Theoretical Approaches to Learning Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2498 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Teaching

6. Young adult: 18 to 35

Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation - Love

At this stage, young adults tend to seek deeper relationships and satisfying partnerships and if they have failed relationships or are unable to develop positive social connections, isolation may occur.

7. Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65

Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation - Care

There is a sense of responsibility towards family and the greater society and individuals begin to work productively towards a higher goal of generativity and learn to build better families and social lives. Failing this stagnation and self absorption may occur.

8. Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death

Integrity vs. Despair - Wisdom

Individuals want to reflect on life with a feeling of contentment and want to be happy that they have contributed significantly to society. A sense of integrity and satisfaction for what has been done during the lifetime would lead to wisdom otherwise despair would follow.

Kolb's Experiential Learning

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Kolb presented a four-stage cyclical theory of learning emphasizing on experiential learning theory with a holistic perspective. The most important elements of learning seem to be experience, perception, cognition, and behavior and these elements also form the basis of his learning theory. Kolb stated "learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience" (1984, p. 38). Thus Kolb believed that learning itself is an experience and this he explained with four stages including concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation.

The sequence of these four stages is given as:

concrete experience (or "DO")

reflective observation (or "OBSERVE")

abstract conceptualization (or "THINK")

active experimentation (or "PLAN")

Figure from learning

Term Paper on Theoretical Approaches to Learning and Assignment

The four stage learning cycle shows how concrete experience of a task or situation is translated into observation and reflection of concepts and this in turn leads to active experimentation and formation of new concepts that are tested in new situations. After exposure to the experience as through concrete experience, the learner reflects on the experience and conceptualizes on the model leading to active experimentation of the model or theory (Kolb, 1984).

Kolb identified four learning styles corresponding to these four stages. These are:

assimilators, who depend on concepts or logical theories and arguments convergers, who learn from the practical applications of theories as through testing or experimentation accommodators, who depend on their concrete hands on real life experiences to complete the learning process divergers, who tend to learn through observation and reflection of the situations identified

Piaget's Stage Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget has discussed four distinct stages of cognitive development in children and these are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete, and formal. Cognitive development is the underlying foundation for all learning and Piaget developed the four stage model of cognitive development and opined that all children will go through these general four stages. Piaget's theory of Cognitive development is among the most influential learning theories as it describes in detail how children acquire learning and cognitive skills through different stages of development.

Sensorimotor stage (Birth to 2 years). During the sensorimotor stage infants interact with the environment and learn how to use the senses and hands, movement to interact with objects. They develop a sense of object permanence and learning is by using information and organizing the information into schemas.

Preoperational stage (ages 2 to 4). The child uses physical situations to learn and can differentiate objects and shapes at this stage.

Concrete operations (ages 7 to 11). At this stage the child conceptualizes his or her physical experiences and can think abstractly or beyond what is seen.

Formal operations (beginning at ages 11 to 15). At this stage objects are no longer necessary for formal judgments as conceptualization in abstract thinking is well developed and the child can make rational judgments with reasoning ability.

The learning theories discussed here suggest that learning skills could be developed in a number of ways although all these theories suggest that learning is a part of cognitive development and in most cases children undergo learning when they develop skills for social interaction. Learning and social development are closely related as learning occurs due to interaction with the social environment. Skills are learnt and learning causes change through our understanding of concepts. Learning thus almost always happens when concepts are stored in the form of mental images which are then accessed in new situations. Learning is thus highly generalized and skills acquired in one situation could be applicable to another. This has been especially explained in classical conditioning although behaviorist theories may have become unpopular due to complete denial of mind. The inner psychological processes during learning as taken up by almost all theorists except behaviorists form an important part of learning and the essential elements of learning seem to be motivation, memory and observation/reflection and all these elements are essential to the learning process. Learning has been explained as a process as in Kolb's theory and in stages as in Erikson's theory and simply as a stimulus response automated reaction as explained in Pavlov's theory. This discussion suggests how the learning skills theory could be best applied to special education needs setting as these theories help to understand how learning occurs and what would be the emphasis of learning methods in special education classrooms.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.

Bandura, A. (1969). Principles of Behavior Modification. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Bandura, A. & Walters, R. (1963). Social Learning and Personality Development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Crawford, K. (1996) Vygotskian approaches to human development in the information era. Educational Studies in Mathematics. (31) 43-62.

Driscoll, M.P. (1994). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Kolb, David A. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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