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Learning Theories Behaviourism, cognitivism, social constructivism.

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1 Learning Theories Behaviourism, cognitivism, social constructivism.

2 2 Relevance of Learning Theories Exploring these topics has relevance for:  A) You your personal learning style and study  B) Your work problem solving and design solutions

3 3 Learning Psychologists refer to learning as:  “a relatively permanent change in behaviour as a result of experience” Learning - not just for the classroom Fundamental process in all animals  the higher up the evolutionary scale, the more important is the ability to learn Animals adapt their behaviour to fit in with their environment and to changing circumstances  Why? In order to survive!

4 4 Theories on how people learn: Behaviorism Cognitivism Social Constructivism Piaget’s Developmental Theory Neuroscience Brain-Based Learning Learning Styles Multiple Intelligences Right Brain/Left Brain Thinking Communities of Practice Control Theory Observational Learning

5 5 We are concerned with: Behaviourism  actions based on stimuli Cognitivism  learner processes & strategies Social Constructivism  knowledge is constructed through social interaction

6 Behaviourism “Carrot & stick”

7 7 Behaviourism Overview Behaviourism a school of thought that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) Much of our behaviour consists of learned responses to simple signals  behaviour is the sum of many simple stimulus-response connections Basis of the theory Reinforcement shapes behaviour  Positive - increases the probability the behavior will happen again  Negative - decreases the likelihood the behavior will happen again  Positive - indicates the application of a stimulus  Negative - indicates the withholding of a stimulus

8 8 Focus - scientific & objective Behaviourists try to explain the causes of behaviour by studying only those behaviours that can be observed and measured Prior to behaviourism – “unscientific” techniques such as introspection, dealing with unmeasurable aspects of behaviour such as the role of the unconscious mind Behaviourists focus their efforts on two types of learning processes: 1. Classical conditioning 2. Operant conditioning

9 9 Behaviourists Psychologists who focus on stimulus-response connections Notable behaviourists:  Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) a Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician  John Broadus Watson (1878–1958) an American psychologist, established the psychological school of behaviorism, after doing research on animal behavior  B. F. Skinner (1904–1990) an American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform, and poet

10 10 Classical Conditioning (Pavlov) Learning by association. Salivation in dogs as part of research programme  dogs had started to salivate when they saw the people that usually fed them (also responded to the sound of the dishes being used for their meals) Pavlov set up an experiment to find out if the dogs could be trained to salivate at other stimuli, e.g. a bell or a light At feeding times, Pavlov would ring a bell and the amount of saliva produced by the dog was measured. After several 'trials' Pavlov rang the bell without presenting the food and found that the dogs salivated in the same way as if food was being presented. Note:  conditional response is the same as unconditioned response  difference = response was evoked by a different stimulus

11 11 “Pavlov’s Dog”

12 12 Operant Conditioning (Skinner) Operant conditioning reinforces the response to a stimulus making the response more probable in the future. Positive reinforcement is when a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of experiencing a positive condition. For example:  A hungry rat presses a bar in its cage and receives food. The food is a positive condition for the hungry rat. The rat presses the bar again, and again receives food. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is strengthened by the consequence of receiving food. Negative reinforcement is when a particular behavior is strengthened by the consequence of stopping or avoiding a negative condition. For example:  A rat is placed in a cage and immediately receives a mild electrical shock on its feet. The shock is a negative condition for the rat. The rat presses a bar and the shock stops. The rat receives another shock, presses the bar again, and again the shock stops. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is strengthened by the consequence of stopping the shock. Punishment a particular behavior is weakened by the consequence of experiencing a negative condition.  A rat presses a bar in its cage and receives a mild electrical shock on its feet. The shock is a negative condition for the rat. The rat presses the bar again and again receives a shock. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is weakened by the consequence of receiving a shock. Extinction a particular behavior is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing a positive condition or stopping a negative condition. For example:  A rat presses a bar in its cage and nothing happens. Neither a positive or a negative condition exists for the rat. The rat presses the bar again and again nothing happens. The rat's behavior of pressing the bar is weakened by the consequence of not experiencing anything positive or stopping anything negative.

13 13 Operant Conditioning

14 14 Behaviorism & Learning Learning for behaviourism is defined as a permanent change in behavior in the learner. This theory is relatively simple to understand because it relies only on observable behavior and describes several universal laws of behavior. Behaviorism often is used by teachers, who reward or punish student behaviours. Not all students respond to this type of “motivation”...

15 15 Criticisms of Behaviorism Too simplistic:  Even simple responses to stimuli require the processing of a vast amount of information Gaps in science  Does not explain some learning for for which there is no reinforcement mechanism, e.g. recognition of new language patterns by young children Moral implications  If behavior can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness, what about responsibility?

16 Cognativism

17 17 Cognitivism The cognitivist paradigm essentially argues that the “black box” of the mind should be opened and understood. The learner is viewed as an information processor (like a computer). Originators and important contributors:  Merrill -Component Display Theory (CDT),  Reigeluth (Elaboration Theory),  Gagne,  Briggs,  Wager,  Bruner (moving toward cognitive constructivism),  Schank (scripts),  Scandura (structural learning)

18 18 Cognitivism - Origins 1960s - cognitivist revolution replaced behaviorism in as the dominant paradigm. Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem- solving need to be explored (Snelbecker, 1983). Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions. Learning 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 active participation 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.

19 19 Focus - inner mental activities Ulric Neisser coined the term 'cognitive psychology' in his book, Cognitive Psychology, published in 1967  “The term ‘cognition’ refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations...” The main issues that interest cognitive psychologists are the inner mechanisms of human thought and the processes of knowing. Cognitive psychologists have attempted to throw light on the alleged mental structures that stand in a causal relationship to our physical actions. Cognitivism investigates the internal mental processes of thought, such as:  Visual processing  Memory  Problem solving  Language Opening the “black box” of the human mind is valuable and necessary for understanding how people learn.

20 20 How does learning occur? Learning is equated with discrete changes between states of knowledge, rather than with changes in the probability of response Cognitive theories stress the acquisition of knowledge and mental structures Focus on students’ conceptualization of learning processes Address the issues of how information is received, organized stored and is retrieved by the mind Concerned not so much with what learners do, but with what they know and how they come to acquire it Knowledge acquisition is described as a mental activity that requires internal coding and structuring by the learning. The learner is a very active participant in the learning process. Ertmer, P. & Newby, T. (1993)

21 21 Information processing model Explanations for how cognitive processes work are known as information processing theories or models. The three- component model of information processing is taught in Educational Psychology.

22 22 Which factors influence learning? Environmental conditions play a role (like in Behaviourism) Teacher  Instructional explanations  Demonstrations  Illustrative examples  Practice  Corrective feedback Student (mental activities of the learner)  Mental planning  Goal-setting  Organisational strategies  The way learners attend to, code, transform, rehearse, store and retrieve information  Learners’ thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values are influential in learning process Focus of cognitive approach is on changing the learner by encouraging him/her to use the appropriate learning strategies (to cope with unstructured domains) Ertmer, P. & Newby, T. (1993)

23 Constructivism Social Constructivism

24 24 Constructivism Constructivism is a theory on how people learn It holds that learning is an active, constructive process Constructivism in education  the curriculum should be learner-centered rather than teacher-centered.  learners arrive in the educational setting with prior knowledge that they can use as a building block for acquiring new knowledge.  learners construct meaning and understanding based on prior knowledge. (http://design.test.olt.ubc.ca/Cognitive- Construction) The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge. The learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation.

25 25 Some of the guiding principles of constructivism in education 1. Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning. 2. Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. And parts must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts. 3. The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Jacqueline and Martin Brooks, The Case for Constructivist Classrooms.

26 26 “Parts must be understood in the context of wholes.”

27 27 Originators and important contributors:  Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, Vico, Rorty, Bruner Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky  (1896–1934) a Russian-Belarusian psychologist, developed a social constructivism view of learning (“zone of proximal development”). Work was largely unkown to the West until it was published in Jean Piaget  (1896–1980) a Swiss psychologist and philosopher, well known for his pedagogical studies.

28 28 Vygotsky & social constructivism Vygotsky believed that learning is a social process, hence his theory is referred to as “social constructivism” Vygotsky’s social development theory is one of the foundations for constructivism. He believed that language, particularly self-talk and inner speech, plays a major role in learning. Major applications of Vygotsky's theory to education include:  Zone of Proximal Development  Scaffolding  Guided participation  Apprenticeship  Peer interaction

29 29 Vygotsky’s focus Vygotsky focused on the connections between people and the sociocultural context in which they act and interact in shared experiences (Crawford, 1996). According to Vygotsky, humans use tools that develop from a culture, such as speech and writing, to mediate their social environments. Initially children develop these tools to serve solely as social functions, ways to communicate needs. Vygotsky believed that the internalization of these tools led to higher thinking skills.

30 30 Social Development Theory Vygotsky’s social development theory asserts three major themes: 1. Social interaction plays a fundamental role in cognitive development. Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).” (Vygotsky, 1978). 2. The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). The MKO refers to anyone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept. The MKO is normally thought of as being a teacher, coach, or older adult, but the MKO could also be peers, a younger person, or even computers. 3. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is the distance between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance and/or with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem independently. According to Vygotsky, learning occurred in this zone.

31 31 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) "What a child can do with assistance today, she will be able to do by herself tomorrow" (Vygotsky, p. 81, 1978).

32 32 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) - definition Within this definition, all three themes of Vygotsky’s writings are apparent. 1. There is a social aspect, consisting of someone with expertise providing guidance 2. The social connections in conjunction with various cultural mediators, like symbols or even technology, allow for internalization of these processes to be applied in the future by the learners themselves

33 33 Social Development in Education Many schools have traditionally held a transmissionist or instructionist model in which a teacher or lecturer ‘transmits’ information to students. In contrast, Vygotsky’s theory promotes learning contexts in which students play an active role in learning. Roles of the teacher and student are therefore shifted, as a teacher should collaborate with his or her students in order to help facilitate meaning construction in students. Learning becomes a reciprocal experience for the students and teacher. In a constructivist classroom the teacher must function not as the "knower of all things", but as a facilitator of learning. Constructivism is a highly progressive model of education because it transfers control of learning from the teacher to the learner. No longer an instructor, the term “coach” may be a better application in educational settings. The learner constructs and validates his/her own set of knowledge with the prodding and instructions of his/her coach. Knowledge is negotiated and achieved through collaborative work (Mishra, 2002).

34 34 Constructivist Learning Goals  Emphasizes learning in context through meaningful activities  Focus on high-level thinking activities to develop cognitive flexibility  Constructivists are interested in having learners identify and pursue their own learning goals  Problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking and reflection constitute the goals of constructivist instruction

35 35 Constructivist Assumptions about Learning Constructivism is a view in which knowledge is believed to be constructed rather than acquired. It is not one theory but a multitude of approaches.  Only the active learner is a successful learner. Learning by doing enables learners to achieve deep levels of understanding.  Knowledge is constructed by learners as they attempt to make sense of their experiences.  Learners are actively seeking meaning because learning with understanding is desired, as opposed to rote learning.  Many constructivist theorists agree that there is a social component to learning, as learners test their own understandings against those of others, such as those of teachers or more advanced peers. Therefore, the social structure of a learning environment is important

36 36 Constructivist Conditions for Learning - conclusion  Process not products Focus on the process of learning, rather than the products of learning. This can be accomplished by embedding learning in complex, realistic and relevant environments.  Minimal hand-holding Simplifying tasks for learners will prevent them from learning how to solve the complex problems they will solve in real life by providing for social negotiation as an essential part of learning.  Academic / social development Higher mental processes develop through social interaction. Students develop and defend individual perspectives while recognizing those of others and teachers support multiple perspectives and the use of multiple modes of representation.  Mulit-sensory experience Viewing the same content through different sensory modes (such as visual, auditory, or tactile) enables different aspects of it to be seen and encourages ownership in learning.  Self-direction Students are actively involved in determining what their own learning needs are and how those needs can be satisfied, rather than being passive recipients of instruction that has been designed for them. Teachers share in the learning process rather than controlling it.

37 Recap on Learning Theories Behaviourism, cognativism, social constructivism

38 38 Learning Theories QuestionsBehaviourismCognativismConstructivism How does learning occur? Black box – observable behaviour main focus Structured, computationalSocial meaning created by each learner (personal) What factors influence learning Nature of reward, punishment, stimuli Existing schema, previous experiences Engagement, participation, social, cultural What is the role of memory? Memory is the hard-wiring of repeated experiences - where reward and punishment are most influential Encoding, storage, retrieval Prior knowledge remixed to current context How does transfer occur? Stimulus, reponseDuplicating knowledge constructs of “knower” Socialization Types of learning best explained by this theory? Task-based learningReasoning, clear objectives, problem solving Social, vague (“ill defined”) Adapted from Siemens' (2006) response to Verhagen, “Connectivisim: Learning theory or pastime for the self-amused?” based on Ertmer, P. & Newby, T. (1993) 'Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective', Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4): 50-72

39 39 Learning Theories Behaviourism  stimulus-response Cognativism  mind is an operating system Social Constructivism  knowledge is constructed in a social context


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