Running Head: CHOOSING A THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE
Choosing a Theoretical Perspective
Maria A. Pieffer
Grand Canyon University
EED 475 – Curriculum, Methods and Assessment: Literacy and Language Arts 4-8 January 13, 2014
Professor Kristen Thornton
Choosing a Theoretical Perspective
There have been many different opinions as to how children best acquire literacy skills. Due to the governmental push and various agencies’ involvement, research involving literacy techniques and strategies have been in high demand. Over the years, there have been different theories and perspectives proposed. The intent of this article is to first define the differing theoretical perspectives that have been proposed and to help educators and others interested in helping students acquire literacy skills find the most effective techniques and strategies for their students.
One theory is the cognitive theory. “Cognitivists believe that literacy is largely taught and learned” (Davidson, 2000). “Street (1984) referred to the cognitive perspective as ‘autonomous’ (p.2) because it implies that literacy consists of technical skills that are learned independently from social or cultural influences, and that literacy learning is neutral and apolitical” (Davidson, 2000). The cognitive theory is based upon milestones; cognitivists believe children should be able to acquire and grasp various skills according to their ages. All children are taught in a sequential manner regardless of special needs or English Language Learners (ELLS). If a child is not on target according to the stage in which he or she should fall into, they are identified as “deficient in their literacy skills” (Davidson, 2000). (Davidson, 2000).
The sociocultural theory is a theory that believes that all learning and child development is attributed to social and cultural experiences. People learn and develop when they are around family, community, and society. Each person is an individual and their social and cultural experiences directly correlate to who they are, what they know, and how they perceive the world. From a sociocultural standpoint, it is believed that “skills, strategies, and understandings are appropriated, not transmitted, and that literacy practice replaces literacy skill” (Davidson, 2000). They believe that most daily activities require personal interaction and literacy, and that literacy occurs both inside and outside of classrooms. (Davidson, 2000).
The behaviorism theory believes that behavior can be changed via stimuli. Behaviorists believe that learning develops through changes in behavior not via and internal thought process. They believe that environmental stimuli leads to changes in behavior, and thus, in learning; however, they do not believe it is due to the learner. Behaviorists also believe that learning and behavior coincide with how closely together two events occur in order for a bond to take place, and that reinforcement, whether positive or negative, leads to what the learner learns. With behaviorism, teachers provide direct instruction, whereas, learning is solely teacher directed. (Traditional Learning Theories, 2007).
The people who favor the cognitive or information processing theory look at the whole instead of breaking incidents or patterns into parts. They believe that a person’s brain or the part of the brain that relates to memory is an “active organized processor of information and that prior knowledge plays an important role in learning” (Traditional Learning Theories, 2007). In order for someone to learn, they must think about the problem, ponder on the problem and come to a conclusion or way to solve the problem. They believe that information is reorganized inside the brain in a way that the learner is able to understand the information. Learning is directly related to the learner and not on the environment. (Traditional Learning Theories, 2007).
Balanced Literacy is another theory. Originally, it was to consist...
References: Davidson, K. (2010). The integration of cognitive and sociocultural theories of literacy development: Why? How?. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 56(3), 246-256.
Frey, B. B., Lee, S. W., Tollefson, N., Pass, L., & Massengill, D. (2005). Balanced literacy in an urban school district. Journal of Educational Research, 98(5), 272-280.
Street, B. V. (1999). Literacy in theory and practice. London, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Traditional Learning Theories (2007). In learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. Retrieved from: http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/wileyla/traditional_learning_theories
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