Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed, and knowledge and skills retained. * Behaviorists look at learning as an aspect of conditioning and will advocate a system of rewards and targets in education. * Educators who embrace cognitive theory believe that the definition of learning as a change in behavior is too narrow and prefer to study the learner rather than her environment, and in particular the complexities of human memory. Those who advocate * constructivism believe that a learner's ability to learn relies to a large extent on what he already knows and understands, and that the acquisition of knowledge should be an individually tailored process of construction. * Transformative learning theory focuses upon the often-necessary change that is required in a learner's preconceptions and world view. Educational psychology
John Watson (1878–1959) coined the term "behaviorism." Watson believed that theorizing thoughts, intentions or other subjective experiences was unscientific and insisted that psychology must focus on measurable behaviors. For behaviorism, learning is the acquisition of a new behavior through conditioning. Conditioning
There are two types of conditioning:
* Classical conditioning, where the behavior becomes a reflex response to stimulus. * Operant conditioning, where there is reinforcement of the behavior by a reward or a punishment. Classical conditioning was noticed by Ivan Pavlov when he saw that if dogs come to associate the delivery of food with a white lab coat or with the ringing of a bell, they will produce saliva, even when there is no sight or smell of food. Classical conditioning regards this form of learning to be the same whether in dogs or in humans. Operant conditioning, or radical behaviorism, reinforces this behavior with a reward or a punishment. A reward increases the likelihood of the behavior recurring, a punishment decreases its likelihood. Behaviorists view the learning process as a change in behavior, and will arrange the environment to elicit desired responses through such devices as behavioral objectives, * Cognitivism
Cognitive theories grew out of Gestalt psychology, developed in Germany in the early 1900s and brought to America in the 1920s. The German word gestalt is roughly equivalent to the English configuration or pattern and emphasizes the whole of human experience. Over the years, the Gestalt psychologists provided demonstrations and described principles to explain the way we organize our sensations into perceptions. Gestalt psychologists criticize behaviorists for being too dependent on overt behavior to explain learning. They propose looking at the patterns rather than isolated events. Gestalt views of learning have been incorporated into what have come to be labeled cognitive theories. Two key assumptions underlie this cognitive approach: that the memory system is an active organized processor of information and that prior knowledge plays an important role in learning. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to consider how human memory works to promote learning, and an understanding of short term memory and long term memory is important to educators influenced by cognitive theory. They view learning as an internal mental process (including insight, information processing, memory and perception) where the educator focuses on building intelligence and cognitive development. The individual learner is more important than the environment. * Constructivism
Built on the work of Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner, constructivism emphasizes the importance of the active involvement of learners in constructing knowledge for themselves, and building new...