Standard Article

Cognitive Constructivism

  1. George G. Hruby,
  2. Anthony B. Roegiers

Published Online: 5 NOV 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0146

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

How to Cite

Hruby, G. G. and Roegiers, A. B. 2012. Cognitive Constructivism. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 NOV 2012


Cognitive constructivism is an umbrella term for a host of related epistemological and psychological theories about the nature of knowledge and how it is formed through a knower's mental (hence cognitive) processes. As the metaphor of construction implies, cognitive constructivist theories assume that knowledge is a thing made by the mind rather than received from a source. Knowledge, in this view, is not transmitted all of a piece with meaning intact or contained, nor accrued piecemeal and then reconstituted. Rather, knowledge is said to be constructed, or actively structured, by a knower's mental processes even as particular purposes and contextual constraints guide the result. The anthropomorphic image of a builder or bricoleur (tinkerer) creating a knowledge structure, edifice, or machine is occasionally employed to illustrate this metaphor of mental process, and may be helpful if not taken too literally.


  • applied psychology;
  • cognitive development;
  • cognitive science;
  • neurolinguistics;
  • psycholinguistics;
  • theoretical linguistics