. C. (2001) 『新しい評価を求めて テスト教育の終罵』鈴木秀幸訳, 論創社.
  • 久保田賢一(2000)『構成主義パラダイムと学習環境デザイン』関西大学出版部.
  • 松下佳代・小野和宏・高橋雄介(2013)「レポート評価におけるルーブリックの開発とその信頼性の検討」『大学教育学会誌』35(1): 107-15.
  • 吉野厚・植野真臣 (2010) 「学習評価のデザイン」『人工知能学会誌』25巻2号.