Traditional Learning Theories Essay

Pages: 2 (625 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching

Traditional Learning Theories

Behaviorism, constructivism, and cognitive theories of learning

Behavioral theories of learning tend to view the learning process as a skill-based enterprise. The fundamentals of behaviorist theories of learning emphasize "breaking down the skills and information to be learned into small units, checking student's work regularly and providing feedback as well as encouragement (reinforcement)" (Chen, 2010, Behavioral theories). Behaviorism emphasizes rewarding desirable behaviors and not rewarding or actively punishing negative behaviors, much like the originator of behaviorism, BF Skinner rewarded rats learning to run a maze correctly. Although no teacher today would use such a blatant method of rewards and punishment as Skinner, the influence of behaviorism can be seen in many teacher-centered methods of learning and assessment. "Lectures, tutorials, drills, demonstrations, and other forms of teacher controlled teaching tend to dominate behavioral classrooms," so that correct behaviors can be rewarded, and negative ones corrected (Chen, 2010, Behavioral theories). In behaviorism, skills are isolated from their real-world context. For example, a child might use a computer program that drills him or her in the irregular or subjunctive tenses of a foreign language.

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In stark contrast to behaviorism, constructivism conceptualizes a much more active role for the student in the learning process. The constructivist teacher acts as a guide, as students "tackle problems, adventures, and challenges" (Chen, 2010, Social constructivist). The teacher creates an environment that is pro-learning, so students can become excited about the learning process as they explore their interests. Examples of constructivist strategies include encouraging children to work in groups, debate open-ended questions, and engage in hands-on activities. Another contrast between behaviorism and constructivism is that constructivism emphasizes teaching strategies that mimic how skills will be applied in real life, rather than views skills as something generalized and abstract. Teaching children how to add and subtract by making change on an excursion to a toy store would… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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