OVERVIEW OF LEARNING THEORIES
Over the past century, educational psychologists and researchers have posited many theories to explain how individuals acquire, organize and deploy skills and knowledge. To help readers organize and apply this extensive body of literature, various authors have classified these theories in different ways. For this summary, learning theories are grouped into three basic categories:-
• Behaviorist learning theories
• Cognitive-information processing learning theories
• Cognitive-constructivist learning theories
Behaviorist Learning Theories
The origins of behaviorist learning theories may be traced backed to the late 1800's and early 1900's with the formulation of "associationistic" principles of learning. The general goal was to derive elementary laws of learning and behavior that may then be extended to explain more complex situations. Inferences were tied closely to observed behavior in "lower organisms" with the belief that the laws of learning were universal and that work with laboratory animals could be extrapolated to humans. It was believed that a fundamental set of principles derived from the study of learning in a basic or "pure" form could then be applied to the broader context of learning in schools. Three experimental approaches are related to the study of associationistic learning including:
1. The use of nonsense syllables and individual words to study the association of ideas 2. The use of animals to study the association between sensations and impulses 3. The use of animals to study association and reflexology
The Association of Ideas
Following a tradition begun by Ebbinghaus (1885), researchers studied learning in terms of memory for individual items, most commonly nonsense syllables and individual words. It was assumed that understanding simpler forms of learning would lead to understanding of more complex phenomena. During this time, the predominate research methods were those of serial list learning and paired associate learning. These methods allowed researchers to study, predict, calculate and calibrate "associations" or the degree/likelihood that a nonsense syllable or word could elicit a particular response from learners. In short, the basic premise underlying associationistic views of learning was that ideas become connected, or associated, through experience. Furthermore, the more frequently a particular association is encountered, the stronger the associative bond is assumed to be. For example, the stimulus "bread" is likely to elicit the response"butter" more often and more rapidly than the response "milk," because the association between bread and butter has been frequently experienced and thus has become well learned.
The Association between Sensations and Impulses
Like Ebbinghaus, Thorndike was also interested in studying learning in terms of associations, but in terms of actions, rather than ideas. For his research, Thorndike used animals (e.g., cats and chickens) which were placed in "puzzle boxes" and measured learning in terms of the amount of time it took for the animal to operate a latch and escape. The results led Thorndike to believe that animals learned to associate a sensation with an impulse when its action had a satisfying consequence. For instance, an animal may form an association between a sense (the interior of a box) and an impulse (operating a latch) because the action led to a satisfying result--namely, escaping the box. This principle, termed the Law of Effect, helped modify the classical principle of association and later held significant implications for behaviorism. One of the clearest formulation of associationistic learning principles were made by Hull (1934, 1952) and Spence (1936-1956). Like Thorndike, Hull and Spence based their propositions on data from numerous experiments with laboratory animals. However, unlike Thorndike, Hull and Spence derived equations to explain different actions such as habits, drive and...
References: FELDER-SILVERMAN LEARNING AND TEACHING STYLES MODEL
Richard Felder’s prominent work is the Felder-Silverman learning and teaching styles model (1988) and the Solomon-Felder Index of Learning Styles (1991)
Sequential learners (linear, orderly, learn in small incremental steps) or global learners (holistic, systems thinkers, learn in large leaps) (Felder, 1996, p. 19).
The Four Learning Style Dimensions
Felder and Silverman (1988), define four learning style dimensions
Sensing and Intuitive Learners
The following information on sensing and intuitive learners is a summary from Felder and Silverman’s (1988) article Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, p
Visual and Verbal Learners
The following information on visual and verbal learners is a summary from Felder and Silverman’s (1988) article Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, (pp
Visual learners remember best what they see: pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films, demonstrations. They may forget information that is communicated to them verbally (Felder & Silverman, 1988, p. 677).
Active and Reflective Learners
The following information on active and reflective learners is a summary from Felder and Silverman’s (1988) article Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, p
Active Learners do not learn much from lectures because they require them to receive information passively. They work and learn better in situations that allow for group work and hands on experimentation (Felder & Silverman, 1988, p. 678).
Sequential and Global Learners
The following information on sequential and global learners is a summary from Felder and Silverman’s (1988) article Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, p
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