A Relatively Permanent Change In An Individuals Knowledge Education Essay

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Learning can be visual, kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical, naturalistic, spiritual and moral, and, consequentially, learners have very differing levels of intelligence in these different kinds of learning. It is intrinsically important for teachers to have a working knowledge of how different students learn because of this fact that not all students learn in the same way. An educators job is to facilitate learning for a student, and therefore must be adaptable to these various learning styles in order to adequately provide for them, and this cannot be done without an understanding of different learning theories and styles. A student who is kinaesthetic or visually intelligent is not going to benefit from certain styles of teaching as much as a student who is a logical learner, assuming the educator is only teaching in a logical style. Therefore it is necessary for educators to understand the differing kinds of learning so that they can cater for multiple intelligences within their lessons, both by acknowledging their existence and allowing students the opportunity to learn in different ways as well as developing students abilities to interact with intelligences that they might otherwise be not as accustomed to.

As well as different intelligences there are different worldviews on how learning occurs, whether it is passive or active, whether it is social or personal, and these theories directly affect the pedagogy embraced by the teacher holding them. Therefore the learning theories will necessarily dictate the types of intelligences most supported by the learning that is taking place, and it is up to the educator to understand these learning theories so that they may utilise them in a way to best explore all of the multiple intelligences and give their students the best chance of reaching a higher order understanding of any subject matter.

Behaviourism is a theory that operates upon an 'action-reaction' or 'stimulus-response' conception of learning. At its essence this worldview places the learner in the position of being a 'blank slate', an empty vessel or 'tabula rasa', which is then filled with the desired knowledge or learning. Behaviourism assumes that the learner is passive and that they respond to any and all environmental stimuli that they are exposed to. The environment acts on the learner, not the learner on the environment.

Behaviourism can be broken down into two possible forms of conditioning: classical conditioning and operant conditioning, the late of which was founded by B. F. Skinner and is one of the most prominent learning theory positions. Skinner's operant conditioning view is non-dualistic, it denies that the mind is a separate thing to the body, instead positing thoughts to be private behaviours, analysable in the same way that public behaviours are. Essentially learners learn to 'operate' on the environment.

Functionally, operant conditioning works on a basis of reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement is a process by which a targeted behaviour is caused to occur with greater frequency and punishment a lesser frequency. Both these consequences have positive and negative variations, by positive and negative we refer to their additive or subtractive qualities, not their moral implications. Positive reinforcement is when a rewarding stimulus is to occur following a desirable behaviour, thus increasing its frequency. Negative reinforcement occurs when an undesirable stimulus is removed after a desirable behaviour, also increasing its frequency. Positive punishment is the occurrence of a punishment or negative stimulus following an undesirable behaviour, decreasing its likeliness, while negative punishment is the removal of a positive or rewarding stimulus following a undesired behaviour, also decreasing the chance of reoccurrence.

In contrast to behaviourism, constructivism views the learner as an active participant in the learning process. The learner is an "information constructor" [3] , one of the basic assumptions behind constructivism is that "people are active learners and must construct knowledge for themselves." [4] This base assumption is that the learner is a "unique individual with unique needs and backgrounds." [5] 

Learning is a constructive, contextualized and active process by which the learner is engaged in actively creating a subjective interpretation of an otherwise objective reality. One of the key differences between constructivism and behaviourism is that the learner is seen as bringing past experience and knowledge to the learning, and that it is this past experience that is the defining factor in the shaping and constructing of new knowledge. This concept at work posits that people generate their grasp on knowledge through an interaction between their ideas and experiences. Furthermore the learner acts upon the environment, interacting with it to create meaning, rather then being acted upon.

Constructivism, however, is not a unified theory. Under the banner of constructivism subsists three main perspectives dubbed the exogenous perspective, the endogenous perspective and the dialectical perspective. An exogenous constructivism "view posits a strong influence of the external world on knowledge construction, such as by experiences, teaching, and exposure to models. Knowledge is accurate to the extent it reflects that reality." [6] On the other hand, endogenous constructivism states that knowledge is derived from earlier mental structures and focuses on a coordination of "cognitive actions" [7] , while dialectical constructivism is a blend of the two, positing that knowledge is not entirely construed from the external world, nor is it solely of the mind but rather is the result of interactions between the learner and the environment.

- Schunk, Dale H. (2008) Constructivist Theory (Chapter 6). In Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. 5th Edition. (pp.234-277). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780132435659 pg 239

A behaviourist classroom positions the learner in a passive role, as before mentioned, they are 'tabula rasa' [8] . As a result the educator is positioned in an active role, essentially 'acting' on the learner to instil knowledge. This can lead to a classroom where the learner is not necessarily encouraged to engage with the knowledge presented to them, but rather to essentially digest it, taking the knowledge in to regurgitate 'as is' when needed. There is nothing wrong with this type of learning, indeed for certain subjects and certain areas of subjects it is arguably the most efficient form of learning. However a weakness present within the behaviourist theory is that it does not allow the learner to progress much further then the 'applying' stage in the new blooms taxonomy. It may be incorrect to say that it does not 'allow', but it certainly does not encourage the learner to progress further into the analysing, evaluating and creating stages of the model without proper movement into shaping the learners behaviour. Even though they may get their own their own, the approach does not provide scaffolding to support the learner to these more advanced interactions with the knowledge. This is because the learner is not forced to engage with the knowledge in an active fashion, they do not have to make it their own, instead expected to be able to reconstruct what the teacher has presented to them, showing an ability to remember and reproduce, but not necessarily to comprehend on a meaningful level. On the other hand a constructivist approach attempts to ensure that the learner interacts on a level that allows them to engage in creating from the basis of the knowledge conveyed, therefore encouraging higher order thinking. However

In a behaviourist classroom the teacher will be actively seeking to identify behaviour to be changed, and, once identified, they will plan specific interventions to alter that behaviour in a desired way using antecedents and consequences. The teacher constantly accumulates data on the results of these interventions and modifies their approach to more effectively 'shape' the students behaviour. Praise, although contingent upon the behaviour of the student, will strategically and frequently be given out to reinforce desired behaviours. Each lesson will have clear and precises goals in terms of knowledge, attitudes and skills to be transferred to the students, and cues and prompts will be utilized in order to set up behavioural patterns and shape the students into the desired learning pattern. This would then be scheduled with continuous regular reinforcement to begin with, followed by more intermittent and sporadic reinforcement to ease the student into self regulated learning. This shaping is necessary because a strict behaviourist approach is only useful for a short period of time, shaping is required to further the students learning.

In an English classroom it would be expected that the teacher would be actively reinforcing the engagement of students in class discussion with leading and directed questioning accompanied with praise for participation. The teacher*/***

As a teacher it is important to realise that behaviourism does work, it is a significant part of any teaching and has a very effective and functional purpose but that it is not all of the picture. As with the need to be versatile in teaching to cover the multiple intelligences, so too do we have to be versatile in the theories we use in our practice. While behaviourism is a very important tool we can use, and essentially covers a large portion of the behaviour management and positive patterns we can set in the class, we still need constructivism in order to facilitate *

Piaget posited four stages that all human beings go through in the process of maturation. The sensorimotor stage is that stage "from birth to age 2. Children experience the world through movement and senses (use five senses to explore the world)"

-Santrock, John W.. Children. 9. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

The preoperational stage consists of children from ages two to seven and consists of egocentrism and begins to see the world symbolically, then the children begin to think logically and move into the concrete operational stage between ages seven and twelve and finally from age twelve onwards reach the formal operation stage and develop abstract reasoning.

"the fact that many of the

voluntary responses of animals and

humans are strengthened when they are

reinforced (followed by a desirable

consequence) and weakened when they

are either ignored or punished."

"...organisms learn new behaviours and when to exhibit them and ʻunlearnʼ existing


"...all behaviours are accompanied by certain consequences, and these consequences

strongly influence whether these behaviours are repeated and at what level of intensity."

"Positive interactions between teacher and students can generate successful learning

outcomes in the presence of complex dynamics of persons, conditions and outcomes."

Snowman et al. (2009). Chapter 7.

"Behavioural Learning Theory: Operant

Conditioning". In Psychology Applied to

Teaching. 1st Australian Edition. Milton,

QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.