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Human Development, Learning Theories and Conditions of Learning

Use the three theories of learning (Behavioral, Cognitive, and Humanistic) to explain how an instructor could create a plan for three groups of students learning trigonometry in 11th grade math.

For each theory:
A) Explain the concept of the learning theory.
B) What is the instructor's role in the learning process?
C) What is the student's role in the learning process?
D) Provide an example using one of the theories to explain how it could be taught in the classroom.

Solution Preview

Please see attached response for better formatting, charts and hyperlinks; however, the response is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.


Now let's see what type of information and links we can locate to help you fill in the above tentative outline (see attached response).

A. Behavioral learning theory
· The term " learning theory" is often associated with the behaviorial view.
· The focus of the behavioral approach is on how the environment impacts overt behavior.
· Learning is something that is done to the student, who is considered passive in the learning process.
· The learning process is facilitated by the expert, the teacher.
· Thus, the teacher is seen as the expert, imparting to knowledge to a passive learner, e.g., empty slate view of human behavior.
· The teacher also acts as a role model (SLT), and the child imitates the behavior of both the teacher and other students (e.g., the teacher writes a word on the blackboard, and the child imitates the teacher and also writes the word o the piece of paper.

Example: Classical Conditioning

The behavioral learning theory is represented as an S-R paradigm. The organism is treated as a "black box." We only know what is going on inside the box by the organism's overt behavior.


(i) Classical Conditioning Theory - Pavlov 1849-1936

· For example, the school, classroom, teacher, or subject matter is initially neutral stimuli that gain attention.
· Activities at school or in the classroom automatically elicit emotional responses and these activities are associated with the neutral or orienting stimulus (e.g., the classroom elicits an emotional response, such as the kindergarten child crying for the mother when she leaves, or sitting down contentedly, when the bell rings, etc.).
· After repeated presentations, the previously neutral stimulus will elicit the emotional response (e.g., a child has repeated exposure to neutral stimulus, and then responds in a similar way to the teacher, or classroom, for example. Therefore, the teach is believed to be eliciting the behavior as the child is considered an empty slate with behaviors dictated by the environment)
· Rote learning is associated with Behaviorist Theory of Learning
(http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/edpsyppt/Theory/behthr.ppt - see the outline for other behavioral examples below response (for convenience).

From another source:

Conditioning is the term used to designate the types of human behavioral learning. Since the 1920s, conditioning has been the primary focus of behavior research in humans as well as animals. There are four main types of conditioning: (see attached response for hyperlinks)
· Classical Conditioning (stimulus, response)
· Operant Conditioning (stimulus, response, reinforcement).
· Multiple-Response Learning
· Insight Learning http://library.thinkquest.org/C005704/content_hwl_conditioning.php3

From another source:

In essence three key learning assumptions underpin this view:
· Observable behaviour rather than internal thought processes are the focus of study. In particular, learning is manifested by a change in behaviour.
· The environment shapes one's behaviour; what one learns is determined by the elements in the environment, not by the individual learner.
· The principles of contiguity (how close in time two events must be for a bond to be formed) and reinforcement (any means of increasing the likelihood that an event will be repeated) are central to explaining the learning process. (Merriam and Caffarella 1991: 126)

Researchers like Edward L. Thorndike build upon these foundations and, in particular, developed a S-R (stimulus-response) theory of learning. He noted that that responses (or behaviours) were strengthened or weakened by the consequences of behaviour. This notion was refined by Skinner and is perhaps better known as operant conditioning - reinforcing what you want people to do again; ignoring or punish what you want people to stop doing. http://www.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm

(ii) Social-cognitive learning theory (SLT) e.g., children would be imitating the role models behavior)

Overview of the Current SLT Perspective: Currently there exists a subset of theories that are based on social learning principles and place an emphasis on cognitive variables. Whereas strict behaviorism supports a direct and unidirectional pathway between stimulus and response, representing human behavior as a simple reaction to external stimuli, the SLT asserts that there is a mediator (human cognition) between stimulus and response, placing individual control over behavioral responses to stimuli. While there are several versions of the SLT to which researchers currently subscribe, they all share three basic tenets (Woodward, 1982; Jones, 1989; Perry et.al., 1990; Thomas, 1990; Crosbie-Brunett and Lewis, 1993).
The following tenets explain their perceptive on learning:

Tenet 1: Response consequences (such as rewards or punishments) influence the likelihood that a person will perform a particular behavior again in a given situation. Note that this principle is also shared by classical behaviorists. (e.g., if you observe a child receive a reward for a behavior, and then observe them repeat the behavior. This would be an example of response consequences)

Tenet 2: Humans can learn by observing others, in addition to learning by participating in an act personally. Learning by observing others is called vicarious learning. The concept of vicarious learning is not one that would be subscribed to by classical behaviorists (e.g., the child would be observed watching someone behave in a certain way, and then the child will imitate the behavior that the other person was doing, etc.).

Tenet 3: Individuals are most likely to model behavior observed by others they identify with. Identification with others is a function of the degree to which a person is perceived to be similar to one's self, in addition to the degree of emotional attachment that is felt toward an individual. (E.g., meaning that you would observe a child imitate one of her/his peers on TV or in person, or the child would imitate the teacher or peers doing a task, etc.)

Perspectives of Predominant SLT Theorists: These three tenets are represented throughout the work of several prominent SLT theorists, including Rotter, Sears, Mischel, Akers, and Bandura (Source: See more detail on the different theoretical concepts employed by different theorist at http://hsc.usf.edu/~kmbrown/Social_Cognitive_Theory_Overview.htm).

What would be your instructional design based on the Behavioral Theory of Learning e.g.,
stimuli, response, and reinforcement tenets of learning above, be for your weeklong unit on trigonometry identities and equations to an eleventh-grade math class, with the students are divided into three groups of approximately equal number?

Now let's look at Cognitive theories of Learning, and specifically at Piaget's application to the classroom e.g., constructivism.

B. Cognitive Theories of Learning

Example 1: Selective Theories

· Constructivism (e.g., Piaget and Vygotsky) emphasises not merely how individuals receive material to be learned and "construct" it inside their heads, but how they and their teachers construct it between them through their dialogue. Leading on from this, in a sense -
· Kelly's Personal Construct theory eschews the use of the term "learning" altogether, but provides a model of how individuals make sense of the world and how this changes.
· Pask distinguishes between holist and serialist learning strategies, which can relate issues of subject discipline, teacher and student preferences to account for differences in learning/teaching effectiveness.
· Similarly, Hudson distinguishes between convergent and divergent cognitive styles, characteristic of students with different interests and academic careers.
· Bateson disentangles various levels of learning, in which each lower level is contextualised by the one above.
· Festinger's theory of cognitive ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a thorough overview of the specific aspects of three theories of learning: Behavioral Theory of Learning, Cognitive Theory of Learning, and Humanistic Theory of Learning. Theoretical charts, concrete examples, references and links for further research are also provided.