Application of Learning Theories to Instructional Settings
ETEC 512 involved the examination of theoretical perspectives on knowledge, teaching, and learning including behaviorism, information processing, neuroscience, developmental stages, constructivism, situated learning, adult learning, and several others. Each theory offered insights regarding different facets of education and had different strengths or weaknesses implying situations when any one theory may or may not be appropriate. For example, although behaviorism is largely discarded, it is sometimes useful for behavioral managment in certian age groups.
Linking EdTech + Design Through Synthesis
The application of learning theory in EdTech links up with formal design practice in the synthesis of an approach. No two design or teaching and learning scenarios are the same. One must analyze and examine the learner’s (or user’s) needs before adapting and implementing a theoretical approach.
In design, one moves from research and assessment of constraints to the examination of context, stakeholders, and needs. Perhaps if this adaptive and iterative approach is used more frequently in teaching, it can increase engagement. In design, it is when one settles into a routine that they stagnate and lose their edge.
Embedded in the next tab is a (draft) thought paper or critical examination and response to a question concerning pedagogical theory. The paper demonstrates the synthesis of course materials towards the development of a personal teaching and learning theory. Two additional papers (thought paper 1 and thought paper 2 in my journal entries) contributed to this synthesis.
It was hard to remain objective when reviewing some of the theories presented. As an adult focused educator/designer, I felt a strong emotional response viewing the application of behaviourism in the classroom. Where some K-12 peers felt the teacher had an excellent technique (using praise, reinforcement, repetition, motivation, etc.,), I felt it was overly mechanical. While I understand the utility of this theory for behavioral management, I disagree with the behaviorist notion that seeing, listening to, or replicating the desired behaviour is enough to constitute meaningful learning (Von Glasersfeld, 2008). Behaviourism does not foster an optimum environment for the development of critical thinking skills.
The most significant takeaway was the knowledge that no one learning theory is ever the ‘best’ approach (Edgar, 2012). A blend of theories may be needed depending on the learner and the intended outcomes. As a designer, I’m aware that solutions to ill-defined problems are often context‑, audience‑, and situation-specific. As an educator, the same principles apply. While I find the most value in constructivism and a mastery approach, my personal pedagogical stance is to remain adaptive and continually integrative.
Explain the Von Glasersfeld’s (2008) quote: “knowledge is not a transferable commodity and communication not a conveyance,” in relation to what this means to constructivist teaching.
DRAFT – View full-size in a new window.
Edgar, D.W., 2012. Learning Theories and Historical Events Affecting Instructional Design in Education. Sage Open Journals. October-December 2012 vol. 2 no. 4. Accessed here.
Von Glasersfeld, E. (2008). Learning as constructive activity. AntiMatters, 2(3), 33-49.