In this essay, I will identify the main tenets of Behaviourism, Cognitive and Humanist and state how each claims learning happens. I will analyse two principles and how they affect the way we plan and deliver learning. Furthermore, I will reflect on the impact of these insights on my own practice and professional development.
Behaviourism main theorist included Skinner, Pavlov and Thorndike who describes this theory as having a ‘stimulus and response’. Petty states, ‘learners are motivated by expected reward of some kind (such as praise or satisfied curiosity); learning will not take place without it’ (Petty, 2009:15-16). In addition, there should be immediate reinforcement otherwise this will cause a delay in learning. Another principle of behaviourism is the learning should be step by step and not all at once and by doing so the learner has successions of successes which increase their motivation that leads ‘to more complex behaviour’. Petty also states that ‘effective teachers stress key points and summarise them at the beginning and at the end of the class and, makes use of old learning in developing new learning’ (Petty, 2009:16).
Reece & Walker states the behaviourism is teacher centred and relies upon the expectation of the provision of a stimulus to produce a response however, ‘students are often seen as passive’. Therefore, without a stimulus there would be no response and is only visible externally. The teacher provides the stimulus for a response to occur, resulting in a change of behaviour that can be measured.
Skinner argues that ‘learning is accelerated by reinforcement: a stimulus that increases the probability of a response’ called ‘operant conditioning’ and it is not reliant on what triggered the response but what ‘immediately followed the response’ (Minton, 2005: 301). Whereas, Pavlov states that ‘learning is by association’ and is known as ‘classic conditioning’. However, Thorndike suggests that the response is a result of ‘pleasant consequences’ which are repeated know as ‘trial and error’ ‘law of effect’ (Scales, 2008: 59).
Piaget, Bruner, Ausebel and Vygosky are main contributors of the Cognitive theory. The main principle of Cognitivism is that learning takes place on the building of previous experience and the learning is focused on how we understand. There is a requirement of some foundation for the understanding of new learning and how information is processed in the brain. This theory formulates a process of attaching new learning to past experience to be able to understand future learning. One of the principles of Cognitive learning is that learning is by ‘doing’ and asking students challenging questions…’ By doing so, the learners make their own sense of what they are studying and enable them to make use of their learning in real life’ (Petty, 2009: 4). ‘From the cognitive viewpoint, how new information is presented is important. In the first, or cognitive phase of learning, the learner learns the overall...