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Learning Theories

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Judy Silkens

on 13 September 2015

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Transcript of Learning Theories

The Present
Learning in a black and white format, knowledge is thought to be simply assimilated with pre existing information to be recalled at will. This method works to some degree, with less complex information. However the assumption students have no prior experience or knowledge and therefore are blank slates to be filled is quite short sighted. Transmissionism is certainly not as relevant as once thought, in fact it is often considered outdated.
Learning Theories
Transmissionism refers to one of the oldest known methodologies of learning. It is a teacher centred process whereby the students mind is presumed to be an empty vessel. The teacher holds responsibility for providing the information to fill that vessel. This was often done using rote fashion learning and was commonly the only methodology used in classrooms and lecture theatres in past centuries.
The past, the present, advantages and disadvantages.
Social Constructivism

The Past
Motivation to learn is driven by primal drivers such as the need to eat, keep warm and survive. (E.L. Thorndike)
E.L. Thorndike was a renowned psychologist who practiced between 1895 and 1945. During his 55 year career he studied animal intelligence and applied this study to the human educational field.

E.L. Thorndikes' '
Law of Effect
' is said to be an early model for Behaviourist theory. Thorndike theorised that satisfaction received in response to an action gives encouragement to repeat the action. If a bad response is received tothe action then this would be a deterrent to repeating the action. The response becomes learned when a stimulus/response is repeated. (Plucker, 2013)

Plucker, J. (2013).
Human Intelligence: Edward L. Thorndike,
Intelltheory. Retrieved from
Character images downloaded from www.presentermedia.com
Authorised for use by subscription.

Social Constuctivism
Babies are engaged in socialization before they develop cognition or consciousness. Vygotsky's Theory of Social Development purports that learning occurs on two levels, firstly on the social level - for example copying mothers smile, secondly on the individual level - consciously smiling when mother is present. (Vygosky)
Lev Vygotsky - (1896-1934)- Psychologist.
Vygotsky introduced the 'Social Development Theory' which amongst similar theories put forward by other psychologists of the age highlights the basis of social constructivism.
Cullatta, R. (2015). Social Development Theory(Lev Vygotsky).
Instructional Design. Retrieved from
Social Constructivism
Swinburne Learning Group 66
Group 3. (2015)
J. Beddows
C. Biddle
J. Silkens
T. Underwood

Social Constructivism
Transmissionist & Behaviourist
Not so different?
Constructivism &
Social Constructivism
A new approach?
Learning in the
digital age
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) - Biologist.
Piaget studied the cognitive development of children, particularly in relation to the fundamental concepts of number, time, quantity, causality and justice and how these concepts were acquired. (McLeod 2009) He recognised the different cognitive abilities of children and adults and theorised that learning was a staged process (Atherton, 2013).
McLeod, S.
(Updated 2015).
Jean Piaget,
Simply Psychology
Retrieved from
http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html (2015)
Atherton, J.S. (2013).
Learning and Teaching; Piaget's developmental theory.
Retreived from
Learning theories such as constructivism, social constructivism and behaviourism had their roots in the work of eminent biologists and psychologists studying animal and child behavior in the late 1800's and throughout the 1900's.
The behaviorist approach recognizing learner behavior as unchanging holds the obvious presumption that behavior is predictable and apparently fixed according to the environmental influence.

Change the influence, change the outcome. (Skinner, 1974)

Transmissionist learning demands formality and similar presumptions to behaviorist thought, all learners thus being an empty vessel to receive knowledge.

Disadvantage: Behaviorist and or Transmissionist views have little emphasis on prior learner experience. It is obvious that many learners have foundational knowledge that could be worthy.

Skinner 1974 Operant conditioning, behaviorism visted 1.9.15 http://www.learning-theories.com/operant-conditioning-skinner.html

Constructivist, social constructivist philosophy promotes the learners individual understanding of the world by levering off of their present experience to develop meaningful understanding of new concepts. (Rummel, 2008)

The potential disadvantage is the exact opposite to the above stated as the theoretical scope is almost polar opposite.

It would seem that although prior experience is important, some concepts simply require behaviourist, transmissionist application such as mathematical formulas. This is due to the black and white nature of the subject and the various rules.

Rummel 2008 A Comparison of Two Theories of Learning -- Behaviorism and Constructivism as applied to Face-to-Face and Online Learning visited 1.9.15 http://www.g-casa.com/conferences/manila/papers/Weegar.pdf
Connectivism, learning in the digital age.

The apparent disadvantage is related to the new methods of learning as they arise in the digital age. The disorganized overload of conflicting information to be academically discerned by the student while using the internet is but one difficulty.
Perhaps it is also easy to say that the constant distractions apparent within the online learning modality make it near impossible for the student to remain task orienated


Newbury, P (2012) Slide Share. [Cartoon]. number 4 of 36. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/peternewbury/how-peoplelearn-ctdweeklyworkshop

Developed in the 1900's taking dominance in the 20th century, consisting of behavioral changes brought on by environmental and observational responses in an individual due to reinforcement from external stimuli. Learned behaviour is therefore relative to the surroundings, both positive and negative, certainly still a manner in which many of us learn today, particularly those at a crucial developmental stage in life such as children.
In the present day, behaviour once thought as gender appropriate has now taken on a new definition, laying foundations for gender equality and changing of habits.
Snyder, J. (2014). [photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.thestartupclassroom.org/blog/2014/10/20/snyderpln

George Siemens(2013) describes this as ‘‘a model of learning that acknowledges tectonic shifts in society, learning is no longer an internal individualistic activity.'' (p7)
The biggest disadvantage lies within the learner and network itself, hence the age old phrase 'a chain is as strong as its weakest link'.
This describes a network from where a learner may gain information resources as an entity with potential to be boundless and innumerable, simultaneously possibly inaccurate and duplicitous.

If the learner does not possess the skills to discern the value of information in front of them, or lacks the capacity to search in the most useful areas, they are already limited in the manner in which they may gain further useful knowledge.
Connectivism is one of the most common forms of learning encountered by people at present, predominantly due to the vast accessibility of resource material, capacity to reach a large audience and integration with constantly evolving technology, unlike other learning theories; that essentially become an integral part of connectivism as a whole, lack the speedy evolution to stay up to date. Information now has a half-life, and has the capacity to become outdated in months or years rather than decades.
An endless compilation of knowledge ensues, as the learner ages the wisdom gained is brought forward and put to use, presently skills learned are no longer limited to one career or specialized area. Past experiences and knowledge are now viewed for their potential benefit to not only the individual, but the environment they will become a part of.
The theory or concept a learner is not a passive empty vessel to be filled with information at will, but someone whom actively builds upon their own knowledge from experiences gained and environmental exposure creating reorganization of mental structures, therefore creating new learning and understanding.
Developed by Albert Bandura, similar to constructivist learning yet within a social construct. Information is passed on to the individual via observation and imitation. Ideas are shared and discussed in a group format, collaboration occurs.
Original ideas first conceived by an individual may now be further developed, and shared, techniques passed on, skills handed down. This style of learning also creates positive role models where previously none existed, also becoming a precursor to collaborative learning via correspondence.
Gratton, R. (2015) Collaborative Group Learning [cartoon] Retrieved from http://collaborativegrouplearning.com/2015/06/04/159
UNESCO. (2015).
Most influential theories of learning
. UNESCO. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening-education-systems/quality-framework/technical-notes/influential-theories-of-learning/ Source: The Office of Learning and Teaching, 2004. Melbourne: Department of Education and Training; OECD, 2010. Nature of Learning, Paris: Author; http://www.p21.org/

This is known as operant conditioning, developed by B.F.Skinner. Now considered an incomplete explanation of how we learn as it fails to take into account the role of inherited and cognitive factors in learning. Saul McLeod (2015)

Siemens, G. (2013).
International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.
Retrieved from

Heffner, Dr C. L. (2015) Chapter 4: Section 1: I
ntroduction to Learning Theory and Behavioural Psychology
. All psych. Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/psychology101/learning/#.Ver3B_T502Z

McLeod, S (2015)
Skinner-Operant Conditioning
. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
McLeod, S. (2011).
Bandura - Social Learning Theory.
Simply psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
Constructivism learning is a very active way to learn as existing knowledge is an important base for new learning. Students are encouraged to share prior learning experiences which can improve deeper learning, an increase in critical thinking and an increase in confidence. (Swinburne Online 2015,)
Social constructivism suggests that learning does not occur in isolation, and that we learn best when we interact socially with other people. When working in a group you can share knowledge, create meaning, solve problems, test and discuss ideas with others and to also build a better understanding of what we are learning.
(Swinburne Online, 2015)
The Transmissionism model can be helpful if students are learning material that is black and white and includes clear answers. It also works well when we need to simply add new information into our existing knowledge, by just fitting it in our minds with all the information we already have there. (Swinburne Online 2015,).
Connectivism is a learning theory that explains how internet technologies have created new oppertunities for people to learn and share information on the internet. Students are encouraged to seek out information by themselves online and show their findings. A connected community around this shared information often results.
Behaviorism can clearly define behavior and also measures changes in behaviour. Behaviorism looks for simple explanations of human behavior from a scientific standpoint. Behaviorism has made significant contributions, these include insights into learning and language development. (McLeod,2009)
McLeod,Saul (2013) Behaviorist Approach retreived from http://www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html
'Week 2:
How we learn - we're all in this togethe
r', COM10003 Learning and Communicating Online, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, June 2015, retreived 7 September 2015.
'Week 2:
How we learn - we're all in this together',
COM10003 Learning and Communicating Online, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, June 2015, retreived 7 September 2015.
'Week 2:
How we learn - we're all in this together',
COM10003 Learning and Communicating Online, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, June 2015, retreived 7 September 2015.

Siemens,George ,Downes,Stephen (2015) Connectivism (Siemens, Downes) Retreived from

With the arrival and expansion of global connectivity and the resulting networking opportunities facilitated by the technological age, has come the opportunity for wider access to information. Connectivism as a learning theory is a direct result of this. No longer are we expected to memorise and recall information personally - rather the expectation is that we will be able to locate the required information, ensure its currency and validity and be able to continually do so. (Siemens, 2005)
Siemens, G. (2005).
Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digtal Age.
International Journal of Technology and Distance Learning.
Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm.

Swinburne Online. (2015).
Unit Learning Materials,
Swinburne University of Technology.

Retrieved from https://ilearn.swin.edu.au/bbcswebdav/courses/2015-SO2-COM10003-208766/UnitLearningMaterials/week-02.html

© Copyright 2015 NAPCAN
Swinburne online (2015) Retrieved from https://ilearn.swin.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-5052360-dt-content-rid-25966661_2/courses/2015-SO2-COM10003-208766/UnitLearningMaterials/week-02.html
McLeod, S. (2011). Bandura - Social Learning Theory. Simply psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
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