Dtlls Unit 4

Topics: Educational psychology, Learning, Psychology Pages: 6 (1954 words) Published: July 3, 2013
City & Guilds 7305
Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS)
Unit 4: Theories and Principles for Planning and Enabling Learning

The conception of learning, what it is and what it aims to achieve are the underpinning directives for planning and enabling learning as an educator. ‘Is learning the acquisition of knowledge and skills? Social participation in knowledge construction? A natural process of making sense of the world? Reflection on and adaptation to experience?’ (Kerka, S, 2002) Theories and principles of learning cover over 80 potential schools of thought that seek to answer and support arguments for such questions. They can be applied differently to all types of learning and learner group. The four key schools of thought for analysis in adult education in this paper include behaviourist, cognitivist, social and humanist. They each have key theorists to underpin and support their principles.

The behaviourist theory centres on control over learning coming from the environment in a stimulus and response conditioning style. Learning is expressed as observable behaviour by memorising given information and responding accordingly. Its purpose in education is to produce learning in a desired direction with the educator's role being to arrange the environment to elicit desired responses. Behaviourism as a psychological construct was founded by John Watson in 1913 and further developed in a purely educational context by Skinner. Skinners research focuses on continual reinforcement through positive and negative experiences to increase the rate of learning. (Learner Theories Knowledgebase, 2012)

The cognitivist theory suggests that the control of the learning lies with the individual learner and how they process information, rather than being directly fed from the educator. The educator’s role is to structure the basic content of learning activity, with the purpose of education in this theory being to develop capacity and skills to learn better. Key theorists in cognitive development are Piaget and Vygotsky who ‘emphasise the role of active learning in which the learner makes full use of their information-processing capabilities by actively engaging with learning material rather than passively receiving it’. (Jarvis, M, 2005, pg 4)

The Humanist theory focuses on learning from the perspective of the unlimited potential for human growth. Its purpose in education is for learners to become autonomous and the educator’s role is to relinquish a great deal of control and become a facilitator for that autonomous development. This school of thought is associated with theorists like Maslow, whose ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ puts self-actualisation needs at the top of a set of defined human needs for growth and development. (Maslow, A, 1987) The humanist theory sits strongly within the field of adult education as discussed by Cervero and Wilson (1999) when examining characteristics of learner centred education. ‘At the heart of practise is the adult learner...The highest professional and moral principle for adult educators is to involve learners in identifying their needs.’ (pg 29)

The social theory centres on the belief that people learn from observing and interacting with others. Communication has considerable importance and it is the interaction of many factors that result in learning. The social theory is often seen as a bridge between behaviourist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. The educator’s role is to establish communities of practice between learners in which learning can be achieved through conversation, observation, imitation and modelling of others. Albert Bandura is a key theorist in this field who analyses ‘observational’ learning through the perspective that people learn within a social context. (Bandura, A, 1976)

In the planning and delivery of any specialist subject area all learning theories need to be...

Bibliography: Bandura, A. (1976) Social Learning Theory. Upper Saddle River NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc
Cervero, R. M. and Wilson, A. L. (1999) ‘Beyond Learner-Centered Practice: Adult Education, Power, and Society’. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education. Vol.13 No.2: 27-38
Jarvis, M. (2005) The Psychology of Effective Learning and Teaching. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd
Kerka, S. (2002) ‘Teaching Adults: Is It Different?’ Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. No.21
Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2012) ‘Operant Conditioning (Skinner)’ Learning-Theories.com [online]. Available at: http://www.learning-theories.com/operant-conditioning-skinner.html (Retrieved 08 May 2012)
Maslow, A. (1987) Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper
Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2012) ‘Operant Conditioning (Skinner)’ Learning-Theories.com [online]. Available at: http://www.learning-theories.com/operant-conditioning-skinner.html (Retrieved 08 May 2012)
Reece, I. and Walker, S. (1997) Teaching Training and Learning. Tyne and Wear: Business Education Publishers Ltd
Smith, M.K. (1999) ‘Learning theory’ The encyclopedia of informal education [online]. Available at: www.infed.org/biblio/b-learn.htm (Modified 26 June 2004)
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