How children learn in my classroom
The aims of this assignment are to demonstrate my understanding of learning theories and reflect on the way that children learn in my classroom in order to develop my own personal theory of learning. I teach English in a cram (tutoring) school which contains about twelve children per class and I also private tutor adults and children in Taiwan. My pupils’ ages range from eight years old to fifteen years old. Mandarin is the major language in Taiwan and English is the foreign language that all pupils have to start learning from third grade (age of nine to ten). Even though children start to learn English from a very young age it’s not used in daily life in Taiwan. It is very important for people to have good English skills in Taiwan. Not only do people recognise English as the international language, but it also helps them to get into a better school and get a better paid job. Therefore, after children finish a regular school day, parents will send them to an English cram school to learn and be exposed to an English speaking environment.
The first section of this paper will introduce behaviourism and Skinner’s operant conditioning which is the positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment of behaviour. I will explain the effect of reinforcement and punishment when applied to pupils.
In the second section, I will reflect upon my classroom practice compared to Skinner’s (1938) operant conditioning learning theory. I will give an explanation of how it works in my classroom and why I use this learning theory. I will discuss the importance of effective behaviour management skills for teachers.
In the third section, I will explain the educational theories of cognitive development, the different perspectives of Piaget’s cognitive constructivism and Vygotsky’s social constructivism theory. I will also explain Vygotsky’s the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO), the Zone of Proximal Development ( ZPD) and scaffolding.
In the fourth section, I will reflect my classroom practice to the learning theory of Vygotsky. I will give examples of how I provide scaffolding in order for my pupils to learn new vocabulary and grammar rules.
Behaviourism is a learning theory which is based on observable behaviour rather than the mind. All behaviour is obtained through conditioning which takes place through interaction with the environment (Skinner, 1990; Watson, 1994). Skinner was one of the major thinkers in behaviourism. He is best known for operant conditioning (Staddon and Cerutti, 2003). Staddon and Cerutti ( ibid ) explain that operant conditioning is behaviour which is controlled through the use of reinforcement schedules to maintain the outcome.
Skinner’s (1938) operant conditioning, as McLeod (2007) explains, has 4 different contexts associated with it. They are positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. To positively reinforce is to provide...