In psychology and education, learning is commonly defined as a process that brings together cognitive, behaviour and Humanists elements. This assignment shows the concept of the relevant theories and principles of learning and communication; select and critically analysed of how I plan to deliver these strategies in my own teaching; and reflect on the impact that these insights have had on my own practice and professional development. What is the definition of theory?
To me theory is something which is explained to you, a system of ideas intended to explain something, one based on general overview. A definition of principles, to me is to be opinionated on how I feel towards chosen topic. Geoff Petty (2009) states that, `every teacher and every learner has a theory about learning. ’ To able to conclude my own theories and principles on planning and enabling learning I need to learn what is accepted to others. Research I understand there are many different theories relating to teaching and learning.
Those that I have looked at are Behaviourist, Cognitive and Humanists elements. These are not new concepts. Although that some of these theorists are descended their work is still use into practices. Behaviourism is primarily associated with Pavlov (classical conditioning) in Russia; and with Thorndike, Watson and particularly Skinner in the United States (operant conditioning). In educational surroundings, behaviourism implies the dominance of the teacher, as in behaviour modification programmes. It can, however, be applied to an understanding of unintended learning.
Classical conditioning in its simplest form is a type of conditioning associates by an external stimulus; in Pavlov original experiment this was a bell, with the arrival of a second stimulus which was the food, this resulted in a response to the bell which would have been achieved previously by the food. Frederic Skinner’s work was influenced by Pavlov’s experiment and the ideas of John Watson, father of behaviourism. His interest in stimulus-response of how humans reacted to various situations became fascinating. Skinner developed teaching machines, so students could learn, uncovering answers for an immediate “reward”.
Humanistic, humanism and humanist are terms in psychology relating to an approach which studies the whole person and the uniqueness of each individual by emphasizing the study of the person overall. This behaviour clarifies the ability of learners to respond to the lesson. John Holt, How Children Fail (1964) states that “the school system could destroy the minds and emotions of young children. His blistering attack accused schools of inducing fear in pupils, and humiliating, ridiculing and devaluing them” This is a very generalised point of view due, to the fact that Holt is tarnishing all schools with the same reputation.
However, it is important not to completely dismiss his views, as the point he makes about fear of failure is something we must be aware of in our teaching. In another humanistic approach which also fits within the humanistic spectrum is that proposed by Malcolm Knowles (1913-1977) his studies focus on adult education which was formed in 1946. Formal programs were for those sponsored by educational institutions, such as universities, high and trade schools in America. He implemented that adult education was pointed to the friendly and informal surroundings.
This enhanced adult learners to take more responsibility for their destiny as they mature through the learning process. Cognitive learning theory is about how to learn rather than what to learn i. e. how to write a report, how to recall specific facts, how to use learning to solve problems or be creative. Cognitivism is “the psychology of learning which emphasizes on how we think and gain knowledge. Theorists are intrigued and want to understand how problem solving changes throughout childhood, how cultural differences affect the way we view our own achievements, language development.
Theories such as Jerome Bruner (1915) and Lev Vygostsky (1896) expressed the view that `expository teaching’ deprived learners of the chance to think for them, however Vygostsky approach `Zone of proximal development’ focused on the concept that what a learner could do today with they could do alone tomorrow. The behaviourist approach can encourage me to understand what motivates my learners and to challenge them on what goals they wish to achieve through their learning.
These techniques can influence and can allow me to shape and enhance my learners into behaving in an acceptable way through Skinner’s theory of `Positive or Negative Reinforcement’. As a research a bi product of this will develop my learner way of analysing. This encourages a comfortable learning environment for all learners. Negative reinforces are ones that increase the chance that a behaviour will occur when it is removed. Punishments are events that decrease the frequency of behaviour that it follows (Skinner, 2003) Take the learner in the classroom that ontinually talk s to his neighbour; it reinforces his behaviour to continue, but if the teacher punishes him by having him stand up in front of the whole class and apologies, he will be more likely to refrain on talking again. Skinner believes that behaviour could be altered by using positive and negative types of reinforcement. Remember negative reinforcement is not punishment. If I have not covered everything on the original lesson plan, learning can however be measured making assessment and planning for next session easier.
By constantly revisiting certain topics and using Question and Answers learners have an understanding on what they are learning and why. This would not be the case for all, based on behaviour modification there are also disadvantages to this approach. Repetitive learning may encourage some learners to remember information but it doesn’t necessary mean they have understood the concept. Some learners will not be confident to admit this and just produced the required answers without knowing how they got to the answers. How do we include rewards and why the reason for them?
As a teacher I tried to implement these when suitable for all learners. If this is not done then the whole process will become confusing and motivation will be lost. This theory can tend to lead myself towards the `pedagogical approach to learning’. As covering that the Humanistic approach is relied for individuals to explore their own interest and curiosities this will assure them to grow into fully functioning, self-trusting, and independent people. All individuals are unique and have an inborn drive to achieve their maximum potential.
This I can relate too with the learners that I teach, once they have discovered their own personality this will generally relate to their chosen career options this will give learners to have free will in the learning experience and can effect on the change of their knowledge. I use the Humanistic approach to learning within my classroom as practical is a massive contribute to my teaching. Carl Rogers, in freedom to learn (1969) states that self-directed learning delivers the considerable educational advantages of independent learning.
Advantages which I find to this are that by meeting learners needs, each learner will feel valued and respected. This will help build up a level of trust between the learner and teacher resulting to excellent communication. When planning and delivering lessons, I include various activities to allow this to happen. At the end of each lesson I find that group discussions give the learners freedom to induce new ideas and to listen to their peers opinions. This gives them the tools to feel empowered and have control over how they learn.
This sounds like a perfect andragogical approach but could have some disadvantages. We know that Bruner’s cognitivists approach to learning is basis on emphasizing active restructuring of knowledge through own experience of life. With this theory the learner draws on his/her own past experience and acknowledges new facts, relationships and truths. Students interact with the world by exploring; asking questions and interpretation what is relevant to the subject. I. e. when tackling new ideas the learner relies on the teacher to give them the correct answer, assuming the teacher is in their comfort zone.
To allow learners to achieve this transformation is by working in groups which encourages them to socially interact with one another which will then lead to process of learning, As a result this method students may be more likely to remember the concept and knowledge discovered on their own. Another strategy often used in my classroom involves embedding questions, which allows the learners to find out the answers to the problem before setting their task. This may again relate to their personal experience. Often organising school trips (exhibition, real life theatre) can allow the learners to interact with real life situations.
I allow for discussion/debates around specific questions relating to that topic that I have structured to initiate points that are relevant to their learning. These theories have made me think differently to my own practise in the way I plan my lessons, which methods of delivery I use as well as how I assess what types of learning has taken place. I teach in a secondary school environment, where the learners go thought a transition from KS3, KS4 & KS5. The course is practical, but there are some elements of theoretical methods which gives learners the chance to demonstrate skills in a performance environment.
I agree that planning for lesson is a strong area for me and my learners. As a result, I will always construct the delivery of my own teaching including the three learning domains. I found that the Bruner strategy had the most impact on my teaching from both a practical and professional point of view. This has enabled me to encourage my learner’s involvement by utilising these methods. It has now become a natural part of my lessons, which involves incorporating Q&A as well as discussions to assess that learning has taken place in the Affective domain.
My confidence has developed as a result, as well as my learner’s needs and communication is now at an all time high in the classroom. These areas are now a massive part as to how I deliver a lesson, as well as ensuring that communication flows both ways. After conducting research into the theories of learning, I have realised there are some improvements that need be made. One of these involves giving my learners more freedom and responsibility with the answers, rather than prompting them. I believe this simple change can breed confidence and progress for both me and the learners.
Bibliography Skinner, B. F (Reprint 2003). The Technology of Teaching. Cambridge, MA: B. F. Skinner Foundation Petty, G (Reprint 2009). A Practice Guide Teaching Today. N. Thornes Forth Edition Holt, J C 1923- 1985 (revised edition) Classics in child development Knowles, M. and Swanson R. A, The Adult Learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resources Harkin, J. , Turner, G. and Dawn, T. (2001). Teaching Young Adults. London, Routledge. Rogers. C and J. H Freiberg (Third Edition) Freedom to learn