Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Muller, M., Buchheister, K., Boutte, G. (2017). Multiple perspectives on cognitive development: Radical constructivism, cognitive constructivism, sociocultural theory, and critical theory. The Constructivist, 2 - 34.


This multi-vocal article represents the work of three teacher educators. In conjunction with Glasersfeld’s (1996) description of Radical Constructivism, we agree that any theory “cannot claim to be anything but one approach to the age-old problem of knowing. Only its application in contexts where a theory of knowing makes a difference can show whether or not it can be considered a viable approach.” (von Glasersfeld, 1996, p. 309). In this conceptual piece, we examined the relationship between Radical Constructivism and three distinct, yet sometimes overlapping, theories: 1) Cognitive Constructivism 2) Sociocultural Theory; and 3) Critical Theory. First, we discuss the key premises, elements, and/or assumptions of each theory as well as points of convergence and divergence between each theory and Radical Constructivism. Secondly, we will analyze the opening vignette through the three different theoretical lenses.

Buchheister Constructivist-Fall2017.pdf (2533 kB)
Full issue (Fall 2017)