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Comparing Behaviorist-Oriented & Constructivist-Oriented

Instructional Strategy Components



Behaviorist-Oriented Instructional Strategies (2)

Constructivist-Oriented Instructional Strategies (3)



Pre-instructional Activities


Motivate the learners (gain & maintain attention)


State goal(s) & objectives


Stimulate recall of prerequisites (i.e. pretest, state necessary prerequisites, etc.)


Establish a meaningful, purposeful instructional context that encompasses all instructional strategies


Initiate orienting activities in which the purpose for personally engaging in the instruction is clearly established


Early interactions within the instructional context should facilitate the setting of personal goals relative to sucCOEding within the impending instructional experience


Present a "Big Picture" that focuses attention on the bigger conceptual, intellectual, and/or social contexts in which the current instructional goals reside.


Implement strategies to help learners identify in some way those skills, knowledge, and attitudes (SKA) already needed to sucCOEd within the new learning environment


Establish cooperative groups, and communicate clearly-perceived learner accountability, role(s) and task(s)


Establish clearly-perceived instructor role(s) and learner support mechanisms



Information Presentation


Present information in a sequence that is most appropriate for the type(s) of skill(s) being facilitated


Present clear examples and nonexamples


Clearly identify access to learning scaffolds, especially procedural scaffolds (guidance on how to utilize resources and tools such as how-to sheets, tutorials, and examples)


Additional learning scaffolds ---conceptual, metacognitive, strategic --- should be available when needed (these may include “behaviorist-oriented” lessons designed to facilitate specific skills)



Learner Participation


Provide practice over exact skills indicated within objectives, with timely feedback


Provide opportunities to explore the overall learning environment with minimal instructor guidance and intervention……but make guidance available to learners as they apply information presented to the skills, knowledge and attitudes being facilitated


Practice over individual skills embedded throughout the experience




Pretest & Posttest eliciting the exact skills indicated within the objectives are implemented


“Posttests” are generally represented by the successful completion of projects, with analytic rubrics provided throughout the experience to guide the learners toward success


Follow-Through Activities


Remediation activities


Enrichment activities


Memorization and “job aid” use rehearsal


Transfer of learning by applying skills within new situations


Provide opportunities for learners to summarize the key ideas emerging from the learning experience. This might include the generation of concept or mind maps.


Provide opportunities for the learners to reflect upon and articulate what they learned and how they personally learned it.  This might involve assessing their final projects using analytic or holistic rubrics.


Provide opportunities for the learners to identify how their newly-acquired skills, knowledge and attitudes fit into the "Big Picture" defined at the beginning of the experience.


(1) These components are derived from the instructional design model described by Dick & Carey (1996).  This model is based on the behavioral and cognitive learning theories of Robert Gagne (1992). 

(2) For excellent information summarizing the main principles defining behaviorist learning theories, see the summaries of Edward Thorndike and B. F. Skinner at Greg Kearsley’s Theory into Practice Database [see].

(3) These strategies were culled from a variety of constructivist-oriented instructional models.  These models are described in more detail on the A Sampler of Different Types of Constructivist-Oriented Instructional Models page. 

There are also links to some interesting articles related to constructivism at the following sites:


Download information about constructivist-oriented strategies here:


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This page last modified on August 09, 2002.

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