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Transcript of learning theories
adapting to our constantly evolving culture
Learning theories are made up of conceptual frameworks including Constructivism, Social Constructivism, Behaviourism, Humanism and Cognitivism. These theories describe how information is absorbed, processed and retained. Personal experiences, emotional experiences and the external environment influence learning theories.
As environments, society and cultures change and the increased use of the internet, existing theories are adapting and evolving into new theories, eg Connectivism.
Constructivism & Social Constructivism
A brief timeline of the history, theory and learner outcomes of five theories of learning.
The learning theory of behaviourism is explained by funderstanding.com (2011) as focused on the observation of human behaviour discounting any psychological involvement.
"Behaviourists believe that all behaviours are the result of conditioning. Any person, regardless of their background, can be trained to act in a particular manner given the right conditioning" (Cherry, n.d.).
For the purpose of entertainment the television series ‘The Big Bang Theory’ has demonstrated operant conditioning (Zarhejo, 2009).
Operant conditioning is a manner of learning that explores behaviours through reinforcement and punishment and is a voluntary behaviour. (Cherry, n.d.). When you do something correctly, you receive a reward (a high five). If you do not do what is requested you receive a punishment (a time out).
There are two types of conditioning;
Operant and Classical Conditioning.
Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs involuntarily as a reaction to both neutral and non-neutral stimuli. Pavlov’s contribution to behaviourism began with his study of dogs. He noticed his dogs drooled every time he fed them. He discovered that if he sounded a tone (neutral stimuli) every time he fed them, the dogs started to drool at the sound, even if no food followed (non-neutral stimuli). (SparkNotes, 2005).
The humanistic theory developed in the 1960’s and focuses on the humans' self drive, potential and stresses the good in human behaviour.
This theory suggests that individuals are highly value driven and believes that learning is a personal act to fulfil ones potential. (Learning-Theories, 2015).
Abraham Maslow built his theory on the notion that experience is primary in the study of human learning. Maslow’s theory stresses the importance of human qualities such as choice, creativity, values and self-realisation. He believed that meaningfulness and subjectivity were more important than objectivity. (Maslow, Abraham H. 1908-1970).
Emphasising individual’s choices and strengths are positive factors, however, critics argue that because it is based on philosophical concepts, research in humanistic psychology is unreliable and not scientifically testable (Study.com, 2015).
Connectivism supports learning in the 21st Century where technology and digitalism is the foundation of everyday living. Learners are able to be connected to networks which enables learning to occur in non-human appliances. With a diminishing life span of knowledge occurring (Gonzeles, 2004), knowledge becomes only as important as knowing where to find it. As George Siemens (2004) suggests, ‘know-what and know-how is now being supplemented by the know-where'. Successful learning becomes the ability of how to source and connect the information sources.
George Siemens' theory has taken relevant properties from previous learning theories and paired with learning trends, digitalism and the use of technologies to suggest a new way of learning in today’s world. (Siemens, 2004).
With technology, learners are able to access networks and information at a faster speed enabling a greater volume of knowledge to be consumed. The issue that arises is ensuring that learners are accessing the correct networks but also establishing the difference between important and unimportant information.
Globally, students and organisations are tapping into Connectivism as a learning approach. By guiding people to suitable networks, the efforts of an individual learner can have major benefits to the overall network.
connectivism in action
Constructivist learning theory assumes learners are not passive but rather actively construct knowledge based on past experience, knowledge and culture. The teacher’s role becomes that of a guide rather than a transmitter of information. (Unescoorg, c 2015).
Social Constructivist theory builds upon Constructivism but asserts that learning cannot occur separate to the social context (UCD Teaching and Learning, n.d.). Lev Vygostky, the founder of Social Constructivism, argued that learning is collaborative in nature and originates with social experience. Vygotsky believed the social nature of language and culture to be the resounding factor in learning. (Berkeley Graduate Division, 2015).
Assuming that the learner is an active participant with current knowledge allows for a more in depth learning experience, confidence and innovation. (swineduau, 2015).
Social Constructivism asserts the ability to build upon one's own knowledge but also to brainstorm, share, problem-solve, negotiate and blend ideas. (swineduau, 2015).
Constructivism & Social Constructivism in Action
These two learning theories are the most relevant to online learning. (swineduau, 2015).
Cognitive learning involves the way we perceive, process and retrieve information. According to cognitive psychology, humans create meaning by categorising new information according to a previously formed personalised memory bank which is then transformed or modified. The mind works to analyse the world by processing input into various ‘programs’ and then produces either an output, a behaviour or a decision. The cognitive process is constantly evolving and transforming within each individual according to their personal experiences and responses to different stimuli. (Burton, Westen and Kowalski, 2014).
Jean Piaget, a developmental Psychologist, (1896 -1980) believed that there are four stages to a person’s cognitive development;
Concrete Operational Stage
Formal Operational Stage
Piaget believed one moves from exploring the world through the sensors, to developing a sense of the self and the other and finally, to be able to analyse and construct information and ideas based on logic and abstraction. (PB works 2011).
When applying the cognitive approach to learning, all stages of development must be nurtured and encouraged according to the needs of each individual. It has been suggested that a rise in technology in education may pose a threat to cognitive development. Computer based learning means less face to face engagement. (PB works, 2011).
This image consists of a series of rough abstract marks on a page, however many would look at this image and see a person dancing. This is an example of how the mind cognitively collects and sorts information. Using our knowledge of what anatomic form a person takes and what people look like when they dance we can give this abstract meaning.
cognitivism in action
Huitt, W (2013) suggests that learning is defined as "a relatively permanent change in behaviour or behaviour potential brought about as a result of experience" and development is defined as "as a relatively permanent change in behaviour or behaviour potential brought about as a result of maturation or biological function". There are many different approaches to learning, however the three basic types of learning theories are: behaviourist, cognitive, constructivist and social constructivist (UC regents, 2015). The way in which a person receives and absorbs information is unique to each individual. As environments, society and cultures change, as well as the continuous change and the increase use of the Internet, learning theories are adapting to suit.
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Ivan Pavlov 1849-1936 (History of Science 101, 2013)
How to Get From Here to There: Part I, Entrepreneurship and Maslow's Hierarchy (Marriotti. S, 2015)
Humanistic Theory Quotes (Buzzquotes, 2015)
10 Minute Lecture – George Siemens – Curatorial Teaching (Learn Online, 2007)
Jean Piaget (NNDB 2014)
Lev Vygotsky (totalhistory.com 2012)
What do Curators, e-Educators and Constructivists all have in common? (Online Learning Insights 2012)
Jean Piaget (NNDB 2014)
Arabesque Bright (Radley, A. 2010)
Cognition, Metaphisics and Teleology
Genealogy of Religion 2013)