A Brief History Of Learning Theory

Topics: Educational psychology, Constructivism, Psychology Pages: 23 (732 words) Published: March 8, 2015
Based on: Laliberte (2005)

A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY
OF LEARNING THEORY

Learning as a Black Box

So what’s happening inside the box?

A Superficial Review
 Behaviourism
 Cognitivism
 Social Learning Theory
 Social Constructivism
 Multiple Intelligences
 Brain-Based Learning

Behaviourism
 Learning is defined by the outward

expression of new behaviors

 Focuses solely on observable behaviors
 A biological basis for learning
 Learning is context-independent
 Classical & Operant Conditioning
 Reflexes (Pavlov’s Dogs)
 Feedback/Reinforcement (Skinner’s Pigeon Box)

Behaviourism in the Classroom
 Rewards and

punishments
 Responsibility for

student learning
rests squarely
with the teacher
 Lecture-based,

highly structured

Critiques of Behaviourism
 Does not account for processes taking place

in the mind that cannot be observed
 Advocates passive student learning in a

teacher-centric environment
 One size fits all
 Knowledge itself is given and absolute
 Programmed instruction & ‘teacher-proofing’

Cognitivism
 Grew in response to Behaviourism
 Knowledge is stored cognitively as symbols
 Learning is the process of connecting

symbols in a meaningful & memorable way
 Studies focused on the mental processes

that facilitate symbol connection

Cognitivism (cont)
 Jean Piaget
 Genetic Epistemology
 Assimilation and Accommodation

 Jerome Bruner
 Discovery Learning
 Learner as independent problem-solver

Cognitivism in the Classroom
 Inquiry-oriented

projects
 Opportunities for the

testing of
hypotheses
 Curiosity

encouraged
 Staged scaffolding

Critiques of Cognitivism
 Like Behaviorism, knowledge itself is

given and absolute ( a ‘realist’
perspective)
 Input – Process – Output model is

mechanistic and deterministic
 Does not account enough for individuality
 Little emphasis on affective

characteristics (that is, the emotions)

Social Learning Theory (SLT) – Carolw illcover
this
 Grew out of Cognitivism
 A. Bandura (1973)
 Learning takes place through

observation and sensorial experiences

 Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
 SLT is the basis of the movement against

violence in media & video games
 Bobo Doll Experiment

SLT in the Classroom
 Collaborative

learning and group
work
 Modelling

responses and
expectations
 Opportunities to

observe experts in
action

Critiques of Social Learning Theory
 Does not take into account

individuality, context, and
experience as mediating factors
 Suggests students learn best as

passive receivers of sensory stimuli,
as opposed to being active learners
 Emotions and motivation not

considered important or connected
to learning

Social Constructivism
 Grew out of and in response to Cognitivism, framed

around metacognition

 Knowledge is actively constructed
 Learning is…






A search for meaning by the learner
Contextualized
An inherently social activity
Dialogic and recursive
The responsibility of the learner

 Lev Vygotsky

 Social Learning

 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Social Constructivism in the Classroom
 Journalling
 Experiential

activities
 Personal focus
 Collaborative &

cooperative
learning

Critiques of Social Constructivism
 Suggests that knowledge is neither

given nor absolute (in its radical
form, at any rate)
 Often seen as less rigorous than

traditional approaches to instruction
 Does not fit well with traditional age

grouping and rigid terms/semesters

Multiple Intelligences (MI)
 Grew out of Constructivism, framed around

metacognition
 Howard Gardner (publications: 1983 to present)
 All people are born with eight intelligences:
1. Verbal-Linguistic

5. Musical

2. Visual-Spatial

6. Naturalist

3. Logical-Mathematical

7. Interpersonal

4. Kinesthetic...
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