What are the Theories of Learning?

Theories of Learning – During learning, learning theory defines how pupils absorb, process, and remember knowledge. Understanding, or a world perspective, is gained or altered, and information and skills are kept, all of which are influenced by cognitive, emotional, and contextual factors, as well as past experience.

Learning is viewed as a form of conditioning by behaviourists, who argue for a reward and target system in education. Educators that believe in cognitive theory argue that the notion of learning as a change in behaviour is too restrictive, and instead focus on the learner rather than the environment, especially when it comes to the complexity of human memory.

Constructivists think that a learner’s capacity to learn is primarily dependent on what they already know and understand and that knowledge acquisition should be a personalised process of creation. The focus of transformative learning theory is on the often-required shift in a learner’s assumptions and worldview.

Current and future instructors must be trained in order to be prepared to teach kids on a daily basis, and recognising different learning styles is a vital component of that education. Teachers can benefit from a variety of well-established learning theories as they prepare to assist students in the classroom. (Theories of Learning)

Teachers that are familiar with learning theories can employ a variety of approaches in their classes to accommodate various types of learning. This can assist all pupils in achieving academic achievement.

Although education theories did not begin in earnest until the early twentieth century, the ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were interested in how people learn. They investigated whether knowledge and truth might be discovered internally (rationalism) or outside (observation) (empiricism).

Psychologists began to answer this topic with scientific investigations in the 19th century. The idea was to objectively investigate how people learn and then build teaching methods to match.

The argument between educational theorists in the twentieth century was concentrated on behaviourist theory vs cognitive psychology. Or, to put it another way, do humans learn by reacting to external stimuli or by constructing knowledge from external facts using their brains?

What are the 4 Theories of Learning?

The 4 Theories of learning are Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning, Cognitive Theory, and Social Learning Theory.

Learning is defined as a person’s personal development as a result of cooperative engagement with others. Understanding allows learners to operate better in their environment, develop and adjust their behaviour, form and sustain healthy relationships, and achieve personal achievement. (Theories of Learning)

4 theories of learning diagram
4 Theories of Learning diagram

If an individual behaves, interacts, and responds differently from others as a result of experiences, that individual has learned something. Some of these theories are:

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a sort of conditioning in which a person reacts to stimuli that would not normally elicit such a reaction. It is the process of learning to link a specific object in our surroundings to a prediction of what will occur next.

Classical conditioning, or the connection of one experience with another desired occurrence that results in behaviour, is one of the most straightforward learning processes. When we think of classical conditioning, the first person who comes to mind is Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov.

The flavour of food is a common stimulation for saliva flow. However, the sheer sight of juicy peach, hearing it described, or even thinking about it may make the mouth water. To induce action, one set is swapped with another.

A conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus are used in classical conditioning. The meat served as an unconditioned stimulus, causing the dog to behave in a predictable manner.

theories of learning
Theories of Learning

The unconditioned response was the reaction that happened anytime an unconditioned stimulus occurred. The bell served as a conditioned stimulus in this case. When the bell was delivered alone, it finally elicited a reaction when combined with the meat. This is a learned behaviour.

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is the second form of conditioning.

We learn that specific conduct is frequently followed by a reward or punishment in this section. B.F. Skinner, a Harvard psychologist, did for operant conditioning what Pavlov achieved for classical conditioning.

According to operant conditioning, one’s conduct will change depending on the situation. People will continuously act in a certain way in order to reap the rewards.

They will, on the other hand, endeavour to avoid any activity that may result in their receiving nothing. Skinner suggested that by associating pleasant consequences with certain types of conduct, the frequency of that activity will grow. B.F. Skinner, a psychologist, trained rats to press a lever to acquire food in one famous operant learning experiment. A hungry rat was placed in a box with a lever linked to some hidden food in this experiment.

At first, the rat scurried about aimlessly in the box. During this operation, the lever was accidentally pressed, and the food fell into the box. The act of pressing the lever was reinforced by the falling of food. The rat learnt to push the lever for food after several repetitions of the procedure of pressing the lever and falling down food.

If desired actions are favourably rewarded, people are more inclined to engage in them. When rewards are given right after the intended reaction, they are most effective. In addition, non-rewarding or punishing conduct is less likely to be repeated.

An Easy Guide To The 7Cs Of Communication

Consider the following scenario: you work for ‘X’ Bank Limited. Your Branch Manager mentioned in a meeting that if you can deliver the bank a $100,000,000 deposit, you will receive a bonus. You put forth a lot of effort and discovered that you were successful.

Cognitive Theory

Cognition is a term that describes a person’s thoughts, knowledge of interpretations, understandings, or ideas about himself and his surroundings. This is a method of learning that entails engaging in active and productive mental processes, such as practising or recalling information.

You may have been taught to tell time by gazing at a clock as an example. You may have had to practise telling the time when you first learned the significance of the large and little hands.

There were no physical movements or actions involved in this learning process. It was completely cognitive, in the sense that it was all based on internal thought. The hypothesis has been used to describe mental processes as they are impacted by both intrinsic and external variables, resulting in individual learning. (Theories of Learning)

Social Learning Theory

The social learning hypothesis, often known as observational learning, emphasises an individual’s ability to learn through witnessing what other people do rather than just being informed about something. Models, parents, professors, classmates, motion pictures, TV artists, bosses, and others may all teach you something.

theories of learning complete learning
Theories of Learning complete learning

Many behavioural patterns are learnt by witnessing others’ actions and seeing the consequences for them. The primary difficulty in this theory is claimed to be the effect of models. The 4 processes in Social Learning Theory are:

Attention process

People can only learn from a model if they notice and pay attention to its key characteristics. The student will not be able to learn anything if they are not paying attention. We are most influenced by beautiful models who are frequently available and whom we believe are significant or who are similar to us.

Retention process

The impact of a model is determined by how well people recall the model’s behaviours after the model is no longer available.

Motor reproduction process

After viewing the model and witnessing a new behaviour, the watching must be turned to doing. It entails recalling the model’s behaviours as well as conducting one’s own actions and comparing them to the model’s. (Theories of Learning)

Reinforcement process

If positive incentives or prizes are offered, people are more likely to mimic the modelled behaviour. Positively rewarded behaviour receives greater attention, is better learnt, and is repeated more frequently.

Finally, social learning theory may be defined as a function of outcomes. It also recognises the relevance of perception in learning and the presence of observational learning.

In this situation, the learner must first identify the desired behaviour and then choose the proper model and modelling medium. Then he or she should set up a positive learning atmosphere and watch the model. (Theories of Learning)

If there is positive reinforcement associated with this activity, the learners will strive to remember and apply it in practise.

How to apply Theories of Learning in Teaching?

Teachers can use these learning theories in their classrooms by developing particular tactics and procedures. Teachers must initially focus on obtaining a well-rounded education in order to learn about a variety of teaching and classroom management strategies. Teachers must be familiar with learning theories in order to implement them in their classrooms.

Understanding learning theories allow teachers to interact with a wide range of pupils. Teachers can target multiple learning styles in order to reach different students, resulting in instruction that is tailored to the specific needs and abilities of each student.

Why Theories of Learning is Important to Understand?

The need for knowledge is a natural aspect of the human existence. As a result, many scientists, psychologists, and thought leaders have made a profession out of researching learning theories. Understanding how individuals learn is an important first step toward improving the learning process.

This is why teacher colleges and educator preparation programmes devote so much time to human development and diverse learning theories for teacher candidates. For all educators to be their most successful teachers in the classroom, they must have a foundational understanding of how people learn, especially how a kid learns and grows intellectually.

Educational theories have a range of effects on learning. Teachers’ approaches to education and classroom management might be influenced by learning theory examples. Finding the correct technique (even if it involves merging two or more learning theories) might be the difference between a successful and inspirational classroom experience and one that is not.

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