Three C's

By the time this assignment is due, we will have read about and discussed the core learning and educational theories that this class is based on: Constructionism, Constructivism and Critical Pedagogy. These theories are broad and contain many ideas and concepts. The goal of this writing assignment is for you to critically reflect on and synthesize these theories in relation to each other, and to use these theories to articulate your theoretical stance as a designer of learning technologies.

The paper should be around 1500 words. This is a rough guideline; rather than trying to hit or stay under the word limit, focus on writing a coherent and complete essay.

Your essay should be a concise synthesis of the relevant ideas of constructionism, constructivism and critical pedagogy. The synthesis should build on the papers we have read and our class discussions, and you should ground your work in the readings by including quotations and engaging with specific points from the readings. You should address constructionism, constructivism and critical pedagogy, but there is no expectation that you'll work with every reading. The synthesis should be structured by how the theories frame the model of learner (Who is the learner and how does she/he learn/operate?), the model of learning (How does the actual process of learning takes place for each learner?), the model of knowing (What does it mean to “know” something? What is “knowledge”?) and the model of schooling (What are school and education for?).

  • What each theory shares with the others and where it is distinct.
  • Where the theories are clear and where there is more flexibility or lack of clarity.
  • A discussion of the implications for your work as designer of learning technologies. This means that you should take up some of the generative themes or big ideas addressed in the paper and elaborate on how they might inform approaches to developing technology-rich learning environments or products targeted at particular populations of learners, educational topics, or learning situations of your interest.

Then position yourself with respect to these ideas. How can they help you understand the population you want to work with, the ideas you want to explore, or the problem you want to solve? To do this effectively, you will need to explain your area of interest, use the points you made earlier to frame it in theretical terms, and then explain how this theoretical engagement points toward ways of understanding it or solving the problem.

Part 1

Submit your initial writing for this essay, in one of the following forms:

  • A draft (legible to somebody else!), possibly with some gaps or open questions.
  • A complete outline of your argument, probably with quotations.
  • Some substantial prewriting, such as freewriting or heavily-annotated quotations.


  • It feels like you're at least halfway to your final essay.
  • ✓ - It doesn't.

Part 2

Submit your final essay to Canvas.


✓ - ✓ +
Theories BUT the essay is cursory, vague, or significantly misinterprets one or more of the theories. The essay accurately summarizes each of the three theories, distinguishing them from one another. AND the essay clearly traces learner/learning/knowing through the theories and productively engages with relationships between the theories, making specific points about shared assumptions and tensions.
Engagement with papers BUT quotations are inadequate, misinterpreted, or not well-integrated into the essay. The essay consistently uses quotations or cited paraphrases from the papers to illustrate rather than presenting the quotations as self-evident, the author integrates quotations into the essay’s argument. AND the quotations/ paraphrases are deployed to address central themes or important nuances of the papers. The integration of textual evidence into the essay is purposeful and effective.
Positioning BUT the connection between your concerns and these theories may be vague unproductive. You bring up a population, ideas, or problem, and use these theories to make sense of it. The result should be a clearer articulation of how you understand the problem, setting the stage to consider solutions. AND the interplay between theoretical ideas and your concrete description of the issue is generative. The essay is lively and interesting.