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5 Learning Theories

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Brian Schell

on 23 October 2014

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Transcript of 5 Learning Theories


5 Learning Theories
Five Learning Theories seems like a lot. Give me some knowledge.
Behaviorist
Constructivist/Sociocultural
Cognitive
Social Cognitive
Humanist & Motivation
Behaviorist? What's that all about?
Behaviorist Theory is a theory of learning based on behaviors being learned through conditioning.

There is actually two types of conditioning that fall under behaviorism: Classical & Operant.
Wasn't there some debate about this?
Most certainly. At the time, there were three theoretical positions (assumptions) on the topic.
1. Development and learning are independent of one another.
2. Learning and development happen simultaneously.
3. Development is made up of learning combined with maturity.
Notable psychologist Edward Thorndike held the belief that development and learning were not the same and did not necessarily lead to one another. Opposing, another noted psychologist Koffka believed in development being the combination on learning and maturity.

You listed some notables, but I'm assuming there was a main guy?
Yes, for our purposes Lev Vygotsky produced the predominant concepts on sociocultural theory. Vygotsky developed what would come to be known as the zone of proximal development theory.
The zone of what?
The Zone of Proximal Development. According to Vygotsy himself, the the zone of proximal development "is the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers." This is basically what a person can do with aid, but not alone.
Ok, I'm interested, what else you got?
Vygotsky believed that interaction with comparable peers with essential to a student’s development. He was one of the first to suggest pairing higher performing students with those in need of assistance. This would allow the more advanced student to teach the underachieving student needed skills. This is called scaffolding. Scaffolding is simply providing a student assistance to accomplish a task and then overtime removing the assistance to allow the student to perform the task unaided. Think of beginning spelling words where some of the letters are already in place with blanks for the missing letters. Over time the provided letters are less and the blanks more abundant until eventually no assistance is needed.
Excellent, anything else I should know?
Here are just a few concepts that you might see at some point.
Cultural Artifacts
– In relation to the zone theory, this represents any item that reflects status, achievement or recognition within a community. The most common example is a birthday cake, as a cultural artifact it is much more culturally significant than a simple cake.
Cultural Mediation
– This concept ties into cultural artifacts beyond the cake. This concept deals with the social experiences tied to the birthday party. This concept also helps to provide students with social experiences that help increase learning as well as independent learning. Cultural mediation can also be used to help shape or change undesired behaviors.
Cultural Tools
– These are mental tools that help students learn. Eventually they are mastered and near automatically recalled. Examples include speaking, reading, and numbers.





Tell me more about the classical type.
The classical style of behaviorism works like this: a previously neutral stimulus, like a sound, is paired with an unconditioned stimulus, like a smell. Eventually, this sound, will trigger a response to the smell, producing an unconditioned response. Once conditioned, the sound, now known as the conditioned stimulus, will trigger the same response as the smell, producing a conditioned response. For example, if the smell of warm cookies makes you smile, and every time you smell warm cookies you hear a hand clap, eventually the hand clap will have the effect of making you smile.
Who's the main guy in this theory and how did he come up with it?
Ivan Pavlov is the most renowned theorist in this form of behaviorism. He is most well-known for his Pavlov’s dog experiment. In this experiment, Pavlov used a bell and a dish of food to condition his dog. Whenever it was time to eat, Pavlov would ring a bell. The dog would begin to salivate in response to the food. Eventually the dog would begin to salivate each time the bell was rung.
Wait, wait. What do you mean by 'Condition his dog'?
Conditioning is a process that changes the behavior of a person or animal. In Pavlov’s case he used various stimuli to elicit the desired behavior.
Got it. What's this baby Albert experiment I've heard about and how does it relate?
You’re referring to the “Little Albert” experiment performed by John B. Watson. In this experiment, Dr. Watson conditioned a baby dubbed ‘Albert’. Dr. Watson exposed Albert to several animals and objects, most notably a white rat. None of which caused a fear reaction. Later, Dr. Watson again exposed Albert to each item, but this time made a loud noise that startled and upset Albert. After the conditioning, Albert showed a fear response to the items, and also items that appeared similar, even when the loud noise was not present. This result is know as generalization.
OK, well what about the Operant style?
The Operant style of behaviorism is based on rewards and punishments for behavior after the fact. This style helps to strengthen and weaken voluntary behaviors. There are both positive and negative versions of both reinforcement (rewards) and punishment.
• Positive Reinforcement is a standard reward or praise to encourage a behavior. Telling someone ‘good job’ is an example of this style.
• Negative Reinforcement is taking away something you don’t like after displaying a desired behavior. Giving students a weekend without homework would be an example of this style.
• Positive Punishment is giving an unwanted reaction due to a specific behavior. Giving a student extra homework for a negative behavior is a positive punishment.
• Negative Punishment is the removal of a favorable activity or event in reaction to an unwanted behavior. Having recess removed is an example of negative punishment.


Anyone I should know in this area?
Yes, B.F. Skinner is considered the founder of the operant theory. Skinner believed that punishment and rewards were more crucial to behavioral development than pre-conditioning. He is also known for developing the ‘Skinner Box’ which is used to monitor animal’s behavior in a confined space. Animals are given rewards or consequences based on the choices they make using levers within the box.
What do you know about Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory?
Sociocultural theory is a theory that believes society and environment play a large part in individual development. A child is most directly influenced by the people around them, including parents, teachers, and friends. Vygotsky also believed that many signs of child development will manifest socially first, and then be internalized including logic, attention and concepts.
Ok, so what are the major differences between classical and operant?
1. Classical behaviorism is a passive form of conditioning where the subject does not know the conditioning is taking place, whereas Operant is a much more active approach.
2. Similarly, classical behaviorism involves involuntary behavior, while Operant deals completely with voluntary behaviors.
3. Classical behaviorism relies on preconditioning while Operant tends to reward or punish after a behavior is demonstrated.

Humanism? I'm a human, right?
Humanism is a theory focused on each individual. Humanism stresses growth and the realization of potential. Humanism also focuses on how individuals acquire their emotions, attitudes, beliefs, and values.
Humanism started with Carl Rogers and his concept of a fully functioning person. He attributed openness to and ability to interpret experiences, low defensiveness, and willingness to change to a fully functioning person. Maria Montessori was also a pioneer for humanism. Montessori was famous for her ideas on learning with limited limitations. Finally Reggio Emilia focused on students as individuals.


I chose this design because of the circles. To me they represent how things don’t really have a beginning and end. The learning theories all share from and build from each other. I’m sure that statement will offend someone, but it certainly appears to be true. I laid out my Prezi with each theory circling a main point. I did this to show how each of us use various elements of each theory on a daily basis; almost assuredly on an unconscious level. Many of these ideas are intuitive, others are more complex and take time to understand and digest. Like most everything else related to education I think a mix of everything is the only way to go.
I noticed the blurbs, but who's really important?
While all of the listed individuals were significant, we are going to focus on Abraham Maslow. Maslow was known for pursuing the positive side of psychology. Maslow focused on human potential, personal growth, experiences, and improved mental health. Maslow’s work in this area leads to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory.
I know it's coming, so what is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?
Maslow was a big believer in Motivation, right?
Yes, Maslow indicated that each individual needed something to help guide them towards a goal. Maslow believed that motivation can be Intrinsic, a reason from within such as pleasure, or extrinsic, an external source such as praise or reward. All of the previous theories we discussed have a tie to motivation. Behaviorist focus on consequences or rewards while social cognitivist focus on perception.
What some methods to motivate students, and how can that impact a classroom?
There are several ways to use motivation in the classroom. One example is to give the students a stake in what happens in the class, allow them to help set the rules and expectations. Another motivation is to make objectives clear so that students know exactly what their goal is. And finally, if all else fails the offer of reward generally tends to work well.
Motivation in the classroom can help improve student focus, cause them to work harder, set and achieve higher goals, take risk, try new things, have a higher self-efficacy, and better utilize their thoughts and emotions.

I wrote throughout the Prezi about how some theories related to others but wanted to highlight a few of the points. The key point I feel is motivation which I just touched on. Motivation is a key component of each theory. Virtually everyone has a motivation for everything they do. Motivations drive us to get out of bed, go to work, love our children, and everything in-between. Entering Faulkner county from Pulaski I noticed a ‘Keep Alcohol out of Faulkner Co.’ billboard. My wife made a comment about personal freedom; however my first thoughts went to which Maumelle Liquor store paid for that.
Another strong thread throughout the various theories was the concept of self-efficacy. Though not always identified as such, a belief in oneself is paramount to success. To reference my wife once again, she believes she can do anything…she probably shouldn’t, but she does. I know other people that have no faith in their ability to do or learn. I think this is a crucial aspect with helping younger children learn, especially those from non-supportive families. Allowing a child to believe in themselves is one the strongest keys to continued learning.
Schema and scripts are and underpinning of all 5 theories as well. They have set of guidelines that are followed in set order to help achieve the required goals. Culture also plays a role in each theory. Even the theories that are less dependent on environment still acknowledge that a student’s culture can affect how an individual learns or reacts.

Next up is Cognitive theory, hit me with it!
Cognitive theory is one of the more straight forward theories. Cognitive theory deals with how people think and how they learn and interact with society. Cognitive theory is usually constructed using four stages of development for humans.
Before we get to the stages, who's idea was this?
Cognitive theory is primarily credited to Jean Piaget. He developed the four stage system to explain how children think as they move through various stages of life. The core of Piaget’s cognitive theory is that children simply think differently than adults.


The obvious next step is the four stages, so what are you waiting on?
1. The Sensorimotor Stage – During this stage (0-2 yrs.) children acquire knowledge through their senses by seeing, toughing, and hearing.

2. The Preoperational Stage - At this stage (2-7 yrs.), children begin to interact with things and concepts not in their immediate vicinity. Still mostly non-logical thoughts, but imagination is active.

3. The Concrete Operational Stage – In this stage (6-11 yrs.) children begin to understand basic logic. Children also begin to understand others may have differing thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

4. The Formal Operational Stage - The final stage (12-up yrs.) involves more advanced logic and problem solving. This stage also allows for the understanding of abstract concepts.

That all makes sense, what else you got?
How about a few concepts related to cognitive theory.
• Schemas – Schemas include the mental and physical aspects of learning and understanding. The four stages we discussed are all schemas; they deal not only with a skill set, but how the information is obtained. These can also be affected by outside factors such as culture, race, and status.
• Egocentrism – in this context this is simply a limitation of child, such as being about to think logically at a young age.
• Scripts – these are prescribed expectations that usually occur in a predetermined order. The four stages are also an example of a script.
• Misconceptions – these are simple incorrect facts held as true. For students it could be that their father was born with a beard. Younger children will sometimes hang onto ideas even in the face of contradictory evidence.
• Assimilation & Accommodation – assimilation incorporated new ideas or objects into existing schemas. Accommodation is the changing of schema or knowledge to fit the situation, as in showing a child a baby picture of their father with no beard. Children often try to balance these concepts

This all seems straight forward, what's the catch?
The problem with the cognitive theory is obvious; no two people think exactly the same. This makes compiling hard data a challenge. This also leads a very wide field of study with less focus on each area. While the potential for learning is still massive, documenting and providing hard evidence is much tougher.





Social Cognitive? Didn't we just cover this?
No, not exactly. Social cognitive theory places a larger emphasis on environment in development. It was pioneered by Albert Bandura. Social cognitive theory is based on five major assumptions plus the concept of self-efficacy.
1. Learning through Observation
2. Learning is Internal, leading to possible change
3. Triadic Reciprocal Causation
4. Goal Oriented Learning
5. Self-Regulation of Behavior


Huh? I'm gonna need a little more.
Sure, let’s take each assumption one at a time. First is learning through observation. The key point here is to understand the concept of modeling.
Modeling
is simply the act of demonstrating a behavior for someone else. Showing a child how to brush their teeth is an example of modeling. Modeling can be live (in person demonstration) or symbolic (a character in a movie, book, or television).




How can models affect behavior and what makes an effective model?
There are four main ways that models affect behavior.
1. Observational Learning – Acquiring new skills or behaviors from watching others.
2. Response Facilitation – When a child displays a skill or behavior more often after a modeled behavior is reinforced.
3. Response Inhibition – When a child displays a skill or behavior less often after a modeled behavior is reinforced.
4. Response Disinhibition – A child more frequently displays undesired behavior when no adverse reaction occurs.
Likewise there are four main characteristics of effective models.
1. Competence – Children generally model someone with a well-honed skill.
2. Fame or Authority - Students tend to imitate someone of power or authority, like a teacher or parent.
3. Gender Roles – Students generally select models of their own gender. Girls model Women, etc.
4. Relevancy – Students tent to Model behavior and skills relevant to their situations.

Other that Academic and Interpersonal skills, what behaviors are commonly modeled.
Aggression is very much a modeled behavior. Dr. Bandura performed an experiment known simply as the Bobo Doll experiment. The experiment exposed children to an adult showing aggression, both verbally and physically, against a bobo doll. After a short period of time the children were allowed to play in the room containing the bobo doll. The children exposed to the aggression imitated the exact behaviors. Children in the study not exposed to the aggression behaved much less aggressively when allowed to play. Also boys, in general, behaved more aggressively than their female counterparts.
What attributes help students learn from models?
These are the most influential attributes related to learning from models
-Attention – Careful Observation
-Retention – Ability to remember the modeled behavior
-Capability – The ability to learn or replicate the skill
-Motivation – Reason to learn the skill


What do you mean by learning is internal? Are all skills or behaviors immediately replicated?
Not always, learning is internal; learned skills can be demonstrated now, later, or never. An now or immediate skill may be reading a new word: once learned it can be demonstrated right away. A later skill could be shaking hands: though the student knows how, they now need the opportunity to use the skill. Never is a skill that may never be used. If I demonstrate how to skydive, there is a chance that the student will never imitate this skill.



OK, what on Earth is Triadic Reciprocal Causation?
Triadic Reciprocal Causation is when all three variables, Environment, Behavior, and Personal interact to influence learning.
1. Environment – Social & physical – Friends, Classroom, Temperature
2. Behavior – What is being observed and its consequences
3. Personal – Learners thoughts and beliefs along with self-efficacy

Behaviorism sounds like a mixed bag, what should stay and what should go?
You're right, like most theories behavorism has it's pluses and minuses. On the plus side behaviorism is easy to quantify and data is relatively easy to gather. Also behaviorism is still used today to help students and adults make behavioral changes. The downside to behaviorism is it tends to be a bit narrow when considering internal influences, exterior learning, and adaption to new information.
Is Goal Oriented Learning what it sounds like?
Yes, goal oriented learning is simply learning with a goal in mind. It can be to acquire a new skill out of curiosity, athletics, job performance, or just for fun.
Self-Regulation of Behavior for $500, please.

Ok, I’ll see what I can do. Self-Regulation of Behavior is basically each individual’s decision making. It is made up of three parts, self-observation, evaluation, and reactions. Self-observation is simply reviewing one’s actions. Evaluation is reflection to determine the result of that action. Finally reactions are the consequences of that action rather positive as in reinforcement or negative as in punishment. Both reinforcement and punishment can be received individually or vicariously.
1. Reinforcement
a) Self or Incentive – Such as a pat on the back or reward.
b) Vicarious - Seeing positive results for others and inferring those behaviors will result in similar results. Such as a reward from making an A on a test.
2. Punishment
a) Self or Consequence – Behavior that results from a negative action such as being grounded.
b) Vicarious - Seeing negative results for others and inferring those behaviors will result in similar results. Such as running laps for missing practice.


I think we've made it to Self-Efficacy, am I right?
Yes, Self-Efficacy is an individual's belief that they have the skills necessary to achieve a goal. Students with higher self-efficacy generally set high goals, give greater effort, and achieve more. Factors that affect self-efficacy are expected outcomes (that a behavior will result in the desired outcome), perception (confidence in your abilities), and goals set on the belief of what can be accomplished.
The effects can also occur within groups (group self-efficacy) and teachers (teacher self-efficacy). Teacher self-efficacy can result in higher standards, greater efforts, and a willingness to experiment with learning. Group self-efficacy leads to greater common goals, higher perception of the group, and greater expected outcomes.


Maslow was all about 'self'. This image represents Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The 5 steps shown on the pyramid are Physiological needs, Safety, Love & Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization. The image gives examples of each need type. The most basic needs are at the bottom of the pyramid with the more complex needs at the top. As individuals gain security at one level they are able to move to the needs above, eventually leading to self-actualization.
What's the Good and Bad here?
Unfortunately, Vygotsky died relatively young limiting his work on the sociocultural theory. His work on scaffolding is still used in school today. The biggest negative to Vygotsky’s work is many question whether he overvalued the impact environment has on learning and development.
Pros & Cons Please?
The social cognitive theory is widely praised for its inclusion of environment, however at a more reasonable or acceptable level than the socioculturalist models. It also geared more toward social change that problems related toward individuals. The downside to this theory is that it does not take into account individuality and personal barriers. Some students simply are not as well equipped as other students. Also barriers such as socioeconomic standing, health, and low self-efficacy are not accounted for.
Finish up strong, what's the good and bad here?
Humanistic theory suffers from similar issues as the cognitive theory; the data is too hard to quantify. Experiences and feelings are not the same to each individual. What actually qualifies as an authentic experience?
Oppositely, the strength of humanistic theory is its focus on the individual. This allows for change or learning at the individual level. Humanistic behavior also can lead to happiness or fulfillment to individuals creating a tangible result.
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