Toward the Application of Constructivism and Constructionism to Work-Related Training in Service of the Enhancement of Human Capital Development in Postsecondary Education Settings in the United States

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Media coverage continually reports on global macroeconomic shifts and technology trends, skill mismatches, and their impacts on US employment conditions and global economic competitiveness. Education research and employer surveys reveal that the skill gap in the United States spans across the realms of academic foundations, industry qualifications and technical competencies, higher-order cognitive skills, and behavioral skills and values: Recent US business, education, and military research has uncovered skill shortages spanning technical and industry-specific competencies, higher-order cognitive skills such as analysis, critical thinking, and synthesis, as well as behavioral skills and values such as work ethic, integrity, and good citizenship. These US findings are echoed by executive opinion surveys and policy research conducted by international researchers including OECD and the World Economic Forum. The social fabric and economic soundness of nations is closely tied to populations’ education and skills as individuals’ full economic and societal participation cannot occur without relevant knowledge and skills. Drawing on human capital theory, international studies of practical human capital conditions, and experiential-learning theory and practice, this dissertation offers educational strategies for cultivating the skills widely cited as needed but in short supply in US business, military, education, and policy circles. The purpose of this investigation was to identify key components of the two theoretical models of constructivism and constructionism which have been found to enhance children's intellectual and affective development and to apply these components to career instruction in postsecondary education settings. Through a critical analysis of existing theory and research related to human capital, constructivism, and constructionism, the components which might be logically applied to workforce development in postsecondary career education settings in the United States were identified. The goal of applying constructivist and constructionist strategies would be to empower postsecondary career learners to internalize their career fields' knowledge base and its practical applications as well as strengthen learners' analytical skills, creativity, perseverance, ethics, and behavioral workplace competencies. To accomplish this goal, seven core components were distilled from constructivism and constructionism: the whole person, knowledge structures, strategically prepared learning environments, the teacher as expert guide and subtle facilitator, experiential learning, social interaction and collaborative learning, and reflection.
Original languageAmerican English
  • Insley, Patricia K., Supervisor, External person
Date of AwardMar 25 2015
StatePublished - Mar 25 2015

Bibliographical note

Also published on ERIC as Document No. ED556116.
(ERIC description
(full-text ERIC document:


  • Constructivism (Learning)
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Human Capital,
  • Vocational Education
  • Labor Force Development
  • Job Skills
  • Cognitive Structures
  • Experiential Learning
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Reflection
  • Teacher Role
  • Educational Environment
  • Interpersonal Relationship
  • Career Education
  • Economic impact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Education


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