Unit 4 Theories and Principles for Planning and Enabling Learning

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Unit 4 Theories and principles for planning and enabling learning

Introduction
There are four main schools of thought around the concept of teaching and learning. This assignment aims to discuss what those schools are, how each of them are relevant to a teaching approach and how some of those theories relate to my own working practice. Identify and discuss the significance of relevant theories and principles of learning and communication The four schools which impact on learning are

Behaviourist
The premise behind this theory is that learning occurs because of an external stimulus. The teacher will impact on learning significantly and therefore learning will be a passive process. Skinner (1904 – 1990) used a ‘skinner box’ to show that animals would repeat an action when rewarded either through positive or negative reinforcement. In the learning environment examples of this theory are when a learner is successful they may gain a certificate, verbal praise, longer break (positive reinforcement) or achieving a high grade allowing them to miss out additional pieces of coursework.(negative reinforcement) E.L Thorndike (1874 – 1949) played a crucial role in determining key laws to learning from a behaviourist perspective. He argued that learning was a gradual process and certain conditions would encourage learning. These were: a) The law of effect – learners are more likely to continue with a behaviour /learning if there is some sort of reward. Most commonly in the learning environment, a teacher will give verbal praise for success and positive efforts. b) The law of recency – the most recent learning is most likely to be remembered and where a task has been completed and rewarded soon after will have most impact on a learner. A good example is in DTLLS, assignments and journals are read and feedback given very soon after it has been submitted. It helps learners to know that they have been successful and achieved. c) The law of exercise – The more a task is completed the quicker it is achieved. The more a subject is visited the more likely it will be remembered. In a learning environment, teachers will use introductions, summaries, recaps and assignments to help reinforce new information until it is remembered. In terms of promoting an inclusive learning environment behaviourist methods might be formulating compacts of expected behaviours between the teacher and the learner. Another example would be not enforcing punishment on negative behaviours. Quite often difficult behaviours can manifest themselves as a way of seeking attention. If a learner is repeatedly rewarded for turning up on time, handing in an assignment before the deadline and the more disruptive behaviours ignored, then they will learn that to gain attention, positive behaviours will cause that to happen. (www.projects.coe.uga.edu/) Cognitivist

This is the approach which supports the concept that learners have a process of thought and are involved in that thought process as we learn, therefore can shape the way and level to which we comprehend new material. In order to gain meaning in what is being learnt a learner has to interpret that information and make sense of it. Bloom (1956) recognised that learning occurs on many different levels and each level of learning has to be mastered before moving to the next level. He identified 3 different domains being cognitive (thinking), affective (feeling) and psychomotor (doing). Within those 3 domains there are 6 levels of learning development. Starting from the bottom, with the easiest level, to the top, which is the most complex level of learning and achieving a form of ‘mastery in a subject’. When looking at Blooms 3 dimensional pyramid, I would argue that the behaviourist schools of thought would only promote lower level learning purely because there is no encouragement to think outside of the box and have free reign to test out hypotheses and ideas. Bloom taxonomy of learning has played...
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