Learning Theories

by megantaylor05

I do not hold to one strict learning theory, but think that various theories can be ideal for certain learning objectives. I believe that learning can occur in multiple ways in different situations, depending on the content, environment, and individual student. 

Of the 5 theories of learning, however, I agree with the theories falling under the umbrella of constructivism most fervently. The constructivist theory of learning states that knowledge is constructed by the learner, instead of “fed” to them (objective theory), and how the mind handles knowledge is impacted by the learner’s experiences, previous ideas, and biases. Instruction should be centered around the learner, which is one of my central beliefs regarding learning and teaching. The constructivist theories support higher order thinking, which I believe can be applied with any subject matter, including fact-based informational content. Even with these, I have seen that the student learns “better” when they are able to experience the information and connect to it in his/her own way. 

In my classroom and instructional design, I aim to facilitate learning that employs factors of both the cognitive information processing model of learning as well as the cooperative model of learning. Because the information processing theory focuses on the learner’s cognitive processes, the individual’s learning preferences/styles are very important to consider when designing instruction. This requires individualized instruction, which is made more possible with technology, because the teacher can provide diverse resources to support individual students’ learning. The cooperative learning model of learning is also an extension of the constructivist theory and encourages student cooperation, and collaboration. At its core is the idea that students build knowledge through interaction with other students and sharing of ideas. However it is critical that every student participates in the sharing and discussing of concepts, and the teacher provides feedback to the groups. 

My personal theory of learning from an instructor’s perspective, as well as my own personal preferences as a student, include various aspects of the three constructivist-based models. I believe that learning is very difficult when students cannot experience the information, relate to it, and form their own knowledge. The instructional designer and teacher’s job is to facilitate learning, exploration, critical thinking, and higher-order thinking. I think when the teacher accepts these theories of learning, they are more likely to reach each and every student. 

Leidner, D.E. & Jarvenpaa, S.L. (2008) The use of information technology to enhance management school education: A theoretical view. MIS Quarterly, 19(3), p. 265-291. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/249596?origin=JSTOR-pdf