Learning Theories - Essay Example

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Learning defined as 'the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill.' (American Heritage, 2000). On a psychological perspective, 'learning is often defined as a change in behavior (Birkenholz, 1999), which is demonstrated by people implementing knowledge, skills, or practices derived from education.'
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Learning Theories
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Download file to see previous pages Behaviorists like Ivan Pavlov (1936) and Skinner (1990) states that behavior is explained by environmental causes, rather than by internal forces. It also emphasizes that the environment influences human behavior. Whereas, the Social Learning theory, states that people learn through the observation of other people. According to Bandura, (1977, p22) 'Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasion s this coded information serves as a guide for action.' (1977, p22). On the other hand, Cognitive Learning theorist 'were concerned with cognition - the act or process of knowing.' (Smith, 1999). Researchers like Jean Piaget, while recognizing the contribution of environment, explored changes in internal cognitive structure. It explained that every human being is bound to these stages. This also tells us that learning depends on the level or stage that we are in. Lastly, Humanistic approach to learning have explained that human beings as self-actualizing. The theory explains that people are bound to growth.
In humanism, 'learning is student centered and personalized, and the educator's role is that of a facilitator. Affective and cognitive needs are key, and the goal is to develop self-actualized people in a cooperative, supportive environment.' (Huit, 2001)
The famous theory of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of needs (1954) identifies the needs of individual that needs to be considered in a learning environment. The hierarchy of needs is illustrated by a triangle in most references. The hierarchy are as follow: 1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.; 2) Safety/security: out of danger; 3) Belonginess and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and 4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition. 5) Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one's potential. According to Maslow, if an individual successfully fulfilled the needs, they will achieve self-actualization.
Applied to a learning environment, a student should be able to satisfy his/her physiological needs in order for him/her to focus on learning a lesson. We can consider the physiological needs as food, clothing, shelter and the like. Imagine a student who has not eaten breakfast and came to school for his/her first class, the student may not be able to understand or comprehend his/her teacher if his/her stomach aching out of hunger. Once the physiological needs are in place and all right, Safety and security is next to be addressed, a student may consider his/her physical safety going to school. If the student feels that he/she is not secured in the school, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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