‍Background‍


Social Constructivism also referred to as Vygotsky's Constructivist theory is one of the foundations for Constructivism. The theory places emphasis on culture and social context for cognitive development.(Vygotsky,1978) argues that social interaction precedes development,consciousness and cognition of the end product of socialization and social behaviour. Vygotsky's theory is based on 3 major themes namely:
  • Social Interaction: This refers to the process of cognitive development, in which the learner displays it's function both on the social level (between people) and independently.
  • The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO): This refers to a learning through anyone with a better understanding or more knowledgeable in the subject area. This could be a task, process or concept. The MKO does not have to be a teacher or coach or an older person, it could be a peer, younger person or even a computer.
  • The Zonal Proximal Development (ZPD): This refers to the time between the learner's ability to perform a task under guidance or with peer collaboration and the time the learner performs the task independently. Vygotsky argues that learning occurs in the zone while focusing on the connection between the people and the social cultural context in which they act and interact in shared experiences. In concluding, According to Vygotsky, humans use tools such as speech and writing to facilitate learning and development in a social environment.

In recent times, social constructivism is fast becoming important at different levels of software engineering in order to foster social environment.The human and social aspect of software engineering trickles down to process work flows. Requirement elicitation is a social process (Macauley,1993). Design process depends on mutual co-operation while the success of pair programming, one of the core practices of extreme programming depends on the acknowledgement of its social nature (Chong & Harbutt 2007). However, the ascent of the web in the 1990s opened a new vista for people to communicate, discuss, debate or interact in a variety of ways globally thus leading to the social construction of meaning.



Definition


Social constructivismis defined as the view that the material world shapes and is shaped by human actions and interaction dependent on dynamic normative and epistemic interpretation of the material world. (Mitchel, 2011).
Social constructivism also stresses on the importance of culture and context in the understanding of things that takes place in society and the construction of knowledge based on these occurrences.
As Vygotsky strongly believed that community plays a central role in cognition, his development theories emphasised on the important role social interaction plays in the development of cognition (Vygotsky, 1978), as he believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of understanding things.

Social constructivism as described by (Berger and Luckman,1966), is a truism that human agents construct and reproduce social reality through their daily practices .
Berger and Luckman 1966, argue that knowledge of everyday reality is derived from and managed by social interaction



Assumptions of Social Constructivism


Social Constructivism is based on assumptions made on the following three elements:
  • Reality: Experts of Social Constructivism believe that reality is based on human activities. They believe it is impossible to discover reality as it is non-existence.
  • Knowledge: Social Constructivists also believe that knowledge is an output of humans. It is constructed both socially and culturally. Human interaction with one another and their environment leads to the creation of meaningful lives.
  • Learning: Learning is viewed as a social process. It happens when individuals interact socially. Knowledge claims are never objective because knowledge is a human construction.

Inter-subjectivity of Social Meanings


Intersubjectivity is the sharing of common ideas by individuals who may have common interest and may also make common assumptions which may form the bases of their communication. When people communicate this way, knowledge is shaped and improved upon. This is because these ideas held in common by these people are sometimes socially agreed upon. This makes intersubjectivity simple because the ideas are community based. This means the ideas are beliefs accepted by the whole community.


Agile and Social Constructivism


In Agile one of the fundamental values considered to be a critical success factor is effective communication and Interaction. Communication is defined as the art of transmitting information between individuals. The need to communicate effectively encompasses software development, operations and support. Developers and users must communicate, developers and operation staff must communicate, developers and management must communicate and that is how it continues. The power of Agile method lies in collaboration, flexibility and dedication to the business value of software as reflected in the core principles of Agile manifesto, The Agile Manifesto emphasizes individual and interactions over processes and tools and customer collaboration hence social constructivism. Social constructivism allows learning and social interaction between individuals working together, it emphasizes the various ways in which communication takes place socially, for example, face-to-face, video conferencing and many others.
Learning is a social process and it occurs when people bring thier diverse interest and also collaborate by communicating,negotiating and sharing.Most Agile methodologies encourages collaboration among all who are involve in the project. The Agile Organising Framework (AOF)supports the fundamental proposition of social constructivist pedagogy,
‍it provides an appropraite foundation for identifying the characteristics of enablers and inhibitors of an agile learning environment. Communication and interaction is reflected through the core practises of agile methods such as during retrospective meetings and rapid feedback. The use of the social constructivist approach in software development is to get the team to interact and communicate, thus forcing a clear understanding of the task ahead of them because people create meaning through their interactions with one another. Teams gain and learn from each other and are more effective than when working individually.


Advantages and disadvantage of Social constructivism


Advantages

  • Social constructivism promotes learning through collaboration
  • It helps to increase the awareness of the interactions between the individual, interpersonal and cultural historical factors that afffect learning
  • It helps learner to build, organize and construct their own knowledge based on what they have learnt
  • It promotes knowledge sharing between the teacher and learner
  • It facilitates cognitive growth
  • It promotes democratic learning environment

Disadvantage

  • It can be difficult to apply in a new environment



References


Agile Manifesto(2012) The manifesto for Agile Software Development Available Online at: www.agilealliance.org/the-alliance/the-agile-manifesto/ [Accessed 29 February, 2012]
Berger, P.L. and Luckman, T. (1966) The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books
Kamthan, P. (2009) A Methodology for Integrating the social web environment in Software Engineering Education. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, Volume 5, Issue 2 , Concordia University Canada, Available Online at: www.igi-global.com [Accessed 29 February, 2012]
Kim, B. (2001) Social Constructivism In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology. Available Online at:
http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/SocialConstructivism.htm [Accessed: 25 February, 2012]‍
McMahon, M. (1997) Social Constructivism and the World Wide Web - a Paradigm for Learning. Available Online at:
http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth97/papers/mcmahon/mcmahon.html[Accessed 29 February, 2012]‍
Mitchell, W. (2010) Agile Sense-Making in the Battlespace. The international C2 Journal, Volume 4, Number 1
Nicole M. Radziwill & Morgan C. Benton (2011) A Part for Exploring the Agile Organizing Framework in Technology Education. Available Online at:http://nicoleradziwill.com/portfolio/BentonRadz_Agile2011AOF.pdf [Assessed: 26 February, 2012]
Robert W. (2008) Social Development Theory (Vygotsky's) (Available online at) http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html [Accessed on 6th of May, 2006]