Assignment 2: Essay – Learning modes
Word limit: 2000 (+/- 10%)
This assignment – in-depth study of contemporary learning theories. You will need to outline various views and perspectives on learning, and critically examine each one against current thinking around theories of teaching and learning. As part of this process, you will need to discuss various perspectives on learning and which ones have lost or gained support with the majority of people. Be sure to provide adequate evidence from the literature to support your suggestions and claims.
Descriptive essay title
Describe two different modes of learning, and how they align with contemporary education theories and inform the work of teachers.
This essay requires you to work through a number of stages.
It is helpful to use the following steps to approach the development of the essay:
- Essay introduction. The introduction sets the scene for the background information of your essay. Make sure that you provide a brief overview of the two learning modes and the theories/concepts you will be working with in the essay. Lead the reader through what is being discussed, any specific features of your critique, and your rationale outlining why you have chosen to include certain aspects of the subject material.
- Essay main points:
- Now is the time to think about the learning modes and theories with more depth, and identify the theoretical underpinnings of each one. You may refer to specific theorists, however the focus should be on the theoretical paradigm and how it defines learning.
- Provide examples of the benefits and limitations of each theory. You do not have to have an in-depth understanding of the theory; however, you will be able to articulate some of the concepts and main ideas. Your examples should provide detailed discussions that inform what the theory represents, the key theorists and some concepts that are central to the theoretical body of knowledge.
- It would be helpful to use the two theories as headings and then describe the theories with example(s) from practice.
- Link your discussion to the practice of teaching, providing examples that explain what these are and what they would look like in an education setting. The examples you select to illustrate your theories will therefore align with the underpinnings of your chosen theories and demonstrate how they can be a useful tool for thinking about learning, which may include complex issues like race, class, gender, abilities, families, communities and diversity.
- Use clear headings/subheadings and paragraphs in this essay to add clarity to your writing.
- Essay conclusion. This section is where you make conclusions about the main arguments you have made in your essay, and bring them to a succinct closure. Discuss some of the overall strengths and limitations of using theories in teaching and learning, including reflections from your own learning experiences.
- Researching two theories and describing how they align with learning and teaching, including the limitations and benefits of each theory.
- Descriptions of learning modes describing how they are connected with the two theories.
- Description and practical examples of how the modes of learning and theories can be used in education settings.
- Structure of the essay including introduction, conclusion and discussion that aligns with the main ideas of the essay.
- Logical and coherent structure of essay, English language skills, use of academic literature and consistent use of citing and referencing.
Your work will be assessed using the following marking guide:
If the assignment fails to reach a satisfactory standard on each criterion, then it must be awarded a Fail.
In order to pass this assignment task, the requirements of all criteria must be met at a satisfactory level, and all work must be original unless correctly cited according to APA referencing conventions. Specifically this means:
- The essay includes an introduction that introduces both the topic and content of the essay.
- Paragraphs explore one key idea each.
- The essay includes descriptions of the learning modes and two theories, and the theories align with the types of learning in the descriptions.
- An attempt has been made to draw connections between the theoretical, broader societal and educational context.
- Use of relevant scholarly and non-scholarly literature.
- Correct citation where work is not the author’s original work.
- English language skills are demonstrated through clear discussions developed logically across the essay that are generally free from grammatical and spelling errors. There may be some errors as a result of lack of proofreading however, these errors do not detract from the conveyance of meaning.
Below is what I have already done but needs to be in a good format.
From the time you are born till the time you die; you keep on learning. According to John Anderson, a Canadian psychologist, “something is learning if and only if it is a ‘process by which relatively permanent changes occur in behavioural potential as a result of experience.’” In simple words, learning is everything that gets ingrained into your mind through the various experiences that you have. However, a person can have both positive and negative learning. There is nobody in this world who hasn’t learned something or the other. Although learning is pretty much an involuntary experience, it has to have two things: 1. The presence of a stimulus in the environment and 2. The innate dispositions like emotional and instinctual dispositions. No matter who one is, they keep on learning in all stages of life, under the influence of emotional and instinctual dispositions by constructing or reconstructing experiences.
While John B Watson is one amongst the first thinkers who said that behaviours change due to learning, Gales, a popular psychologist defined learning as the “behavioural modification which occurs as a result of experience as well as training.” Discovered completely by accident, the classical conditioning theory by Ivan Pavlov is also one such theory on learning that goes to show how behaviour contributes to learning.
In the 1980s, Ivan Pavlov decided to research more about the salivation in dogs as their response to being fed. Although he predicted that the dogs would salivate when they saw their food, what happened unexpectedly was the dogs salivating when they heard Pavlov’s assistants coming with the food. After this ‘lucky accident’, Pavlov figured out that any response or incident that the dogs ended up associating with food, they’ll automatically start salivating. After this, he devoted his entire life to learning more about this type of ‘learning’. Known as classical conditioning, this was further developed by Watson in 1913. One of the earliest theories of learning involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response.
Through this essay, we will be talking about two different modes of learning, behaviourism, and psychodynamic theory. Through the theory of behaviourism, we can understand what behaviours actually influence a child’s learning, how this can be assessed to know more about their learning capabilities, and of course, how these children apply practical procedures to learn more and live better. Psychodynamic theory solely puts its faith in fears, anxieties, and desires to help a person learn better. The idea here is that childhood experiences and learning influence who you become as an adult and how you live your life.
The Behaviorism Theory
Before going into what behaviorism is, we have to understand the several reinforcement theories that actually talk about the levels of maturity in children’s development, how their behaviors are shaped by the environment conditions, and shape reinforcement. A reinforcement theory suggests that an individual will choose from many given responses to a given stimulus, based on the positive outcomes they have already noticed from choosing a particular response. This theory or idea was first articulated by E.L. Thorndike in 1911. Apart from Thorndike, B.F. Skinner is also a key contributor to the development of modern ideas about reinforcement theory. When you look at the same thing from a behaviorist perspective, both growth and development are two things that become a result of connections established between stimulus input and a variety of behavioral responses that stem from different things like food, drink, praise, a smile, or sometimes a new toy. As adults, you would be providing these things to a child. If we pay close attention to the key concepts of behaviorism, it is nothing but the stimulus-response equation, the classical and operant conditioning as mentioned before, and the reinforcement and punishment notions. Watson, in 1913, took forward Pavlov’s classical conditioning, and applied it to humans. According to him, humans learn specific behaviors from the environment throAugh a process of conditioning. Just like all the theorists that have been spoken about in this essay before, the key theorists that have contributed the most to behaviorism is Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, E.L. Thorndike, and Watson.
The Relationship between Teaching and Behaviorism
While using behavior theory in teaching, one can provide their students with proper and adequate responses for behaviors that the students would have learnt by simply looking or observing another person. If a teacher wants to change a particular behavior of their student, he or she can employ the help of some practical procedures that can be used to remodel their unwanted behavior with the help of methods like reinforcement, modelling, and manipulation of situational cues. The teacher can also make decisions on when it is appropriate to use consequences, reinforcements, rewards, or punishments based on the child’s performance or behavior.
Behavioral theories do tend to provide well-informed explanations for some types of learning while completely baseless explanations for some complex forms of learning. While operant conditioning, which is a form of behavior theory, will help you understand better why rote acquisition of things like time tables, nursery rhymes, the learning of physical and mental behaviors, and the guiding of children’s behaviors. In these cases, the focus is more on developing a person’s behavior rather than developing their cognitive structure.
Although most of the people who know about Pavlov’s classical conditioning say that it is irrelevant to humans, this theory in fact helps us know how and why a person might react emotionally to a particular situation. It was John Watson who proposed that the process of classical conditioning would be able to analyse and help us understand all aspects of human learning. Through classical conditioning, the emotions acquired by a person are: racism shown towards a particular group, being afraid of something, and of course, being influenced by another person’s behavior. However, having achieved all this, the theory of classical conditioning is still very poor in helping us figure out how a person understands some complex ideas and strategies.
When put into practice, the theory of behaviorism can be used by teachers for reinforcing their students positively, negatively, and for punishing them as well. As far as positive reinforcements go, children studying from grades 1-7 are usually rewarded with a gold star or some small gift when they do something good like do their homework, eat their snacks, help a friend out, etc. Another form of positive reinforcement can be encouraging the students to continue doing something when they engage in good behavior or even letting their parents know that their child is indulging in good behavior. Negative reinforcement includes writing a letter to a child’s parent when he or she does something bad, a teacher who ensures that all his or her students have to do some homework only if they don’t perform well on an in-class test, etc. Negative reinforcements are usually done in order for a person to continue doing a behavior so that they avoid negative consequences that may arise if they do not behave in a certain way. Punishments are not about changing a bad behavior, but about making the person eliminate it. In a school, a child can be given detention or extra work if they continue to not do the work given to them. Sometimes, if a teacher wants a child to break out of a bad habit, they advise the child to either wear a rubber band around their wrist and flick it every time they do the habit or associate something negative with the habit so that they don’t practice it again.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Behaviorism
A major strength that the behaviorism perspectives possess is the fact that all the theories that come under this branch are clinically tested which means that they can be defined as theories. This implies the fact that if a psychologist or somebody else tries to test out any behavior theories on a person, then it is bound to work as it has been classified as a theory.
However, the theory’s strength is also the theory’s weakness as well. The fact that the theory has been tested under scientific conditions goes a long way to show one that life does not happen inside a laboratory. Yet another weakness can be seen when we realize that following the methods of rewards and punishment might not help a child develop intrinsic motivations of learning. For example, a child that is only raised on the basis of rewards and punishments will always want to get rewarded when they do something good. And finally, many psychologists have criticised the perspective on the grounds that it does not take into consideration the biological influences a person has in their life, which makes the theory too simplistic. This simply means that even though a person might have been rewarded for good behavior all through his life, he or she might not have been punished because of their parent’s upbringing.
The Psychodynamic Theory
Psychoanalytic theory is a collective term for the perspectives that focus on the psyche and unconscious principles (Beck, 2012). Sigmund Freud, the main psychologist behind this theory developed this in order for people to understand who they are and the development of their ‘self’. From the 1920s to the 1940s, this theory was used as the theoretical analysis for understanding behavioral analysis better. Most of the behavioral problems that were shown by children were understood as unresolved emotional conflicts that have risen from the parents, mostly the mother. The psychodynamic approach is driven by some assumptions such as the unconscious influence behavior and emotions, a person’s id, ego, and superego make up their personality, and the major assumption that various conflicts that one faces throughout their childhood shape one’s overall personality.
When Erickson introduced the psychosocial theory, it placed importance on the ego in a child’s development, but with more emphasis on the social aspects of learning. This perspective takes Freud’s theory more holistically where the child’s mind, body, physical and emotional worlds form an integrated system that leads to more development and growth. As mentioned before, this is a holistic approach that is aligned with humanist and child-centred approaches that manage to acknowledge the subjective and affective side of learning, and the importance of guiding children to form their own identity and personality.
The Relationship between the Psychodynamic Theory and Teaching
Psychodynamic perspectives cover some unconscious thoughts and behaviors that are shaped in your childhood. This can be biting your nails incessantly, washing your hands often, etc. The basis of the psychodynamic theory is nothing but to get ‘into the heads’ of a person or into their minds. Through this, one can get an idea about how a person views their relationships, experiences, and the world, and how that in turn affects their preferences, behaviors, and drives.
While incorporating a psychodynamic perspective into a classroom, you will be able to see that this helps children understand each other’s personal differences and how you will have to support their growing sense of self. If there is a troubled child in your classroom, having a psychodynamic perspective will aid you to consciously and actively draw out that child’s thoughts and feelings which in turn can be used to help them understand the consequences of theirs or somebody else’s actions. By instilling good thoughts and behaviors in children with the help of this perspective, it also helps children to be self-reflective and responsible for their actions.
Some examples of psychodynamic theory being used in teaching are: Constantly not doing homework at school can lead back to some trouble at home. A child that irritates other students and constantly gets scolded by teachers might just be seeking attention as he or she might not be receiving it at home. A student that obsessively bites his or her nails even after being advised not to could be due to an anxiety-inducing childhood event. If we draw back references from day-to-day behaviors to the psychodynamic perspective, we’ll be able to find many more instances like these.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Psychodynamic Perspective
One of the main challenges that this perspective had to fight with was the fact that the blame of a child’s behavior was always put on his or parents, or more specifically, the mother. However, recent theoretical shifts have changed this from a ‘blame the parent’ model to models that are more bidirectional, transactional, and interactional. Out of the various psychodynamic theories, the Play theory still remains one of the most sought after theories for intervention and accompanies therapy for the child’s parents. The psychodynamic models still have an effect on education and intervention for children with additional needs.
Through this essay, we have tried to bring to light two important theories of learning, behaviorism, and psychodynamic perspectives. While they both look like they belong to different spectrums of the same wheel, they manage to ring in the same findings anybody would want. Behaviorism tells us about how reinforcements, both positive and negative, can be used for getting children to follow the desired behavior. It also uses the techniques of guidance, feedback, and rewards to reinforce the key points of learning and the process of learning. Moving on to the psychodynamic perspective, it guides one to understand the id, ego, and the superego, and how it influences a child’s process of learning.
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