In this assignment I will be exploring a range of concepts, principles and theories of learning and assessment that apply to FE and the lifelong learning sector. I will apply these concepts, principles and theories to review the learning of my own students in my specialist area and how to respond to learning needs.
There are a number of theories and concepts of learning which have been identified by a number of theorists. The four main theories are Humanism, Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Experiential Learning. Beyond these are a range of other theories and concepts that apply to FE. Learning theories not only explore how people learn but how different people of different ages respond in different ways to different methods of learning.
Learning theories explore the factors which affect learning and the impact this has on the learner. The Humanist approach concentrates on placing the individual at the centre of the learning process; it is based on the study of the learning needs of an individual. There are a number of Humanist theorists the most prominent being, Malcolm Knowles and Carl Rogers. The most recognised is Abraham Maslow who developed the theory of a hierarchy of needs. The basis of this theory is that learning will occur by the educator acting as a facilitator to establish and atmosphere in which learners are comfortable to consider and further explore new ideas. It demonstrates the belief that humans have a natural eagerness to learn.
Carl Rogers influence on the Humanist approach demonstrates that he believed in the respect and feeling of the learners. Rogers in Hillier States;
“We should have a warm regard for our learners, but except them as individuals in their own right, we need to treat them with empathy” (Hillier 2005 P80).
Learners should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and should provide significant input for the learning through their insights and experiences. Maslow noted that adult learners want to know why they are learning something where as children do not question it, this is known as Andragogy. The Humanist theory explores similar points to that of experiential learning and Kolb’s Learning Cycle explored later in this text. Wallace States;
“This learning cycle shows us that learning is a continual process of creating knowledge out of experience; whilst on the other hand a definition of knowledge based simply on learning outcomes could, he argues, have a negative impact on the learners ability to modify, adapt and make sense of their experience”.(Wallace 2007 P 166).
The two learning processes looked at already are very much geared toward the way in which adults learn. Adults will take responsibility for their learning and will improve on that learning. There are a number of other theories in which learning styles of other groups of learners are also explored. We must not overlook the fact that children and young adults learn in a different way to adult learners.
Behaviourism explores the way in which humans will react to a stimulus. Giving a stimuli in the learning environment should provoke a reaction, as we have seen adults will react by furthering their learning and taking responsibility for this. Teachers can observe responses to stimuli; Skinner observed that learners may choose from a range of responses available. Skinner’s analysis of the learning process is based on the importance of conditioning the learner’s operant behaviour. Curzon States
“Learning is, in essence, the result of the creation of conditioned connections between the learner’s operant behaviour and its reinforcement; it involves a change in the form or probability of the learner’s responses.” (Curzon 2003 P73).
Teachers can observe this theory and act upon it to promote inclusive learning. By observing student reactions to stimulus teachers can apply changes to their teaching styles to promote the inclusivity of all learners....