Didaktics of media: Constructionism vs. behaviorism

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.


As I started the course late (I couldn’t join the first course because of another overlapping exam) I had no goals set for this week.

What have I learned:

We started the course with the explanation for the last lessons course (which again, I missed). We had the task to remember five hand signs without context. The signs had been american Indian hand signs which meant: “Tipi”, “Putting war color on”, “good”, “bad”, “coming together”. We also learned that it is easier to remember something, if we can put it in relation (the difference between only knowing the signs and knowing the meaning of the signs).

The topic of the lesson was¬†Constructionism vs. behaviorism, two different theories of how people learn. Main takeaway for me:¬†I like constructionism more than behaviorism. Obviously you can’t choose which theory is correct/better by gut feeling, but in my idealized world, constructionism is the way to go. Reasons for my choice is the acknowledgement that a learner is an unique individual and every learner is different. Behaviorism on the other hand treats learners more like a mathematical function. Given the correct parameter, the desired result is delivered (impulse reaction schemata).

Besides an experiment which proved to me that behaviorism works on me, I still like constructionism more. Again, that has nothing to do with the effectiveness or correctness of that theory.

In the context of cultural background I also learned that in the USA students swear to uphold the academic standards, which to me as an German seemed odd. Our professor explained it by our (Germans) history: The nationalists let the people swear as well, therefore it is discouraged in modern Germany.

Additionally I learned that I worked with Logo in my secondary school! I have fond memories about the computer course where we would draw signs and pattern with a program I only remembered as Turtle.

I also learned that the famous experiment of Pawlow (ring a bell, dog start to salivate) is an example of behaviorism.