Consider some key theories and concepts of learning and assessment
In this assignment I will explore the concept of learning and application of some learning theories within the in the vocational further education sector. I will explore the application of theories to health and social vocational topics and how this assists in developing key attributes for learners on these programmes. I will identify assessment methods and provide a critique of the validity of these in different educational programmes. Definitions of learning vary drastically. This is primarily due to the differing conceptions of what learning actually is. Saljo (1979) identified five categories of learning. It is suggested that the five categories: “…increase in knowledge; memorising information; Acquiring facts, skills, and methods; making sense or abstracting meaning; interpreting and understanding reality in a different way" (Saljo, 1979), conceptualise learning as process. There has been extensive debate regarding the learner’s awareness of events whilst undergoing this process. Rogers (Weilbel, 2011) identified two categories of learning: Acquisition and formalised. Acquisition learning is activity or task based learning linked to a continuous, unconscious learning process that takes place throughout life, in education and personal experiences. As it is thought of as an unconscious process, Rogers approach emphasises the lack of learner awareness during learning. Formalised learning is generally facilitated by an education professional where the learner is actively conscious of learning taking place (Colley et al, 2003). Whilst many professionals agree there are differing types of learning, the more commonly referred to dimensions of learning are often categorised into five dimensions rather than the two categories identified by Rogers. The behaviourist approach argues that behaviour is a result of environmental stimulus and the experience following the behaviour of positive or negative consequence will determine responses to the same environmental stimulus in the future. Reinforcement of positive consequences by positive praise or feedback can accelerate learning by conditioning the learners in the pattern of behaviour response to environmental stimulus (Minton, 2005). Behaviourist view learning as a step by step process and this combined with sequential praise will enable learners to associate a positive experience with learning. These behaviourist concepts have a heavy influence over the whole education system and are embedded into regulatory guidelines however lend themselves well to vocational, competency based qualifications such as the BTEC given the modular nature of the programme. The modular layout enables regular opportunity for the stimuli: behaviour response relationship to be enforced through positive achievement. Although this passive learning approach is utilised within most educational establishments, where learners acquire knowledge, constructivists argue that learners take a more participatory role in their learning and there is scope that each learner will have a differing perception of a learning experience and draw upon their own interpretation of the knowledge presented to them. Unlike the behaviourist approach where the teacher is the knowledge base, the constructivist theory places the learner at the focus of a more meaningful learning experience (Driscoll, 1994).
The constructivist approach lends itself to the teaching methods applied in vocational topics. It links learners’ experience of the wider world including their vocational experience with the topics being taught. It creates opportunity for the application of learner knowledge in real life situations which allows them to build their own constructs (Petty, 2004). This approach links heavily with the humanistic approach to teaching and learning in that experiential or applied knowledge concepts foster a positive learning environment.
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