How People Learn
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emphasis is placed on the learner or the student rather than the teacher
or the instructor. It is the learner who interacts with objects and
events and thereby gains an understanding of the features held by such
objects or events. The learner, therefore, constructs his/her own
conceptualizations and solutions to problems. Learner autonomy and
initiative is accepted and encouraged.
Behaviorism can be
characterized as a type of psychology that examines the overt,
observable actions and reactions of an individual. Instead of looking at
the mind, behaviorists study the unbiased, environmental conditions that
influence a person’s behavior.
are patterns of physical or mental action that underlie specific acts of
intelligence and correspond to stages of child development (see
Schemas). There are four primary cognitive structures (i.e., development
stages) according to Piaget: sensorimotor, preoperations, concrete
operations, and formal operations. While the stages of cognitive
development identified by Piaget are associated with characteristic age
spans, they vary for every individual.
implies an active role, or responsibility towards ones behavior. Glasser
states, "We almost always have choices, and the better the choice, the
more we will be in control of our lives." This includes choices of not
only how to act but how we feel as well. How we feel is not controlled
by others or events, unless we choose to allow it to.
(Observational) is based primarily on the work of Albert Bandura. He and
his colleagues were able to demonstrate through a variety of experiments
that the application of consequences was not necessary for learning to
take place. Rather learning could occur through the simple processes of
observing someone else's activity.
begin from what is near to the student's experience and build to what is
further from their experience.
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in which the learner, teacher,
and content interact with a problem that needs resolution. Vygotsky
(1978) maintained the child follows the adult's example and gradually
develops the ability to do certain tasks without help or assistance. He
called the difference between what a child can do with help and what he
or she can do without guidance the "zone of proximal development" (ZPD).
In other words, ZPD is the discrepancy between
children's actual mental age and the level they reach in solving
problems with assistance. This ZPD concept also reinforces the
importance of the principle of readiness. The readiness principle
reinforces the need for a learner to be at a point of readiness for
learning certain material.
Social Process of
Social process of cognitive development, introduced by Vygotsky,
describes the general law of genetic development, which states that
every complex mental function was first an interaction between people.
Bruner also believes the learner's participation in culture aides their
psychological development. Much of Vygotsky's work influenced the
Learning Lave and Wenger (1991) saw the acquisition of knowledge as
a social process in which people participated at different levels
depending on their authority in a group, i.e. whether they were a
newcomer to the group or had been an active participant for sometime.
The process by which a newcomer learns from the rest of the group was
central to their notion of a CoP; they termed this process Legitimate
Peripheral Participation (LPP).
study functions such as perception and memory in animals. In
humans, they use non-invasive brain scans -- such as positron emission
tomography and magnetic resonance imaging -- to uncover routes of neural
processing that occur during language, problem solving and other tasks.
Behavioral neuroscientists study the processes underlying behavior in
humans and in animals. Their tools include microelectrodes, which
measure electrical activity of neurons, and brain scans, which show
parts of the brain that are active during activities such as seeing,
speaking or remembering.
Scientists caution that the
brain is complex and, while research has revealed some significant
findings, there is no widespread agreement about their applicability to
the general population or to education in particular. Nevertheless,
brain research provides rich possibilities for education and reports of
studies from this field have become popular
topics in some educational journals.
Learning styles are
simply different approaches or ways of learning. The types of learning
styles include: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.
are seven different ways to demonstrate intellectual ability.
One popularization of mind-based research, the
hemisphericity theory, has attributed certain learning styles and
preferences to dominance of the left or the right side of the brain.
This dichotomy seems to explain observable differences among learners
and designations of have appeared in our popular culture. The
original studies that supported the theory, however, involved severing
(either through an accident or by surgery) the band of nerve fibers, the
corpus callosum, that connects the two hemispheres. In a normal brain
the two sides of the brain operate together, but with the connection
severed, the two halves cannot communicate. The popular interpretation
of the hemisphere explanation of personal learning styles ignored the
complex, interactive reality
of the two sides working together. While understanding the brain's
hemispheres is undoubtedly relevant to education, children cannot be
categorized as exclusively left-brained or right-brained learners.