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Transcript of Learning Theories
Social Interactionist theory supports the importance of the interaction between the learner and the social and physical environment. One of the main theorists Lev Vygotsky, believed that learning was done through observing, interpreting and participating in social practices. Vygotsky’s theory incorporated the zone of proximal development, which states there are critical times in children's learning.
The Behaviourist theory acknowledges that behaviours, which are reinforced, are generally repeated and behaviours, which are not reinforced, tend to be weakened. Skinner was of the belief that we do have such a thing as a mind, but “that it is simply more productive to study observable behaviour rather than internal mental events" (McLeod, 2015).
B.F. Skinner was one of the most influential behavioural scientists in America. He studied a variety of actions to determine their regularity (B.F. Skinner Foundation, 2014) and developed a theory based around Operant conditioning. Skinner was a great supporter of changes in behaviour by the use of reinforcement or punishment, given after a desired response (McLeod, 2015).
Burrhus Fredric Skinner (1904-1990)
Based on the Behaviourist approach, an educator would need to incorporate conditioning by determining positive or negative reinforcement or punishment, which would be applied to target wanted or unwanted behaviour for each student (Teachnology, n.d.).
Applying Behaviourist Theory in a Classroom
Behaviour can easily be measured (Cherry, K n.d)
Behaviour is shaped quickly, due to the reinforcement or punishment being administered at any given time
If reinforcement or punishment is not applied to a behaviour, there is a chance it could be overlooked therefore the behaviour will not be learned by the child
Cognitive and emotional traits are ignored (Cherry, K n.d)
Benefits of Behaviourism
Weaknesses of Behaviourism
Vygotsky was a Russian theorist, educated as a lawyer and Philologist, then became a teacher, finally a psychologist
Vygotsky stated “much important learning by the child occurs through social interaction with a skilful tutor" (McLeod, 2014).
Teachers guide the learning process with verbal prompts, demonstrations and explanations. An environment that is rich in language and literacy, including child directed speech, would engage the students and build their knowledge of language while also growing their interest in the literacy world (Berk, 2013).
Introduction to Learning theories
Behaviourism, Social Interactionist and Constructivism theories each have both strengths and weaknesses thus they may not work for every student, teacher or curriculum. Behaviourism may be simplistic as is based on external, observable behaviour as opposed to complex, internal, memory and language learning as outlined in Social Interactionist and Constructivist theory. A combination of each theory may be a better approach, as one alone cannot be fully utilized in the classroom due to inherent flaws. Some students prefer Behaviourism based rote learning,
whilst others prefer a singular Constructivist style
and some prefer to work in a Social Constructivist, collaborative team (McLeod, G. 2003).
Throughout history many theorists have developed perspectives on how the individual acquires knowledge. Three main theories and theorists are the center of this study. Behaviorism, with the main theorist being B.F Skinner, Social Interactionist theory focusing on Lev Vygotsky and Constructivism developed by Jerome Bruner. Learning theories underpin the school curriculum. For a teacher who is trying to maximize the learning potential of their students, this study will provide analysis of each theory into how they relate to the classroom, their strengths and weaknesses. As we move into a rapidly shifting, technological landscape, educators and education systems need to constantly reassess approaches to teaching (ABC News, 2014).
Social interaction and working collaboratively amongst students in a classroom can provide valuable and distinctive opportunities for learning and conceptual development (Howe and Mercer, 2007)
Education tailored to suit the individual child
Collaborations can sometimes lead to conflict and miscommunication
Some social relationships can result in negative behaviour and emotions (Eldridge & Queen, 2012)
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Learning turning digital
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Who is Skinner?
Retrieved from http://www.bfskinner.org/
Cherry, K. (n.d) About Education.
What is Behaviourism?
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McLeod, S. (2008).
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McLeod, S. (2015).
Skinner – Operant Conditioning.
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ow to use Operant conditioning in your classroom.
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Vygotsky, Lev, S. (1978).
The Language of Children.
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Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
Bruner, best known for his contributions to the American Education system, was interested in memory and cognition. Bruner (1960), disputed predetermined developmental stage theory. Bruner's belief was that a child could learn complex ideas at any stage. Topics would be simplified then revisited each year so the child can expand on previous acquisitions (as cited in
McLeod, S. 2008).
Utilizing the Constructivist theory, the teacher and curriculum should serve as a guide, allowing the child to construct their own reality. Bruner (1961) felt the role of a good teacher is to guide learning to "help a student discover the relationship between bits of information, but without organizing it for them,"
(as cited in McLeod, S. 2008).
The student is fully engaged in the learning process
Learning is not passive as it is in a Behaviourist approach (McLeod, G. 2003)
Discounts the need for some students who like structure in order to thrive
Instruction based on individual needs may be difficult for teachers to plan lessons that are cost effective (McLeod, G. 2003)
Applying Constructivism Theory to a Classroom
Benefits of Constructivism
Weaknesses of Constructivism
Jerome Bruner (1915-)
Constructivism is the theory by which the process of learning begins on the intake of new information: it is then assimilated into our prior knowledge and stored as memory for future use. As children grow they "acquire a way of representing recurrent irregularities in their environment" (Bruner, 1957 as cited in McLeod, S, 2008). Constructivism theorists include Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner.
Proudly produced by
Rebekah Golding, Laura Swift and Angela Janssen
Social Interaction Theory in the Classroom
Benefits of Social Interaction
Weaknesses of Social Interaction
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