You are here:

Computer-Based Microworlds: A Bridge between Constructivism and Direct Instruction


The field of instructional technology is characterized by its products, such as instructional media, and its processes, such as instructional design. The process of instructional technology has been shaped by advances in learning and instructional theory over the past 50 years. Much of the development work of the field to date has been on direct instruction, or instruction based largely on the application of behavioral principles. Most computer applications are based on principles of programmed instruction--the computer becoming the ultimate teaching machine. In contrast to behavioral learning, constructivism, a faction within cognitive psychology associated with the application of Piagetian learning theory, is characterized by discovery and experiential learning. Constructivists have sought to tap the computational power of modern microcomputers to create computer "microworlds" where learners can experience and appropriate sophisticated ideas from (but not limited to) the domains of science and mathematics. Probably the most well-known computer applications of constructivism is LOGO. Proponents of constructivism and direct instruction are usually viewed in opposition to one another. It is suggested that computer microworlds offer an immediate compromise between these two camps. In this paper, constructivism and microworlds, as well as related research on mental models, misconceptions in science, and intrinsic motivation are reviewed. Finally, some considerations are offered in the design of microworlds which can be used as an aid to direct instruction. These design considerations are presented in the context of "Space Shuttle Commander," a prototype project developed to teach motion concepts based on compromises between principles of constructivism and direct instruction. (68 references) (Author/BBM)


Rieber, L.P. Computer-Based Microworlds: A Bridge between Constructivism and Direct Instruction. Retrieved September 23, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on March 21, 2014. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact