Every year, education majors across the U.S. face a barrage of learning theories and models in their education courses. Professors waste no time in introducing them to Pavlov and his dogs, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Maslow’s Hierarchy, Piaget, Skinner, Gagne, Bruner and more (Marsh, McFadden, and Price, n.d.). From the work of these great men come such learning theories as behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, three paradigms that have shaped our current educational system. The next generation of teachers creates countless practice lesson plans based around these theories. Unfortunately, there is a wide divide between the psychology of how humans learn and the constraints of an American classroom. The SUCCEED instructional design model attempts to marry prominent learning theory with the realities of the classroom to create a model that is both fundamentally sound and realistic.
SUCCEED draws primarily on the cognitive and constructivist learning theories. The cognitive learning theory espouses that the human mind is complex in nature and must be the central focus of any learning model. According to Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2010), “Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving need to be explored” in order for educators to best address learning needs. According to this theory, learners are like a computer. New information serves as the input, the brain processes the information, and the output is observable behavior that results from new understanding. It is important to note that behavioral outcomes are not the result of stimuli, but rather the mental processes that take place within the brain. These processes make information meaningful by relating it to prior knowledge, organizing it, and synthesizing it.
In the cognitive theory, the focus is on the learners. Instructors “structur[e], organiz[e] and sequenc[e] information to facilitate optimal processing” (Dabbagh, 2006), but the learners are the ones who create meaning from the information. Learners “are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking” (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2010). The idea that learners are unique individuals that process information in their own way is a cornerstone of the SUCCEED model, which seeks to recognize learner traits and organize information in a way that suits those characteristics.
The constructivist theory shares some similarities with the cognitive theory. It too places the learners at the center of instructional design. “People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences” (“Constructivism as a Paradigm,” 2004). In other words, the process that takes place inside the brain involves relating new information and experiences to previous experiences and attitudes. Either new experiences build upon or change previously held ideas depending on whether the new...