In prior deliverables, different concepts and theories of instructional models and common terminology were discussed and were introduced to an intra-field debate. Learning theories are no different; there are as many theorists of each of the major theories, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism, and just as many models. Within this deliverable, an understanding of the theories will be made, through the use of an advanced organizer, comparing and contrasting the major theories and the sub-sets Principles, Characteristics, Theorists, and Theories/Models.
Behaviorism is a response given to an environmental stimulus that is usually followed on with a reinforcement to enforce or diminish behavior. Although instruction had been studied and analyzed for over 100 years it was not until the 1950’s a definitive theorist came to defining the field of Instructional Design through behaviorism. Specifically, B. F. Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory was a catalyst to the Instructional Field. Through this theory B. F. Skinner was able to transcend Pavlov’s work of respondent behavior into operant behavior responding to the environment. However, behaviorism focused on the environment and only saw the learner as a “black box,” making it difficult to segue to problem solving. To move beyond, theorists had to look within the “black box” and the theory of cognitivism was brought forth.
Cognitivism is focused on learner cognition in the internal structures of the learner and how the information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind (Ertmer, 1993). Cognitivism gained speed in the 1960’s to overcome the limitations of behaviorism. The learners were unable to transfer learning to action, training was too general, divergent (moving apart) and convergent (merging) reasoning were not facilitated, and the introduction of complex instructional requests. Theorist started looking at how the mind attains and retains information. The field also focused on declarative (knowing “that”) and procedural (knowing “how”) knowledge, perception, and short and long memory stores within the learner. The discussions of human cognition brought a new, contemporary, way of viewing instruction, constructivism.
Constructivism state learning is a constructive process in which the learner is building an internal representation of knowledge, a personal interpretation of experience. (Bednar,1991). Constructivism is a sub-set of cognitivism and was coined by Duffy and Johannsan in 1990 by bringing together a number of theories. Its foundations are on epistemology (how and what we know) and not the environment. Unlike behaviorism and cognitivism, constructivism is focused on the leaner making it incompatible with objectivism (Bednar, 1991). In addition, all knowledge is malleable as it is obtained through internal and external relationships but is always subject to change as new perceptions are formed.
The Advanced Organizer
The following is an advanced organizer comparing and contrasting behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. An explanation is presented below the organizer.
Explanation of the Advanced Organizer
The advanced organizer is a hybrid of a concept map and table. The top has an open sentence asking the reader “Does the learner…,” three arrows go from the top box to three other boxes to complete the sentence. The first asks “…have a little content foundation, but needs to apply basic structure?” The Second, “…have a content foundation but needs to work with guidelines?” Finally, the third, “… have a solid background and needs to work through ill-structured issues?” The reader then picks what describes the training they wish to conduct and follows the arrow that completes the sentence giving the suggested learning theory. The first path leads to behaviorism, the second to cognitivism, and the third to constructivism.
Under the theory...