Taking two examples of learning from your own life experience – one you would call a ‘good’ learning experience, one you would call a ‘bad’ learning experience – describe them and then explain the differences in the experiences with reference to theories about learning. Can you draw any conclusions from your reflection and reading about the nature of effective learning experiences?
Educational psychologist Jean Piaget states that cognitive development and hence an individual’s achievement in terms of learning is down to a combination of maturation and the environment. Learning is the process of psychological alterations in the brain resulting in meaning and is based on the interaction between material and the social environment.1 A range of explanations have been constructed by prominent figures to suggest theories for learning with regards to the importance of a teaching figure and the incorporation of motivation, coding, memory and cognitions. They look into the relationship between of environment and provide an opportunity to enhance ability to use both themselves and environment in effective way.2 Sciences influence has increased over the years leading to a richer understanding of learning theories in the modern day; this has led to strong development in the educational system.3 My essay will be considering these in regards to my personal experiences whilst reflecting on them and discussing the nature of effective learning experiences.
A significant example of a strong learning experience was my trip to the Thackray medical museum. During time at school learning GCSE history – we went on a trip to the medicine museum in Leeds to gain insight and further understanding of medicine through time. This was a strong experience in learning as it meant that the course could come to life and looking at exhibitions such as the backstreet of Leeds meant that the topic transforms in a way that heightens my interest as well as understanding. During the visit we went around in groups and were given a list of questions to answer whilst we observed the exhibitions in the museum. Questions made the experience helpful as it kept us focused on the topic whilst we explored the detail as well as providing a form of scaffolding for learning (Vygotsky, 1934).
Examples such as this are based on the constructivist approach to learning – as the visit meant I could build upon pre-existing as I already had some knowledge of public health and the evolving medicine.4 Psychologists such as Bruner (1961) believe this approach to learning is effective as it means students are involved in own learning and therefore will retain more information, it also ‘bridges the gap between classroom and the real world.’5
Seeing the exhibitions and stimuli such as the back street in the museum are helpful in the development of understanding as this is an efficient style of active learning. During this experience we could step back in time to feel the period of history consequently information I learnt on public health could be transferred to new events specifically my GCSE exam as well as understand areas I need more information for.6 This experience was effective as it helped me to accommodate new knowledge and the extent of this experience being successful is gained by me receiving an A* in my history GCSE examination.
A differing example of an experience I have had when learning was a lesson during my time in history A-Level. This example however is not a strong example and shows weaknesses in terms of styles of learning. The lessons consisted of my teacher talking through our text book then sending us away to do work by ourselves. Teaching in such a style – suggests that individuals can learn and remember information on a certain aspect of history simply by being told information. Though the questions given to do independently can provide us some level of knowledge, educational psychologists suggest that this does not constitute full meaning...
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