A Curated Virtual Event

2022 ACT Conference

October 22, 2022

The ACT 2022 Annual Conference, Constructing an Understanding of How the World Works, will be held virtually on October 22. We continue to deepen our conversations on the tenets of constructivist teaching and how learners and their teachers construct knowledge and understanding of how the world works.

Constructivist teaching is rooted in Piaget’s theory of cognitive and social development which focuses on the structure of human knowledge and the process by which it is constructed. Founding members of ACT, Dr. Rheta DeVries and Dr. Constance Kamii were both students of Piaget and are often referred to as the “mothers of constructivist education”. They encouraged teachers and their students to create their own unique embodiment of the paradigm, while staying grounded in certain necessary elements of constructivism. At this conference, we invite educators to add to the conversation on the constructivist elements of:

An active school.

Piaget (1948/1973) advocated for active schooling in order to produce “full development of the human personality” (p. 87). He asserted “the right to find in these schools all that is necessary to the building of a questioning mind and a dynamic moral conscience” (p. 92). Constructivist educators design activities in constructivist classrooms to appeal to student’s interests, engage them in experimentation, and involve cooperation with others (DeVries & Kohlberg, 1987/1990). However, saying that a school is active does not necessarily mean that it is constructivist. One has to specify the nature of constructive activity, especially the specifics of mental activity.


Piaget (1945/1962) pointed out the role of play in the formation of symbolic thought and discussed certain socioemotional benefits of play. However, Piaget (1948/1973) did criticize “an excess of unsupervised liberty which ended in generalized play without much educational benefit” (pp. 6-7). Thus, it is possible to have a play-oriented classroom that is not constructivist go beyond a global justification to clearer analyses of precisely what is the value of activities in which we engage students. What is there in this experience for students to figure out? 


In the constructivist paradigm, the most desirable work occurs when students are pursuing their own purposes in figuring out how to do something. Csikszentmihalyi's (1990) notion of “flow” can be applied to much of student work and play in constructivist classrooms.

The learner-teacher relationship and the social-emotional environment.

Perhaps the most important implication Kamii and DeVries drew from Piaget’s work is that teachers must establish egalitarian, cooperative relationships with children and avoid being unnecessarily coercive in order to promote child autonomy.

The three kinds of knowledge.

Piaget’s (e.g., 1969/1970, 1970) distinction between physical and logico-mathematical knowledge proves to have practical utility to teachers. With Sinclair’s additional conception of arbitrary conventional knowledge, teachers can use these distinctions to decide when to give children information (arbitrary conventional knowledge), when to encourage children to experiment with objects (physical knowledge), and/or when to encourage the construction of relationships (logico-mathematical knowledge).

We welcome your proposal to present new ideas, projects, activities, panel discussions, and more to help guide our conversation about the tenets of constructivist teaching as we continue to move forward in this changing world.


Piaget 2.0? Toward Lifelong Sensorimotor Mathematics Learning


Dr. Dor Abrahamson

Dor Abrahamson (PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2004) is a Professor at the Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley, where he runs the Embodied Design Research Laboratory. Abrahamson is a design-based researcher who invents pedagogical technologies for teaching and learning mathematics. He analyzes data gathered in the course of evaluating these products to develop theoretical models of cognitive and social process leading to insight and fluency. Abrahamson is particularly interested in relations between learning to move in new ways and learning mathematics concepts. His research has been funded by federal agencies and private foundations. Otherwise, Dor enjoys playing the cello, hiking, biking, reading, and spending time with his family and pets.

Register Now

The fee for conference entry and membership renewal is free for students and seniors and $50 for everyone else. Those attending in person are invited as guests for a pre-conference celebrating the work of Dr. Rheta DeVries on October 21 complements of the Iowa Regents' Center. Download our Conference Flyer for more details. 

Submit a Proposal 

Limit of 150 characters including spaces (approximately 15 words).
Include a three-line description for the conference program.
Intended Audience(Required)

Presenter Information

ACT accepts proposals from individuals, co-presenters, and multiple presenters (e.g. panel discussions)

First/lead presenter: This is the presenter we will contact. It is the responsibility of the lead presenter to contact other presenters.

For additional presenters include their name, title, affiliation and brief bio.
Presentation Format(Required)
Note: Even if you pre-record your session, you are expected to include a live Q&A time during your presentation
Accepted file types: doc, docx, Max. file size: 64 MB.
Upload the proposal as a Microsoft Word document. All proposals will be peer reviewed.
The proposal should include:
  • The purpose of the session
  • Goals and outcomes of the session
  • How you will engage participants virtually
  • Specifically address how the session’s content and structure relates to constructivist pedagogy and the conference’s theme: Constructing an Understanding of How the World Works

ACT depends on registration fees to pay for the expenses associated with sponsoring this conference. Please note that all presenters are expected to register for the conference and pay the required conference fees.