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Human Learning (PLLT) 78-86. “... the cognitive domain of human behavior is of key importance in the acquisition of both a first and a second language.

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Presentation on theme: "Human Learning (PLLT) 78-86. “... the cognitive domain of human behavior is of key importance in the acquisition of both a first and a second language."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Learning (PLLT) 78-86

2 “... the cognitive domain of human behavior is of key importance in the acquisition of both a first and a second language. The processes of perceiving, attending, storing, and recalling are central to the task of internalizing a language..”

3 What you need to know before you start teaching someone: 1. Entry behavior 2. Goals of the task 3. Methods of training 4. Evaluation procedure

4 What’s learning? Before we start talking about “Human Learning”, it is important we all understand what learning is: - “acquiring or getting of knowledge of a subject or a skill by study, experience, or instruction” “a relatively permanent change in behavioral tendency, … the result of reinforced practice”

5 Now, we will focus on how some psychologists have defined learning Learning 1.Behavoristic viewpoint: Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner 2. Rational/cognitive viewpoint: Ausubel 3. Constructivist school of thought: Carl Rogers

6 1. Behavioristic viewpoint

7 a) Ivan Pavlov For Pavlov the learning process consisted of the formation of associations between stimuli and reflexive responses, where a previously neutral stimulus (the sound of tuning fork) had acquired the power to elicit a response (salivation) that was originally elicited by another stimulus (the smell of meat).

8 b) John B. Watson John B. Watson strongly agreed with Pavlov’s findings regarding learning. He adopted classical conditioning theory as the explanation for all learning: by the process of conditioning we build an array of stimulus-response connections and more complex behaviors are learned by building up series of chains of responses. He believed that human behavior should be studied objectively, rejecting mentalistic notions of innatenes and instinct.

9 c) B.F. Skinner Skinner’s operant conditioning attempted to explain most of human learning and behavior. In order to understand learning from the viewpoint of Skinner, it is important to understand the following terms:

10 Operant behavior: behavior in which one “operates” on the environment; within this model the importance of stimuli is de-emphasized. Reinforcers: the events or stimuli that follow a response and that tend to strenghten behavior or increase the probability of a recurrence of that response. Operants: they are classes of responses. For example, crying, sitting down, walking, etc. These operants are emitted and governed by the consequences they produce. Respondents: sets of responses that are elicited by identifiable stimuli. Punishments: they can be either the withdrawal of a positive reinforcer or the presentation of an aversive stimulus.

11 According to Skinner, the best method of extinction is the absence of any reinforcement; however, the active reinforcement of alternative responses hurry that extinction. Following Skinner’s model, one is led to believe that virtually any subject matter can be taught effectively and successfully by a carefully designed program of step-by-step reinforcement. Skinner, in his book Verbal Behavior, describes language as a system of verbal operants. His understanding of the role of conditioning led to a whole new era in language teaching around the middle of the twentieth century. Classrooms adopted a “controlled practice of verbal operants under carefully designed schedules of reinforcement” methodology.

12 2. Rational/cognitive viewpoint

13 a) David Ausubel Claimed that learning takes place in the human organism through a meaningful process of relating new events or items to already existing cognitive concepts or propositions. His cognitive theory of learning can be best understood if we contrast rote learning (the mental storage of items having little or no association with existing cognitive structure. Without reference to cognitive hierarchical organization), and meaningful learning (the process or relating and anchoring new material to relevant established entities in cognitive structure.

14 When new material enteres the cognitive field, it interacts with, and is appropriately subsumed under, a more inclusive conceptual system. This way, it becomes meaningful. Meaningful learning is the processes where blocks become an integral part of already established categories or systematic clusters of blocks. Subsumed items are “pruned” in favor of a larger, more global conception, which is, in turn, related to other items in cognitive structure (systematic “forgetting”).

15 How can you turn a learning experience into a meaningful one? 1. Learners need to have a meaningful learning set: the disposition to relate the new learning task to what they already know. 2. The learning task needs to be potentially meaningful to the learners: it means that t has to be relatable to the learners’ structure of knowledge.

16 But what if the new learning experience has no relation to what we already know? What if the experience has no potential meaningfulness to the learners? Frank Smith (1975), contended that it is possible to “manufacture” meaningfulness. That is, we can make things meaningful if necessary and if we are strongly motivated to do so. For example, by using mnemonics or cognitive maps. William James (father of Fuctionalism) described meaningful learning in 1890.

17 Both rote learning and meaningful learning represent “learning”. Why is meaningful learning given more importance? The difference is clear. “Meaningful learning” represents better retention and storage of information in long-term memory. Human beings are capable of learning almost any given item within the so-called “magic seven, plur or minus two” units for perhaps a few seconds, but long-term memory is a different. Something meaningfully learned, and subsumed has a greater potential for retention.

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