A team of researchers recently conducted a meta-analysis reviewing studies comparing the effectiveness of the traditional transmission model and newer approaches to teaching and learning.
More precisely, the article focused on the teaching of mathematics in mainland China, and analyzed almost 125 studies conducted on over 12,000 students.
In the traditional transmission instructional model, “students’ tasks are to passively acquire teacher-specified knowledge and skills” (all quotes are from the original article.) To the contrary, constructivist approaches envision knowledge as being “actively created by the learner, not passively received from the environment.”
More precisely, the authors focused on the following:
Results showed that all 5 approaches were more effective than traditional transmission, with comparable effects equivalent to several months of teaching and learning.
Interestingly, the effect was the strongest for cooperative learning, and the weakest for autonomous learning.
However, the authors also found that improved transmission models were just as effective as constructivist approaches. Such models include:
Reference: Xie, Wang, and Hu (2018), “Effects of Constructivists and Transmission Instructional Models on Mathematics Achievement in Mainland China: a Meta-Analysis”, Frontiers in Psychology, October 2018.