Theories of Learning

The process of acquiring knowledge or learning might not be fully structured. It varies according to different learners, different environments, different backgrounds or even different knowledge providers. There could be many theories which are categorized on the basis of various concepts and the variation of the process, but it might not work most of the time. Mostly depending upon the learning theories, forms of instruction are designed. There are three main kinds of theories that exist in learning, which are Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructionism and all of these can be summarized depending on the answers to these five basic questions.

Q.1. How does learning occur?
Q.2. Which factors influence learning?
Q.3. What is the role of memory?
Q.4. How does transfer occur?
Q.5. What types of learning are best explained by the theory?

This table can summarize these theories on the basis of the answers to the above questions.

TheoriesAnswer to Q.1Answer to Q.2Answer to Q.3Answer to Q.4Answer to Q.5
BehaviorismThe key elements are the stimulus, the response, and the association between the twoBoth learner and environmental factors.The use of periodic practice or review serves as the main memory part.The application of learned knowledge in new situations and new forms.Discrimination, Generalization and chaining. Nothing involving depth knowledge.
CognitivismCognitive theories focus on the conceptualization of students’ learning processes and address the issues of how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind.It emphasizes the role that environmental conditions play in facilitating learning.Learning results when information is stored in memory in an organized, meaningful manner.When a learner understands how to apply knowledge in different contexts, then technology transfer has occurredCognitive theories are usually considered more appropriate for explaining complex forms of learning (reasoning, problem-solving, information-processing) than are those of a more behavioral perspective
ConstructionismIt is stemmed from one’s own experience of knowledge or knowing something.It is critical that learning occurs in realistic settings and that the selected learning tasks be relevant to the students’ lived experiences.Clearly, the focus of constructivism is on creating cognitive tools which reflect the wisdom of the culture in which they are used as well as the insights and experiences of individuals.There is very little chance of transfer to take place. It cannot be followed by any set of rules rather it is the experience of how the set of tools is used.constructive learning environments are most effective for the stage of advanced knowledge acquisition, where initial misconceptions and biases acquired during the introductory stage can be discovered, negotiated, and if necessary, modified and/or removed.

The alternative theory: Connectivism
The above three theories, Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism are mostly centred on personal learning only. In this networked world, learning is worth exploring and sharing. We need to bring out the information which we have from personal learning. When experts tried to enact the exploring information idea within these three theories, they needed a completely new theory which is called Connectivism.

In connectivism , knowledge can reside in nonhuman appliances and it keeps changing. The domain of knowledge is vast here. One can instantly gain knowledge in a structured or non-structured way. The main thing to address is the connection right database and in the right context. One needs to select which information to pick and which one to avoid. Though connectivism starts from individual knowledge, it flows through the network and organization. It also consists of knowledge hubs which maintain the data and knowledge flow and foster them as well. Connectivism also focuses on the ability to know more than what we know already.

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