Read about constructivism with an example of how I have applied it in a previous nursing education career.

Constructivism-based Learning Activity

In my behaviourist-based activity, I planned a gamified online quiz for student nurses learning about the medication families and their side effects. The activity this week would be extended with a group activity aimed to continue with this learning and identifying the risks associated with each medication.

In this learning activity, students would be provided with several patient case studies which would include the patient’s diagnoses, symptoms and medications that they were taking. Before asking the student’s to pair off, the facilitator asks the student to read the case study and write down a few thoughts on how the medications support the patient’s diagnoses.

Once the students are paired off into groups with the same case study, they would be asked to explore the side effects of each medication and identify any risks associated with these side effects.

The next part of the group activity is for the students to identify and rank the top three risks for each medication and question one another on why they chose their top three. Finally, they would propose nursing interventions to mitigate these risks (problem-solving) and share them with the wider student body.

The activity is layered with a few different learnings along the way which build up to (scaffold) the end result of making decisions about the patient’s care and prioritising these. Overall, my intention is to build their medication knowledge while at the same time, building their critical thinking skills.

Skills in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

As this activity flows on from the Behaviourist theory-based activity, the students would have prior knowledge of the medication families and would have the Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) readily available to them so that they could locate the side effects and medication families again if needed. The process of looking up the AMH is a skill in itself and one that I would encourage to reinforce this skill. The students would also have prior anatomy and physiology knowledge which would underpin, or lead their decision making around the identification of the risks for the patient and the appropriate nursing interventions required however this would be part of the activity that would stretch them the most (enter the ZPD).

The facilitator would move from group to group and listen in to the students discussions to determine if they are on the right track and if not, start by offering gentle suggestions to help them on the right path. They will also provide encouragement to those who are on the right track.

The scaffolding strategy

A scaffolding strategy that would be employed in this activity is the presence of a qualified nursing facilitator (with more knowledge than the students) who can support the students as they move through the experience. The facilitator would be encouraged to help the students tap into their prior or related knowledge or to pause and ask questions to help the student reach the answers on their own (Alber, 2014).

The social constructivist strategy

This activity has social constructivism at its core as it emphasizes collaborative learning through the think-pair-share approach (Brame and Biel 2015).


This activity could be run online through an online live classroom with breakout rooms for each group or it could be delivered face-to-face. The AMH is available online and therefore would be readily available in both settings.

The facilitator also has the ability to purposefully choosing who will be in which group by taking note of which case study has gone to which students. This allows the facilitator the option of placing students with higher mastery of the content with students who may be struggling. This adds another layer of social constructivism with the higher graded students supporting the lower graded students.


Alber, R., 2014. 6 Scaffolding Strategies To Use With Your Students. [online] Edutopia. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Brame, C. and Biel, R., 2015. Group Work: Using Cooperative Learning Groups Effectively. [online] Vanderbilt University. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 October 2020].

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