Major Family of Learning Theory


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MAJOR FAMILY OF LEARNING THEORY Behaviorism Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e.tabula rasa) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. Both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability that the antecedent behavior will happen again. In contrast,punishment (both positive and negative) decreases the likelihood
  MAJOR FAMILY OF LEARNING THEORYBehaviorism Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive,responding to environmental stimuli. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa  ) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.Both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability that theantecedent behavior will happen again. In contrast, punishment  (both positive andnegative) decreases the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will happen again.Positive indicates the application of a stimulus; Negative indicates the withholding of astimulus. Learning is therefore defined as a change in behavior in the learner. Lots of  (early) behaviorist work was done with animals (e.g. Pavlov’s dogs) and generalized to humans. Cognitivism The cognitivist revolution replaced behaviorism in 1960s as the dominantparadigm. Cognitivism focuses on the inner mental activities  – opening t he ―black box‖ of the human mind is valuable and necessary for understanding how people learn.Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving need to beexplored. Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions.Le arning is defined as change in a learner’s schemata.    A response to behaviorism, people are not ―programmed animals‖ that merely respond to environmental stimuli; people are rational beings that require activeparticipation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking.Changes in behavior are observed, but only as an indication of what is occurring in the learner’s head. Cognitivism uses the metaphor of the mind as computer: information comes in, is being processed, and leads to certain outcomes.    Constructivism   A reaction to didactic approaches such as behaviorism and programmedinstruction, constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based onpersonal experiences and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously testthese hypotheses through social negotiation. Each person has a different interpretationand construction of knowledge process. The learner is not a blank slate ( tabula rasa  )but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation. A common misunderstanding regarding constructivism is that instructors shouldnever tell students anything directly but, instead, should always allow them to constructknowledge for themselves. Constructivism assumes that all knowledge is constructed from the learner’s previous knowledge, regardless of how one is taught. Thus, even listening to a lecture involves active attempts to construct new knowledge.Learning theories tend to fall into one of several perspectives or paradigms,including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and others. Humanism  Humanism, a paradigm that emerged in the 1960s, focuses on the humanfreedom, dignity, and potential. A central assumption of humanism, according to Huitt(2001), is that people act with intentionality and values. This is in contrast to thebehaviorist notion of operant conditioning (which argues that all behavior is the result of the application of consequences) and the cognitive psychologist belief that thediscovering knowledge or constructing meaning is central to learning. Humanists alsobelieve that it is necessary to study the person as a whole, especially as an individualgrows and develops over the lifespan. It follows that the study of the self, motivation,and goals are areas of particular interest.  Key proponents of humanism include Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Aprimary purpose of humanism could be described as the development of self-actualized,automomous people. In humanism, learning is student centered and personalized, and the educator’s role is that of a facilitator. Affective and cognit ive needs are key, and thegoal is to develop self-actualized people in a cooperative, supportive environment. Behaviorism      Founders and proponents: John B. Watson in the early 20th century. B.F.Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, and others.    Basic idea: Stimulus-response. All behavior caused by external stimuli (operantconditioning). All behavior can be explained without the need to consider internalmental states or consciousness.    Learner viewed as: Passive, responds to environmental stimuli.    Behavior may result in reinforcement (increased likelihood that behavior will occur in the future); or punishment. Cognitivism        Founders and proponents: Replaced behaviorism in 1960s as dominantparadigm. Noam Chomsky.    Basic idea: Mental function can be understood    Learner viewed as: Information processor     Cognitivism focuses on inner mental activities —   opening the ―black box‖ of the human mind. It is necessary to determine how processes such as thinking,memory, knowing, and problem- solving occur. People are not ―programmedanimals‖ that merely respond to environment al stimuli; people are rational beingswhose action are a consequence of thinking.    Metaphor of mind as computer: information comes in, is being processed, andleads to certain outcomes.  Constructivism      Founders and proponents: John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, LevVygotsky, others.    Basic idea: Learning is an active, constructive process.    Learner viewed as: Information constructor.    People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge, thus mentalrepresentations are subjective. Humanism      Founders and proponents: Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, others.    Basic idea: Learning is a personal act to fulfill one’s potential.      Learner viewed as: One with affective and cognitive needs.    Emphasis on the freedom, dignity, and potential of humans.    Learning is student-centered and personal, facilitated by teachers, with the goalof developing self-actualized people in a cooperative, supportive environment.
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