Theories & Models of Learning

The study of how people learn has been a topic since the time of Socrates, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that scientists began to organize their studies and theories about learning. In 1924 Edward Lee Thorndike first coined the term “the law of effect” which later became known as operant conditioning. During the same year B.F. Skinner published “The Behavior of Organisms” in which he detailed his theory on operant conditioning called the “law of effect”.

In more recent years there has been a shift from a focus on behavior to a focus on cognition, also referred to as constructivism. In the early 1990’s Jean Piaget proposed that knowledge is constructed through a set of developmental cognitive processes. This is in contrast to the behaviorist view that learning is a result of stimulus and response associations.

In IB Psychology higher order thinking skills are emphasised, with most assessment tasks requiring students to analyse higher order questions which have been adapted from real life examples of essay type answers. There is typically more than one correct answer, which can be justified using evidence from the stimulus material (S).

By looking at all the models of learning it may seem like there is no single correct way to learn. Maybe everyone learns differently and that’s OK! As long as you understand how information is processed then it shouldn’t matter if you’re a behaviourist, constructivist, socioculturalist or whatever theory of learning you subscribe to.

 

Learning Process:

There are a variety of different models of learning, but in general they can be divided into two categories: behaviourist and constructivist.

Behaviourist theories of learning focus on the observable behaviours that result from learning, while constructivist learning theories focus on the cognitive process that takes place as learners create knowledge.

One of the most well-known behaviourist theories is operant conditioning, developed by Edward Lee Thorndike and later refined by B.F. Skinner. This theory states that learning is a result of stimulus and response associations.

Constructivist theories of learning were first proposed by Jean Piaget in the early 1970s. He believed that knowledge is constructed through a set of developmental cognitive processes.

Both behaviourist and constructivist theories have been criticised for their lack of consideration of social factors in learning. The sociocultural perspective, which was developed by Lev Vygotsky, emphasises the importance of social interaction in learning.

So what’s the best way to learn? Well, it depends on what type of learner you are. If you prefer to learn by doing, then a behaviourist approach may work best for you. If you like to think about things before you do them, then a constructivist approach would be more suitable. And if you want to consider the social context of learning, then the sociocultural perspective is the best option.

What are theories?

Theories are typically descriptions or explanations about how things work. They attempt to answer “why” and “how” questions about the world around us. A good theory is based on research that can be proven through repeated testing of it’s validity.

Learning theories can be thought of as explanations or descriptions about the process of learning . They attempt to answer “how” questions about how learners internalize new knowledge and typically have one or more assumptions that are linked back to a theory. A good theory is based on research that can be repeated and supported by evidence.

What are models?

Models are examples of how something works. They can be used to represent reality, for example the solar system is often represented as a model with the sun at it’s centre and planets orbiting around it. Models can help us understand complex systems by breaking them down into smaller parts that we know more about.

Theories can have models built around them, for example the social cognitive theory has a model which highlights four major components: personal factors, environmental or external influences, behavioural processes and outcomes.

Person Factors:

Personal factors involve things that happen within the individual such as thoughts, feelings, expectations and intentions. This is often referred to as “state” or “cognitive” variables.

Environmental Factors:

External influences such as motivation, arousal and warmth can impact on cognitive functioning. This is often referred to as “state” or “affective” variables.

Behavioural Processes:

Behaviours and actions that relate directly to the individual (e.g. social behaviours).

Outcomes Consequences that result from the behaviours.

What are facts?

Facts are typically statements of truth or information that can be proven, for example the capital of Germany is Berlin. Facts don’t change and can often be repeatedly tested for validity. They often lead to “why” questions.

Theories are the basis of models, which can be used to create theories. Facts are the building blocks of theories. Models describe how things work whereas theories explain why they work.

There are some key differences between learning theories, models and facts but it’s important to understand that all three are related in some way or form. A new theory may be based on research and facts, building a model around the results, which further supports the theory.

Using this information we can explain how learning works: theories provide explanations for why learning happens, descriptions for models and facts as the building blocks of theories.

What is the best learning theory?

The answer to this question is dependent on what you’re trying to learn and why. It’s not necessarily the case that one theory works better for all learners.

It’s important to focus on learning why theories are based on research, how they can be tested for validity and how they relate back to models which must have building blocks which can be tested for validity.

If you’re looking to create a new learning theory then it may be best to start with the “why” and the “how”, e.g. why did we learn this way? How can we test what we know so far about how people learn and apply that research to improve our own thinking?

To use a learning analogy, you want to create a solid foundation before building the house.

 

Cognitive Learning Theory

Cognitive behavioral theory:

A cognitive behavioral theory is a type of learning theory that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It’s based on the idea that our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors.

The cognitive behavioral theory has been supported by research and is often used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. The model highlights three key elements: thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Thought processes:

Cognitive behavioral theory suggests that our thoughts (cognitions) are the root of our feelings and behaviors. This means that if we change our thoughts, we can also change our feelings and behaviors.

Feelings:

The theory suggests that our feelings are a result of our thoughts. This means that we can change our feelings by changing our thoughts.

Behavior:

The theory suggests that our behaviors are a result of our thoughts and feelings. This means that we can change our behaviors by changing our thoughts and feelings.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that is based on the cognitive behavioral theory. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help people change the way they think so that they can change the way they feel and behave.

Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. For example, a study published in The Lancet found that cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective than placebo in treating depression.

What is Cognitive learning theory?

Cognitive learning theory is a psychological theory that explains how people learn. The theory suggests that people learn by constructing their own understanding of the world, based on their experiences and what they already know. This process is known as cognition.

Cognitive learning theory is based on the idea that human beings are active learners. We construct our own understanding of the world, based on our experiences and what we already know. We do this through a process called cognition – or thinking.

One of the key features of cognitive learning theory is that it emphasises the importance of practice. In order to learn, we need to practise what we have learned. This is known as ‘the law of exercise’ – the more we practise something, the better we will become at it.

A Cognitive learning approach to teaching would focus on giving students opportunities to think about what they are learning, and to practise and apply new knowledge and skills. Teachers using a cognitive approach would ask students questions that require them to think critically about what they know, and to use their own experiences and prior knowledge to construct their own understanding of the world.

Cognitive learning strategies:

There are a number of cognitive learning strategies that can be used to improve memory and learning. Some of the most common strategies include chunking, creating mnemonic devices, and rehearsing information.

Chunking is a strategy that involves breaking down information into smaller pieces. This can be helpful for remembering long lists of items or for learning complex concepts. Mnemonic devices are tricks that help you remember information by associating it with something else that is easy to remember. Rehearsing information means repeating it out loud or mentally over and over again. This can help you to learn and remember the information more effectively.

Cognitive learning examples:

One example of cognitive learning in action is the way that children learn to read. They do not simply memorise a list of letter sounds and then start reading words. Instead, they construct their own understanding of how language works, based on their experiences and what they know. This process involves thinking about the letters and sounds they are seeing, and trying to make sense of them.

Another example is the way that students learn maths. They do not simply memorise a set of equations and formulas. Instead, they learn how to think mathematically, by working out problems and solving puzzles. This involves using their cognitive skills to understand and process information.

Collaborative learning:

Collaborative learning is a type of learning that takes place when students work together to achieve a common goal. There are several benefits of collaborative learning, including:

– improved problem solving skills

– increased motivation and engagement

– better understanding of the material

– enhanced social skills

– improved teamwork skills

There are many different ways to implement collaborative learning in the classroom. Some common approaches include group work, peer tutoring, and jigsawing.

Group work involves students working together to complete a task or project. Peer tutoring involves students helping each other to learn new material. Jigsawing is a technique where students are divided into small groups and each group is given a different section of the material to learn. They then come together to share what they have learned and put it all together.

There are many benefits of collaborative learning, and it can be a great way for students to learn and engage with the material. Try using collaborative learning strategies in your classroom and see how your students respond.

Implicit learning vs Explicit learning:

There are two main types of learning – implicit learning and explicit learning. Implicit learning takes place without any conscious effort on the part of the learner. It occurs gradually, as students interact with the material and learn from their own experiences. Explicit learning takes place when learners are consciously aware of what they are doing and what they are learning. It involves active engagement with the material and requires focus and concentration.

There are pros and cons to both implicit and explicit learning. Implicit learning is more natural, and it allows students to learn at their own pace. It can also be more effective, as students have more time to process the information and integrate it into their understanding. Explicit learning is more structured, and it allows students to ask questions and get feedback. It can also be more efficient, as learners can cover more material in a shorter amount of time.

Emotional learning:

Emotional learning is a type of learning that takes place when students experience and process emotions. It can involve both positive and negative emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear.

There are many benefits of emotional learning, including:

– improved problem solving skills

– increased motivation and engagement

– better understanding of the material

 Internal and external factors:

There are a number of internal and external factors which can impact observational learning. For example, a child’s developmental stage can play a role in their ability to observe and learn from others. In addition, the observer’s own attitudes and beliefs will affect how they interpret information they see.

External factors such as the setting in which learning takes place and the models chosen for observation are also important. If a child is constantly being exposed to violence, they may become desensitized to it. Alternatively, if they only observe positive behavior, they may develop a more positive view of the world.

The media can also have a significant impact on observational learning, as it often dictates which behaviors are considered acceptable. This is particularly true for children, who are often highly influenced by the images and messages they see on television and in advertising.

So what does all this mean for observational learning? It seems that there are a number of factors which come into play, including the observer’s attention, motivation, and developmental stage. In addition, the external environment and the media can play a role in shaping the observer’s views. It is important to be aware of these factors when attempting to learn new behaviors or attitudes through observation.

Mental processes:

The passage of time and the associated memories are also affected by mental processes. For example, if you think about a past event that made you happy, the memory of that event will likely feel more vivid than if you had not thought about it. Similarly, if you concentrate on something unpleasant from the past, that memory is likely to be more bothersome.

The Psychology of Learning: Models, Theories and Facts

is a seminal book on the theory of learning by American educational psychologist Albert Bandura. He describes here models of learning that are experimental, statistical or physiological in nature. Bandura emphasizes that these are only models, i.e., pure theoretical constructs with limited empirical validity at best, and they provide little insight into the actual process of behavior change.

The author then describes the processes that are involved in observational learning and differentiates between three separate neural mechanisms: the mirror-neuron system, the basal ganglia and cerebellum. Bandura also introduces a new theory of motor control he calls “noda”, which is a contraction for “no displacement assumption”. He argues that there is a close relationship between the processes of motor control and perception (and learning), and he describes how “noda” can explain many findings in the field.

The concept of observational learning has moved into prominence within both educational psychology and social psychology, after nearly three decades of research that had shown that kids learn behaviors by watching other people. Bandura’s book is still very influential within this sub-field of psychology.

The “Psychology of Learning” has been published in five editions (1977, 1981, 1986, 1997 and 2002) with co-author Richard Walters. It was originally developed as a filmstrip series released by National Film Board of Canada. The first edition contained several chapters on language acquisition that were removed in subsequent editions.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, cognitive learning theory is a powerful way of understanding how people learn. It emphasises the importance of practice, and highlights the role that thinking and problem solving play in learning. Teachers using a cognitive approach to teaching will ask students questions that require them to think critically about what they know, and to use their own experiences and prior knowledge to construct their own understanding of the world. There are a number of cognitive learning strategies that can be used to improve memory and learning, such as chunking, creating mnemonic devices, and rehearsing information. Collaborative learning is a type of learning that takes place when students work together to achieve a common goal. There are many benefits of collaborative learning, and it can be a great way for students to learn and engage with the material. Try using collaborative learning strategies in your classroom and see how your students respond.

 

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