Theories of Early Learning

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Theories of Early Learning
Iowa Western Community College

This paper consists of early theories of learning and development. It starts out with the basics of learning and development and ends with the theories of a few scientists. The first theory is ACT, introduced by John Anderson. ACT is an acronym for Adaptive Character of Thought. The second theory is The Elaboration Theory, introduced by Charles Reigeluth. Jean Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology appears in this paper, along with the Gestalt Theory, introduced by Max Wertheimer. B.F Skinner’s well known Operant Conditioning is covered. Lastly, but not least, is Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. All of these theories are different, and shows how each individual scientist believes the children in their community learned and developed.

Theories of Early Learning
People may learn in many different ways. Many scientists have their own thoughts of how children learn, develop, and perceive the world around them. There are a few basic principles to learning that most people and scientists would agree on, though.

The first is that a person can learn through the context of what he or she is reading or experiencing (Driscoll, 2006). When a person reads a sentence by itself, it may not make as much sense as it would if it had other sentences around it or if the person knew background information. People will try to make sense of such sentences with other experiences in their lives or understandings they have made about something else that could pertain to the sentence they just read. The conclusions they come up with could be completely different from the true meaning of the sentence. People need other information to make sense of what they are reading and learn what they should be learning.

The second principle is that people learn by being active in what they are learning. If a person tells a child something, the child will most likely forget it. If a person shows a child something, the child is more likely to remember it. If a person involves a child, however, the child will understand it (Driscoll, 2006).

The third principle is that people learn by working in groups. It tends to be easier for a child to work through something if that child has someone else’s perspective. Different strengths can be brought to the activity because each child has a different point of view and a different thought about what is happening with the activity.

The fourth and final principle is that learning is reflective. Students do better the second time a situation is revealed to them if they get feedback from the first time they encountered the LEARNING THEORIES

situation. If students know they spelled a word wrong on a spelling test, they most likely will not repeat the same mistake (Driscoll, 2006).
Scientists have been studying the way they believe children and students learn. A scientist named John Anderson introduced ACT (Kearsley, 2011). ACT suggests that learning comes from three types of memory. The declarative memory stores information that is factual and what the child associated with that information. The procedural memory reminds children of how they behaved to the conditions or actions that they have stored in the declarative memory. The child’s mind thinks that if something happens, there is something specific to be done because of what happened. The working memory is the memory that the child uses every day.

In this learning theory, children are generalized, making them use the responses in their procedural memory in other events or experiences. The responses are discriminated, to make them more specialized. The responses are later strengthened, to make it easier for the child to recall them. Research shows that facts are retrieved more easily and quickly if the responses are repeated many times (Cooper, 2009).

A scientist known as Charles Reigeluth...
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