Theories And Practice Essay

2149 words - 9 pages

Education in the United States has a long history and many changes in theories and practice. The theories allow practitioners to gain insights and perspectives in both teaching and learning. While there are several perspectives, many of the theories in education have evolved from those that initiated in the field of psychology. There are three major perspectives that seem to root many of the practices in curriculum and teaching: Behaviorist, Cognitivist, and Constructivist. In addition, theories can be descriptive (learning theories) or prescriptive (instructional theories). Theories provide the practitioners certain guidelines to help them be more productive and ...view middle of the document...

Therefore, learning becomes a conditioning activity. There are two types of conditioning: classic and operant conditioning. The classic conditioning is related to the natural responses to a specific stimulus. Classic conditioning is almost a natural reflex that an individual may display such as a school phobia or a fear of public speaking. On the other hand, operant conditioning is a response to the reinforced stimulus. In this type of conditioning the learner is more likely to repeat a behavior if there was a reward given for reinforcement but will discontinue another behavior when followed by punishment. Therefore, from an instructional standpoint, the theories that are based on behaviorism are ideal for routine or mechanical instruction such as routines used for classroom management.
However, from the behaviorist standpoint, language acquisition as a thinking, reasoning process would be negated (Maftoon, P. & Sarem, S., 2012). While some of the acquisition would require imitation and reinforcement, which is within the realm of behaviorism, the full process is much more complex requiring cognitive awareness, creativity and intellect. Yet, some aspects of language development may function well with a behaviorist approach particularly those areas that require drill and practice, such as basic vocabulary and pronunciation.
Unlike behaviorism, cognitivisim is interested in the brain. Noam Chomsky is known for his contributions to this school of thought. The cognitivist theories focus on how information is received, processed, organized, stored and retrieved in the brain. Because it focuses on the processes of the brain, these theories are essential in instructional design. Instruction designed under this premise requires having a notion of the whole before breaking it down to its parts. In addition, instruction is usually organized in short segments followed by review since there is a strong belief that this method aids students in retaining more information.
Language acquisition form a cognitivist approach relates the ability to learn language with the individuals’ intelligence. In other words, the individual with greater intelligence would acquire language faster and better (Maftoon, P. & Sarem, S., 2012). There are several theories of language acquisition that can be classified under this general area. Some of the most common ones include input processing, interactionist, and skill acquisition (CHAPELLE, C. A.,2009).
One of the greatest challenges in understanding language acquisition in respect to brain processes is the understanding of how the brain changes when leaning a language. This is where theorist seem to come to disagreements. Theorist like Gardner, whose theory of multiple intelligences indicate that individuals have up to eight intelligences and every individual will develop and use a combination of these intelligences depending on the task at hand and the individuals’ strengths. Considering his...

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