Theories and Principles for Planning

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.

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 a significant part in planning and enabling learning.

The application of his theory helps teachers take an inclusive approach by being able to differentiate tasks to suit the learners’ abilities at that current time. It also means that whilst different levels of tasks are being set, all learners can grow at their own rate and feel fully valued in the process. We might be setting different learning goals with learners based on their current level of learning but with a view to helping them to grow towards the next level of learning in Blooms model. Therefore, Teachers should be focused on promoting a growth from surface learning or learning without understanding (Petty, G.

Pg 11. 2004) to deep understanding where the learner is able to critically evaluate and dissect their own ideas and findings from their learning. Gestalt theory is another important piece of theory that sits under the cognitivism framework. In particular the work of Max Wertheimer (1922) shaped the theory in learning. Gestalt means “whole” or “shape or pattern” (www. learningandteaching. info/). In contrast to Thorndike’s earlier concept that learning requires no insight, the Gestalt angle emphasises the importance of insight in learning. According to J.

Atherton ‘it concentrates on the way in which the mind insists on finding patterns in things, and how this contributes to learning, especially the development of “insight”. ’ (www. learningandteaching. info/) According to gestalt theory, the brain will eventually see a pattern in what a learner is studying and make sense of it before the learner fully understands what it is they really understand the concept in a stage by stage process… Once they have the ‘knack’, that learning becomes permanent. Within the learning environment, when many learners are trying to learn new skills, they can experience frustration and anxiety.

It is the job of the teacher to keep motivating and encouraging them to continue until they get the knack. Such an example might be a learner driver learning to pull off without stalling. It’s useful to consider the Gestalt approach when planning lessons because if the teacher has a structured and repeated method of doing things, the learners will recognise the pattern and find it easier to complete exercises and learn from those exercises. Constructivism in learning Constructivism sits under the umbrella of cognitivism.