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					Cognitivism and
Last Week: Behaviourism
   The cognitivist revolution
    replaced behaviourism in
    1960s as the dominant
   We recall Chomsky's argument
    that language could not be
    acquired purely through
    conditioning (even though
    radical behaviourists never
    argued that), and must be at
    least partly explained by the
    existence of internal mental

   Cognitivism argues that the “black box” of the
    mind should be opened and understood.
   The learner is viewed as an information
   …or a computer
   Mental processes such as thinking, memory,
    knowing, and problem-solving need to be
   Knowledge can be seen as schema or
    symbolic mental constructions.
   Learning is defined as change in a learner’s
   There is a great deal of ambiguity in the
    education literature as to what constitutes
    Cognitivism, and how it different from
   What follows is my take on things…
   There is a great deal of ambiguity in the
    education literature as to what constitutes
    Cognitivism, and how it different from
   What follows is my take on things…

Proto-Cognitivism   Cognitivism                    Constructivism
Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt Psychology
   Gestalt - "essence or shape of an entity's
    complete form"
   "The whole is greater than the sum of the
    parts" is often used when explaining Gestalt
   They see objects as perceived within an
    environment according to all of their elements
    taken together as a global construct.
Max Wertheimer
   Born April 15, 1880
   Died Oct 12, 1943
   Born in Prague, Czech
   Psychologist
   Father of Gestalt
   In 1910 he bought a toy
   He saw two separate and
    alternating light patterns
   He discovered that if the
    spacing, on-time, and off-
    time were just right for
    these lights, his mind would
    perceive the dual lights as
    one single flashing light
    moving back and forth
Phi phenomenon
   a perceptual illusion in
    which a perception of
    motion is produced by a
    succession of still
   Lead to important
    questions about how
    perception and the
    brain works.
Kurt Koffka
   Born March 18, 1886
   Died Nov 22, 1941
   Born in Berlin,
   Psychologist
   Another of the founders
    of Gestalt psychology
   Learning theorist
Theories on learning
   Koffka believed that most of early learning is what
    he referred to as, "sensorimotor learning," which is a
    type of learning which occurs after a consequence.
    For example, a child who touches a hot stove will
    learn not to touch it again.
   Koffka also believed that a lot of learning occurs by
    imitation, though he argued that it is not important to
    understand how imitation works, but rather to
    acknowledge that it is a natural occurrence.
   According to Koffka, the highest type of learning is
    “ideational learning”, which makes use of language.
Wolfgang Köhler
   Born in Jan 21, 1887
   Died in June 11, 1967
   Born in Reval (now
    Tallinn), Estonia
   Psychologist and
   Another of the founders
    of Gestalt psychology
Problem solving
   In 1913, Köhler went to the
    island of Tenerife in the
    Canary Islands for six years
   Köhler observed the manner in
    which chimpanzees solve
    problems, such as that of
    retrieving bananas when
    positioned out of reach. He
    found that they stacked
    wooden crates to use as
    makeshift ladders, in order to
    retrieve the food.
   If the bananas were placed on
    the ground outside of the cage,
    they used sticks to lengthen
    the reach of their arms.
Problem solving
   Köhler concluded that the
    chimps had not arrived at
    these methods through trial-
    and-error (which American
    psychologist Edward
    Thorndike had claimed to be
    the basis of all animal learning,
    through his law of effect), but
    rather that they had
    experienced an insight (also
    sometimes known as an “aha
    experience”), in which, having
    realized the answer, they then
    proceeded to carry it out in a
    way that was, in Köhler’s
    words, “unwaveringly
      Main principles
of Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt Principles
   Emergence
   Reification
   Multistability
   Invariance
   Prägnanz
Principle of Emergence
Principle of Emergence

   The dog is not recognized by first identifying
    its parts (feet, ears, nose, tail, etc.), and then
    inferring the dog from those component parts.

   Instead, the dog is perceived as a whole, all
    at once.
Principle of Reification
Principle of Reification
   the experienced percept contains more
    explicit spatial information than the sensory
    stimulus on which it is based.
Principle of Multistability
Principle of Multistability
   the tendency of ambiguous perceptual
    experiences to pop back and forth unstably
    between two or more alternative
Principle of Invariance
Principle of Invariance
   the property of perception whereby simple
    geometrical objects are recognized
    independent of rotation, translation, and
    scale; as well as several other variations
    such as elastic deformations, different
    lighting, and different component features.
Principle of Prägnanz
   we tend to order our experience in a manner
    that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and
   This results in other more basic laws
       Law of   Closure
       Law of   Similarity
       Law of   Proximity
       Law of   Continuity
       Law of   Common Fate
Law of Closure
    The mind may experience elements it does not
     perceive through sensation, in order to complete
     a regular figure (that is, to increase regularity).
Law of Similarity
   The mind groups similar elements into
    collective entities or totalities. This similarity
    might depend on relationships of form,
    colour, size, or brightness.
Law of Proximity
    Spatial or temporal proximity of elements may
     induce the mind to perceive a collective or totality.
Law of Symmetry
   Symmetrical images are perceived
    collectively, even in spite of distance.
Law of Continuity
    The mind continues visual, auditory, and kinetic
Law of Common Fate
    Elements with the same moving direction are
     perceived as a collective or unit.
An Investigation of the spatial perception of
time multiplexing during the simulation of
motion of objects
   The project investigated the
    physiology and psychology of
    visual perception, and attempted
    to explain the illusion in those
   The psychology investigation
    centred on Gestalt Psychology
    and how the principles in Gestalt
    psychology co-operate to cause
    the formation of illusory
   I designed an LED Array system
    whose display characteristics
    could be varied in software to
    assist in supporting the
    proposed theory.
   In addition the research appears
    to have found a way of
    measuring the persistence of
    vision of illusory contours for
    very short periods of time.
Kurt Lewin
   Born Sept 9, 1890
   Died Feb 12, 1947
   Born in Mogilno, Poland
   Psychologist
   "founder of social
   Worked closely with the
    Gestalt psychologists
Force field Analysis
   provides a framework for
    looking at the factors
    (forces) that influence a
    situation, originally social
   Lewin believed the "field" to
    be a Gestalt psychological
    environment existing in an
    individual's (or in the
    collective group) mind at a
    certain point in time that can
    be mathematically
    described in a topological
    constellation of constructs.
Action Research
   first coined the term “action
    research” in about 1944. In
    his 1946 paper “Action
    Research and Minority
    Problems” he described
    action research as “a
    comparative research on
    the conditions and effects of
    various forms of social
    action and research leading
    to social action” that uses “a
    spiral of steps, each of
    which is composed of a
    circle of planning, action,
    and fact-finding about the
    result of the action”.
Instructional Design
   Active Learning
       Instruction must be planned with a clear vision of what the students will do
        with the content presented. It is critical that students interact with the
        instructional content and that activities be developed to promote and support
        open-ended, self-directed learning. Content should never be delivered for
        memorization, but instead for use as a tool in planned and sequenced
   A Cohesive Approach
       Lewin wrote that a piecemeal approach to guiding learners to accept new
        ideas, attitudes, and behaviors is ineffective. Instead, a cohesive approach
        must be utilized to support changes in cognition, affect, and behavior.
   Impact of the Social Environment
       Lewin theorized that before changes in ideas, attitudes, and behavior will
        occur, modifications in a learner's perception of self and his/her social
        environment are essential. He also argued that it is easier to create change
        in a social context than individually.
       More work on
Instructional Design
Instructional Design
   Maximise the effectiveness, efficiency and appeal of
    instruction and other learning experiences.
   The process consists of determining the current
    state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal
    of instruction, and creating some "intervention" to
    assist in the transition.
   The outcome of this instruction may be directly
    observable and scientifically measured or
    completely hidden and assumed.
Robert Mills Gagné
   Born in Aug 21, 1916
   Died in April 28, 2002
   Born in in North Andover,
   educational psychologist
   best known for his
    “Conditions of Learning”
   involved in applying
    instructional theory to the
    design of computer based
The Gagné Assumption
   different types of learning exist, and that
    different instructional conditions are most
    likely to bring about these different types of
Five Categories of Learning
   verbal information
   intellectual skills
   cognitive strategies
   motor skills
   attitudes
Eight Types of Learning
1.   Signal Learning - The individual learns to make a general, diffuse
     response to a signal. Such was the classical conditioned response of
2.   Stimulus-Response Learning - The learner acquires a precise
     response to a discriminated stimulus.
3.   Chaining - A chain of two or more stimulus-response connections is
4.   Verbal Association - The learning of chains that are verbal.
5.   Discrimination Learning - The individual learns to make different
     identifying responses to many different stimuli that may resemble each
     other in physical appearance.
6.   Concept Learning - The learner acquires a capability of making a
     common response to a class of stimuli.
7.   Rule Learning - A rule is a chain of two or more concepts.
8.   Problem Solving - A kind of learning that requires the internal events
     usually called thinking.
Nine Events of Instruction
1.   Gain attention - Curiosity motivates students to learn.
2.   Inform learners of objectives - These objectives should form the basis for
3.   Stimulate recall of prior learning - Associating new information with prior
     knowledge can facilitate the learning process.
4.   Present the content - This event of instruction is where the new content is
     actually presented to the learner.
5.   Provide “learning guidance” - use of examples, non-examples, case studies,
     graphical representations, mnemonics, and analogies.
6.   Elicit performance (practice) - Eliciting performance provides an opportunity
     for learners to confirm their correct understanding, and the repetition further
     increases the likelihood of retention.
7.   Provide feedback - guidance and answers provided at this stage are called
     formative feedback.
8.   Assess performance - take a final assessment.
9.   Enhance retention and transfer to the job - Effective education will have a
     "performance" focus.
George Armitage Miller
   Born Feb 3, 1920
   Age 90
   Born in Charleston,
    West Virginia
   Psychologist and
    Cognitive Scientist
   founder of WordNet
   “Miller’s Magic Number”
Information Processing Theory
   TOTE: “Test-Operate-Test-
    an iterative problem solving
    strategy based on feedback
                                        Test     Exit
       test where the system is
       then perform some
        operation that makes a
       then retest again,
       and to repeat this until the   Operate
        answer is satisfactory, at
        which point the process is
        complete and ends (or
Information Processing Theory
   The following is an example
    of a simple TOTE: When
    driving a car and looking for
    the appropriate turn off.
                                            Problem    Test     Exit

       Test - is this the turnoff? - No
       Operate - keep driving
       Test - is this the turnoff? - No
       Operate - keep driving
       Test - is this the turnoff? - Yes
       Exit
Miller’s Magic Number

Miller’s Magic Number
   "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two:
    Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing
    Information" (Miller 1956) is one of the most highly
    cited papers in psychology
   He looked at Memory span - which is a long list of
    items (e.g., digits, letters, words) that a person can
    repeat back immediately after presentation in correct
   Miller observed that memory span of young adults is
    approximately 7 chunks. He noticed that memory
    span is approximately the same for stimuli with
    vastly different amount of information .
Charles M. Reigeluth
   Elaboration Theory
       instruction is made out of
        layers and that each layer of
        instruction elaborates on the
        previously presented ideas. By
        elaborating on the previous
        ideal, it reiterates, thereby
        improving retention
         Present overview of simplest
           and most fundamental ideas
         Add complexity to one aspect
         Review the overview and
           show relationships to the
         Provide additional elaboration
           of details
         Provide additional summary
           and synthesis
Charles M. Reigeluth
        The Eight Steps in Elaboration Theory
    1.     Organizing Course Structure: Single organisation for complete course
    2.     Simple to complex: start with simplest ideas, in the first lesson, and then
           add elaborations in subsequent lessons.
    3.     Within-lesson sequence: general to detailed, simple to complex, abstract
           to concrete.
    4.     Summarizers: content reviews presented in rule-example-practice format
    5.     Synthesizers: Presentation devices that help the learner integrate content
           elements into a meaningful whole and assimilate them into prior knowledge,
           e.g. a concept hierarchy, a procedural flowchart or decision table, or a
           cause-effect model .
    6.     Analogies: relate the content to learners' prior knowledge, use multiple
           analogies, especially with a highly divergent group of learners.
    7.     Cognitive strategies: variety of cues - pictures, diagrams, mnemonics, etc.
           - can trigger cognitive strategies needed for processing of material.
    8.     Learner control: Learners are encouraged to exercise control over both
           content and instructional strategy. Clear labelling and separation of strategy
           components facilitates effective learner control of those components.
Cognitive Constructivism
   Learning is an active process: Direct experience, making
    errors, and looking for solutions are vital for the assimilation and
    accommodation of information. How information is presented is
    important. When information is introduced as an aid to problem
    solving, it functions as a tool rather than an isolated arbitrary fact.
   Learning should be whole, authentic, and "real": Piaget helps
    us to understand that meaning is constructed as children interact
    in meaningful ways with the world around them. Thus, That
    means less emphasis on isolated "skill" exercises that try to
    teach something like long division or end of sentence
    punctuation. Students still learn these things in cognitive
    constructivist classrooms, but they are more likely to learn them if
    they are engaged in meaningful activities (such as operating a
    class "store" or "bank" or writing and editing a class newspaper).
Jerome Seymour Bruner
   Born October 1, 1915
   Age 94
   Born in New York, New
   cognitive psychologist
    and educational
   Scaffolding Theory
   Spiral Curriculum
Theory of Instruction
   Learning is an active process in which learners
    constructs new ideas or concepts based upon their
    current/past knowledge.
   The learner selects and transforms information,
    constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions,
    relying on a cognitive structure to do so.
   Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models)
    provides meaning and organization to experiences
    and allows the individual to "go beyond the
    information given".
Theory of Instruction
   As far as instruction is concerned, the instructor
    should try and encourage students to discover
    principles by themselves.
   The instructor and student should engage in an
    active dialog (i.e., Socratic learning).
   The task of the instructor is to translate information
    to be learned into a format appropriate to the
    learner's current state of understanding.
   Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner
    so that the student continually builds upon what
    they have already learned.
Scaffolding Theory
   He used the term to
    describe young children's
    oral language acquisition.
    Helped by their parents
    when they first start
    learning to speak, young
    children are provided with
    instinctive structures to
    learn a language. Bed-
    time stories and read
    alouds are classic
Spiral Curriculum
   Instead of focusing for
    relatively long periods
    of time on specific
    narrow topics, a spiral
    curriculum tries to
    expose students to a
    wide varies of ideas
    over and over ago.
Jean Piaget
   Born 9 August 1896
   Died 16 Sept 1980
   Born in Neuchâtel,
   Swiss psychologist and
   He laid great
    importance to the
    education of children
Key Ideas
   Schemas – categories of knowledge
   A schema describes both the mental and physical actions
    involved in understanding and knowing. Schemas are categories
    of knowledge that help us to interpret and understand the world.
    In Piaget's view, a schema includes both a category of
    knowledge and the process of obtaining that knowledge. As
    experiences happen, this new information is used to modify, add
    to, or change previously existing schemas. For example, a child
    may have a schema about a type of animal, such as a dog. If the
    child's sole experience has been with small dogs, a child might
    believe that all dogs are small, furry, and have four legs.
    Suppose then that the child encounters a very large dog. The
    child will take in this new information, modifying the previously
    existing schema to include this new information.
Key Ideas
   Assimilation - adding to an existing schema
   The process of taking in new information into our
    previously existing schema’s is known as
    assimilation. The process is somewhat subjective,
    because we tend to modify experience or
    information somewhat to fit in with our pre-existing
    beliefs. In the example above, seeing a dog and
    labeling it "dog" is an example of assimilating the
    animal into the child's dog schema.
Key Ideas
   Accommodation - changing an existing
   Another part of adaptation involves changing
    or altering our existing schemas in light of
    new information, a process known as
    accommodation. Accommodation involves
    altering existing schemas, or ideas, as a
    result of new information or new experiences.
    New schemas may also be developed during
    this process.
Key Ideas
   Equilibration - balancing between assimilation
    and accommodation
   Piaget believed that all children try to strike a
    balance between assimilation and accommodation,
    which is achieved through a mechanism Piaget
    called equilibration. As children progress through the
    stages of cognitive development, it is important to
    maintain a balance between applying previous
    knowledge (assimilation) and changing behaviour to
    account for new knowledge (accommodation).
    Equilibration helps explain how children are able to
    move from one stage of thought into the next.
The four development stages
   Sensorimotor stage: from birth to age 2. Children experience
    the world through movement and senses (use five senses to
    explore the world). During the sensorimotor stage children are
    extremely egocentric, meaning they cannot perceive the world
    from others' viewpoints.
   Preoperational Stage: from ages 2 to 7 (magical thinking
    predominates. Acquisition of motor skills). Egocentrism begins
    strongly and then weakens. Children cannot conserve or use
    logical thinking.
   Concrete operational Stage: from ages 7 to 12 (children begin
    to think logically but are very concrete in their thinking). Children
    can now conceive and think logically but only with practical aids.
    They are no longer egocentric.
   Formal operational Stage: from age 12 onwards (development
    of abstract reasoning). Children develop abstract thought and
    can easily conserve and think logically in their mind.
Other forms of
   humans generate knowledge and meaning from their
   Social Constructivism encourages the learner to arrive at his or
    her version of the truth, influenced by his or her background,
    culture or embedded worldview.
   Historical developments and symbol systems, such as language,
    logic, and mathematical systems, are inherited by the learner as
    a member of a particular culture and these are learned
    throughout the learner's life.
   This also stresses the importance of the nature of the learner's
    social interaction with knowledgeable members of the society.
Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky
   Born Nov 17 1896
   Died June 11, 1934
   Bron in Orsha, in the
    Russian Empire (today
    in Belarus).
   a Soviet psychologist
    and the founder of
Cultural Mediation and Internalization
   Vygotsky investigated child development and how this was
    guided by the role of culture and interpersonal communication.
   He observed how higher mental functions developed historically
    within particular cultural groups, as well as individually through
    social interactions with significant people in a child's life,
    particularly parents, but also other adults.
   Through these interactions, a child came to learn the habits of
    mind of her/his culture, including speech patterns, written
    language, and other symbolic knowledge through which the child
    derives meaning and which affected a child's construction of
    her/his knowledge.
   This key premise of Vygotskian psychology is often referred to as
    cultural mediation.
Psychology of Play
   Vygotsky's also undertook a great deal of
    research on play, or children's games, as a
    psychological phenomenon and its role in the
    child's development. Through play the child
    develops abstract meaning separate from the
    objects in the world, which is a critical feature
    in the development of higher mental
Zone of Proximal Development
   Vygotsky’s term for the range of
    tasks that are too difficult for the
    child to master alone but that can be
    learned with guidance and
    assistance of adults or more-skilled
   The lower limit of ZPD is the level of
    skill reached by the child working
   The upper limit is the level of
    additional responsibility the child
    can accept with the assistance of an
    able instructor.
   Scaffolding is changing the level of
    support. Over the course of a
    teaching session, a more-skilled
    person adjusts the amount of
    guidance to fit the child’s current
John Dewey
   Born Oct 20, 1859
   Died June 1, 1952
   Born in Burlington,
   Philosopher,
    psychologist, and
    educational reformer
   Very influential to
    education and social
The Reflex Arc Concept
   In Dewey's article "The Reflex Arc
    Concept in Psychology" which
    appeared in Psychological Review
    in 1896, he reasons against the
    traditional stimulus-response
    understanding of the reflex arc in
    favor of a "circular" account in which
    what serves as "stimulus" and what
    as "response" depends on how one
    considers the situation.
   While he does not deny the
    existence of stimulus, sensation,
    and response, he disagreed that
    they were separate, juxtaposed
    events happening like links in a
   He developed the idea that there is
    a coordination by which the
    stimulation is enriched by the results
    of previous experiences.
Reflective Thinking
        Reflection as a meaning-making process;
    1.    Moves the learner from one experience to the
          next with deeper understanding of its
          relationships with and connections to other
          experiences and ideas.
    2.    The thread that makes continuity of learning
    3.    It insures the progress of the individual, and,
          ultimately, society.
    4.    It is a means to essentially moral ends.
Experiential Learning Model
On Education
   Dewey was an educational reformer, who emphasized that the
    traditional teaching's concern with delivering knowledge needed
    to be balanced with a much greater concern with the students'
    actual experiences and active learning.
   At the same time, Dewey was alarmed by many of the "child-
    centered" excesses of educational-school pedagogues who
    claimed to be his followers. In How We Think, Dewey wrote;

   “The older type of instruction tended to treat the teacher as a dictatorial ruler. The newer type
    sometimes treats the teacher as a negligible factor, almost as an evil, though a necessary one. In reality,
    the teacher is the intellectual leader of a social group, He is a leader, not in virtue of official position, but
    because of wider and deeper knowledge and matured experience. The supposition that the teacher must
    abdicate its leadership is merely silly.”
Maria Montessori
   Born August 31, 1870
   Died May 6, 1952
   Born in Chiaravalle
    (Ancona), Italy
   Physician, educator,
    philosopher, humanitarian
    and devout Catholic
   best known for her
    philosophy and the
    Montessori method of
    education of children from
    birth to adolescence
Montessori Method
   an educational approach where children are
    given freedom in an environment prepared
    with materials designed for their self-directed
    learning activity.
   The purpose of which is to bring about,
    sustain and support children’s true natural
    way of being ("the child's true normal
The Three-Period Lesson
   Period 1 consists of providing the child with the name of the
    material. In the case of letter sounds, the teacher will have the
    child trace the letter and say, "This is u. This is p." This provides
    the children with the name of what they are learning.
   Period 2 is to help the child recognize the different objects. Most
    of the time with the three-period lesson is in period 2. Some
    things the teacher might say are, "Show me the u. Show me the
    p” or "Point to the u. Point to the p.” After spending some time in
    the second period, the child may move on to period 3.
   Period 3 involves checking to see if the child not only recognizes
    the name of the material, but is able to tell you what it is. The
    teacher will point to the "u" and ask the student, "What is this?" If
    the child replies with, "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu", the child fully
    understands it. With letters, the lesson finally ends with the child
    blending the letters to make a simple word, such as “up.”
Planes of Development
   The natural development of children proceeds through several distinct
    planes of development, each one having its own unique conditions and
    sensitive periods for acquiring basic faculties in the developmental
   The first plane (ages 0-6) involves basic personality formation and
    learning through physical senses. During this plane, children
    experience sensitive periods for acquiring language and developing
    basic mental order.
   The second plane of development (6-12) involves learning through
    abstract reasoning, developing through a sensitivity for imagination and
    social interaction with others.
   The third plane (12-18) is the period of adolescent growth, involving
    the significant biological changes of puberty, moving towards learning a
    valuation of the human personality, especially as related to experiences
    in the surrounding community.
   The fourth plane (18+), involves a completion of all remaining
    development in the process of maturing in adult society.
In America
   After the 1907 establishment of Montessori's first school in
    Rome, by 1917 there was an intense interest in her method in
    America in large part due to the publication of a small booklet
    entitled "The Montessori System Examined" by William Heard
    Kilpatrick - a follower of John Dewey.
   Confusion and conflict about the method's philosophy emerged
    with particular intensity in the modern development of Montessori
    in the United States where, in 1967, the name "Montessori" was
    held to be a "generic term" that no organization could claim for its
    own exclusive use. Since then, the number and diversity of
    Montessori organizations and philosophies have expanded
The End?
   We’ll touch on some of these topics again
    when we look at formal models of
    instructional design, and other topics.