This article focuses on some of the most significant advances from learning theory that have an influence on how adults learn. The authors explore four aspects that impact learning after providing an outline of two key learning theories—behavioral and cognitive models. Attention, perception, memory, contiguity, and practice are examples of these. They also discuss how these components affect learning across the life span.
Learning theory examines how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during their learning experiences. Cognitive theory advocates feel that the notion of learning as a change in behavior is overly restrictive, and they investigate the learner rather than their environment—particularly the complexity of human memory. Motivation theory focuses on why some individuals learn more effectively than others; stimulus-response theory explains learning as a reaction to specific cues. Social theory explains that we are shaped by our interactions with others.
The term "learning theory" was first used by American educational psychologist John B. Watson in his book Behaviorism (1911). He argued that all learning is conditioned behavior that comes about through environmental stimulation of the nervous system. Watson believed that if this conditioning is done properly, it could be used to help an individual who was suffering from a psychological disorder. This idea has been widely adopted by educators throughout the world.
In modern terminology, learning theories can be divided into three main categories: behavioral, cognitive, and motivational. Behavioral theories focus on the relationship between what people do and what they learn. They believe that learning occurs when someone acts or behaves in a certain way and that her or she will remember this behavior because it made a difference in something she wanted or needed.
Cognitive learning theory discusses how internal and external elements impact a person's mental processes in order to augment learning. When cognitive processes do not function consistently, learning delays and challenges occur. Cognitive learning theory is now the mainstream theory in psychology. It focuses on how people think about what they learn in order to retain it long-term.
Cognitive learning theories can be divided into two main categories: procedural and conceptual. Procedural theories focus on the study process itself, while conceptual theories emphasize the knowledge being learned. The two most well-known procedural theories are Borkowski's multiple trial procedure and Miller's retrieval-based model. Conceptual theories include those developed by Broadbent and Jenkins-Shierling.
Multiple trials: In this type of learning theory, it is assumed that information is better retained if it is repeated over time. This idea is based on the fact that humans are limited in their ability to remember information accurately or completely at one time. Therefore, it is recommended that you repeat material you want to remember for future use.
Retrieval-based models: These theories state that memory traces or cues are activated when you need them during testing, thus enabling you to retrieve information from long-term storage. The two most famous retrieval-based theories are Miller's semantic network theory and Jacobson's episodic buffer theory.
Learning theories emphasize how we react to events or stimuli rather than what underlies our behavior. These ideas explain how experience might alter what we are capable of accomplishing or feeling. The three main learning theories are behaviorism, cognitive psychology, and evolutionary psychology.
In behaviorism, behaviors that lead to rewards get reinforced while those that don't get extinguished. This means that behavioral changes can be accomplished by manipulating consequences. For example, if you want someone not to scratch an itchy skin condition, you could give them a drug that will prevent them from scratching off their old skin and replacing it with new smooth skin. However, this would be a very crude form of treatment that has been replaced in today's world by vaccines that work by triggering antibodies in patients that attack the viruses that cause illness.
Cognitive psychologists believe that learning occurs when there is a change in behavior caused by the interaction between mind and environment. They also consider practice to be important in learning because it allows us to improve performance over time. Cognitive psychologists include such thinkers as John Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward Thorndike.
Evolutionary psychologists study how individuals or populations adapt their behaviors to suit their environments. They look at what traits previous generations had to survive in order to find ways to combat these challenges.
Recently, the craze has pushed psychological theories of learning, particularly constructivist approaches within them, to the forefront. The theories described are based on developmental psychology, didactics, and psychology. They all have much to offer regarding how people learn and what should be done to improve education.
Constructivism is a popular theory that says learning is an active process where students build their knowledge by exploring the world around them and analyzing their experiences. This theory was originally proposed by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky back in 1934. He suggested that social interactions are essential for learning; thus, teachers need to provide opportunities for students to explore topics together or individually.
Vygotsky's ideas have been further developed by many others, including David Kolb, who presented an influential model in his book Experiential Learning. Kolb said that learning occurs when an individual interacts with his or her environment in meaningful ways that produce changes inside him or her. These changes then become tools for future learning.
Kolb's model has three components: experience, reflection, and reflection. Students must undergo actual experiences to learn anything new. The more intense these experiences are, the more likely it is that they will be remembered and applied later on.
Cognitive approaches to learning are concerned with how learners process information. According to cognitive theories, pupils participate in "an internal learning process including memory, reasoning, reflection, abstraction, motivation, and meta-cognition" (Ally, 2008). Pupils who have good understanding of this process can more effectively use their skills and knowledge.
Cognitive approaches include: passive learning, active learning, discovery learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and case-based learning. These are all terms used to describe different ways that people learn. Passive learning means receiving information without reacting to it. For example, someone might listen to music while reading a book - the words will be absorbed into memory without being analyzed or interpreted. Active learning involves thinking about what you want to learn and then searching for sources that will help you understand it better. This includes doing research on your own or by looking at books or websites provided by your teacher or tutor. Discovery learning means exploring a topic by finding out interesting facts about it. This could be as simple as asking questions such as "what else is related to this subject?" or "who else has studied this area?". Problem-based learning uses real-life problems to study topics from science to history. You would work with others in your class to find solutions, then write up reports on your findings.