ANALYSIS OF LEARNING THEORY
A PAPER SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE FOR THE DEGREE OF THE MASTER OF DIVINITY
DSMN 601 MINISTRY OF TEACHING
JANUARY 20, 2013
Teaching and education in the church utilizes both the spiritual, as well as the psychological. Andy Stanley and Lane Jones in their book Communicating For A Change discuss teaching the Bible in a clear and concise way that encourages one to change. William Yount in his book Created to Learn examines traditional learning theory and how it applies to teaching the Bible. Andy Stanley has come up with three ways one can approach teaching the Bible. The first way is to teach the Bible to people. This method is just to educate the people about Bible facts. It does not address doctrine or to dig deeper into biblical truth. Stanley states, “This is the perfect approach for the communicator whose goal is to simply explain what the Bible teaches.” This is not a very helpful teaching method. Just knowing Bible knowledge will not impact one’s life. Change requires application. The second way to approach teaching Scripture is to teach people the Bible. This is the traditional way pastors and teachers approach the Scriptures. It is three points and a poem. Stanley states, “This goal differs from the first in that the communicator takes his audience into account as he plans his approach.” The third method of teaching is the method the authors present, which is hearing and doing. Stanley states, “A third goal, and the one I subscribe to, is to teach people how to live a life that reflects the values, principles and truths of the Bible. In short, my goal is change. I want them to do something different instead of just think about it.” This is best summed up when James states to be a doer of the Word not just a hearer, in the first chapter, talks about being a hearer and a doer of the Word. Appling the Word is the only way one will see any change in one’s life. Learning also has a psychological aspect as well. There are various theories on how one learns. One such theory is behavioral learning theory. Behavioral theory teaches that one learns through conditioning. Edward Thorndike has adapted traditional behavioral learning to the classroom. William Yount describes Thorndike’s law of readiness. “The law of readiness states that learning proceeds best when learners are properly prepared to respond…In the classroom, learning proceeds best when learners are made ‘ready’ – when they are engaged in the subject – at the beginning of the session.” The law of readiness takes into account the environment where learning takes place. By providing the optimal learning environment, the teacher is creating an atmosphere that encourages learning. Learning also takes place through repetition and practice, which is known as the law of exercise. The third law Thorndike recognizes is the law of effect. Yount states, “The law of effect states that any response that is followed by pleasure or reward strengthens the association between that response and its stimulus.” This theory treats human learning just like training an animal. It does not take into consideration man’s spiritual nature. However, conditioning is useful in classroom management and conduct. Another theory of learning is social learning theory. Albert Bandura is the psychologist who popularized this theory. It has four stages. Stage one is known as attention. Yount states, “Attention is attracted, intentionally or not, by the perception that models help status competence, popularity, success, or similarity.” The concept of modeling is best described biblically as discipleship. The next phase is called retention. Yount states, “Retention – ‘retaining information or impressions’ – refers to the observer’s encoding of the model’s behavior into memory so that it can be remembered and produced at a later time.” This is done by mentally...