Teaching and Learning Theories Research Proposal

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Learning Theories

The educational field provides access to a variety of learning theories, many of them offshoots or modifications of previously popular stratagems of learning styles. Numerous studies have been conducted to verify, justify or analyze these theories and their potential usage in the U.S. educational system. Many of these studies have provided educators with more than a little knowledge on how to approach their own particular style of pedagogy, instructing and teaching.

Espin, C.A.

One such study was conducted by Espin, Cevasco, van den Broek, Baker and Gersten to determine the quality and nature of a group of student's comprehension of history. Their abstract states; "we explore whether cognitive-psychological theories developed to capture the comprehension of narrative text can be used to capture the comprehension of history" (Espin, Cevasco, van den Broek, Baker, Gersten, 2007, pg. 175). Throughout this course cognitive theories have been discussed in abundance, and interesting facts have arisen during the discussions. Some cognitive theorists believe that the mind is an open box ready and willing to receive information and data. The student's mind can be seen as similar to a computer or information processor. In other words, garbage in and garbage out and vice versa is true. This can be especially true concerning the learning disabled or slow learners.

This particular study wished to determine if the quality of understanding for those with disabilities is any different when switching the subject in which they are being tested.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Research Proposal on Teaching and Learning Theories Assignment

The study compared previously determined characterizations of learning in regards to comprehension of narratives by learning disabled students to the results obtained concerning whether such methods can be used to teach other subjects, specifically history. According to the researchers, the study hoped to show understanding in "the nature and quality of student's learning of history, and for potentially identifying sources of failure in learning" (Espin, et al., pg. 175). If the researchers could accomplish this objective, they would then show the viability of using the cognitive-psychology theory in at least two instances, as well as defining particular reasons why there were failures to learn in certain students.

This is an exciting study in that it seeks to further the research available in learning processes. The study seems to say that 'if there is a way to determine why certain students are failing to learn, perhaps it can be addressed in an effective manner'.

If the study can accomplish that agenda then it is likely that a more effective method of teaching learning disabled students might be implemented. The study's results provide support for the "idea that the comprehension of history can be viewed within a narrative text framework" (Espin, et al., pg. 180) and that the "pattern of recall by students with LD found in the present study replicates that seen in studies of the comprehension of narrative text" (Espin, et al., pg. 180).

These results are exciting in that they provide data that might also apply to a wide variety of other subjects.

If they do prove to have additional applications, then a greater understanding of more subjects by the learning disabled could become a reality by implementing cognitive style instruction.

Becker, K.

Another study that was recently published concerned teaching teachers to use technology in a way that would enhance student's learning. Specifically, Katrin Becker wished to affirm the consequences and results of teaching teachers how to use video games as a tool in the educational classroom setting. The study described how a growing number of teachers are anxious and willing to use video game playing as a way to assist their students in learning, particularly addressing not only the consequences of doing so, but the difficulties in obtaining the correct technology and implementing that data into an effective teaching tool. The study found that "there are few places to turn to find out about which existing games can be used effectively, even fewer resources for finding out how to use these games once they have them, and fewer still if they wish to build their own" (Becker, 2007, pg. 479).

The study seemed to confirm the effectiveness of using technology as a learning tool in the classroom, while at the same time describing the pitfalls of doing so. Having learned in the course that one way to teach, or to learn, is by actually trying activities that rely on the skills and critical thinking abilities of the students, some students are able to grasp concepts that they might otherwise not be able to.

By providing students the opportunity to experience "hands on" activities, the teachers are following a number of Gagne's steps in the learning process. Gagne wrote that the learning process takes place when the instructor gains the attention of the student(s) through sound effects, animation, music or other means that startles the auditory or visual sense. He also wrote that providing the students with the opportunity to practice new skills or behaviors 'confirms the student's understanding'. Gagne's nine learning steps provided means for the instructor to enhance long-term memory retention by providing specific feedback to the students and assessing the student's performance to determine whether they have achieved mastery of the particular skill or subject.

Becker's study was a prime example of allowing students to play games that were meant to introduce new skills or knowledge, allow the students the opportunity to learn that knowledge through playing the game while at the same time providing the instructor with a method of determining mastery. It seems like a perfect way to teach a limited set of skills, while disguising the fact that the students are actually learning while enjoying video games.

One fact that the study seemed to confirm was that "teachers need resources that are readily available" (Becker, pg. 480). The study reiterated the fact that if games were going to be used in the classroom as part of the technology usage then it was imperative that the teacher(s) know how to implement the technology and they must have the technology easily accessible to them.

Wiebe Berry, R.A.

2006 study was instrumental in defining the differences between teachers in presenting similar material to students. The study took place in two primary inclusion elementary classrooms and the participants in the study included 5 teachers, 44 general education students and 23 special education students. What the study was attempting to discern was whether sociocultural perspectives on teaching and learning view knowledge as socially constructed. The question asked by the study was if "teachers align their beliefs with the often implicit epistemological principles underlying the instructional interventions they implement in their classrooms, or is it possible that they alter the interventions to conform to their own underlying beliefs" (Weibe Berry, 2006, pg 12). Secondly, the study sought to ascertain whether the teacher's approach or style of intervention really mattered anyway.

What was interesting about this particular study was that the researchers agreed with a number of other studies that shows that "learning is located not only in the heads of individuals students, but also in the various conversations and activities of which they are part" (Weibe Berry, pg. 12). This statement seems to go hand in hand with some of the course material in regards to approaches teachers might define with different teaching and learning theories and their implementation in the classroom.

The study found that "although the teachers shared similar views on inclusion and were convinced of the uniqueness of their respective instructional approaches, they nuanced their writing instruction to conform to their implicit theories about teaching, learning, and disability" (Weibe Berry, pg. 11).

This is an interesting finding in that it seems to imply that different teaches implementing the same learning or teaching style may do so using a variety of methods or modifications and that it would little if any difference at all to the students in the classroom. This line of thinking could be construed as a comfort to those teachers who might worry about their own particular style and if they are being as effective as possible when teaching in the classroom.

The answer seemed to be that it did not matter what little nuances were introduced into the teaching style, in fact, the study argued that "although these teachers revealed specific orientations to their writing instruction, these orientations also provided evidence of systemic frames of reference that underlay all their teaching" (Weibe Berry, pg. 20) and that as such it had little or no negative effects on the students at all.

The study outcome suggested that "well-defined instructional strategies and models...may be variably interpreted, implemented, and perhaps even impaired by teachers' philosophical predilections" (Weibe Berry, pg. 22) but at the same time the study offered an alternate argument that "teachers' stylistic preferences can be preserved when using recommended and effective instructional strategies" (Weibe Berry, pg. 22-23).

If what the study concludes is true, then it will be of some comfort to those teachers who are wondering if they are approaching learning and teaching in the right manner.

Mathematics Education


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