Current Research in Psychology

Towards the Decline and fall of Radical and Educational Constructivism (Mark I)

James Carifio and Rocco J. Perla

DOI : 10.3844/crpsp.2010.1.15

Current Research in Psychology

Volume 1, 2010

Pages 1-15


Problem statement: In 1974, McKeachie published a brief article in The Educational Researcher called, “The Decline and Fall of the Laws of Learning”. Approach: This article was primarily about the decline and fall of the behaviorist laws of learning and radical behaviorism, both of which were never quite the same in psychology or education after this article as before it was published. The purpose of the present article is to start of the process of developing and refining a series of core and critical analyses of radical constructivism, modified (radical) constructivism and “educational constructivism’ that will initiate the process of the decline and fall of these views from educational circles and certain psychological and sociological circles and have these flavors of constructivism replaced by modern, sound, empirically documented and supported views and theories(yes, theories) of learning and cognition. Results: Our purpose is to begin the process of doing a critique similar to McKeachie’s on “educational constructivism”, as it is as unscientific and misguided as behaviorism was in the sixties and not much different from behaviorism in the sixties, as it is in numerous ways the opposite end of the same misguided and non-scientific continuum and more of a philosophy of learning than a scientific theory. The criticisms of constructivism to date have primarily been philosophical as opposed to psychological, learning theory centered and scientific theory centered, which is the primary focus in this article. As many leading scholars have noted, (educational) constructivism is the dominant paradigm and ‘theory” in science education and social science education today. Science education in particular simply cannot have a dominant paradigm that is unscientific, non-theoretical in the modern sense of scientific theory and essentially “Creationist Science” in character. Conclusion: This current state of affairs is simply too radical of a core contradiction and cannot be supported or maintained any longer as an egocentric fad that may simply pass on and fade away. The “McKeachie Cycle” for these flavors of constructivism needs to both begin and quickly end.


© 2010 James Carifio and Rocco J. Perla. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.