Based off of this week’s textbook reading in Chapter 11, I have been able to more thoroughly grasp the foundations behind each learning theory; behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism. I personally find that my individual understanding of a concept tends to be increased when I put the knowledge that I have retained or studied into practice, and thus have chosen to respond to the following prompt:
How would the learning be designed differently by a behaviorist, a cognitivist, and a constructivist? Scenario: A high school social study teacher is planning a class on climate change.
At its core, behaviorism measures learning as an observable change in behaviour. Thus, through behaviourist teaching practices, learners are presented with a stimulus, and are guided to display a desired response through the use of cues to first prompt its delivery, and followed by reinforcement to strengthen its frequency. Evidently, in order for the preceding to occur, the learner must know how and under what conditions they should execute the desired response. So, a teacher’s main goal might be to provide opportunities for their learners to practice the linking of a stimulus and a response. Specifically, a behaviourist teacher might approach a class on climate change with the aim of having their students to be able to recite its top five contributors. Their learning design could resemble:
A. Initially having their students complete a pre-assessment determining how much information they already possess about the contributors to climate change, helping the teacher to become aware of the depth of instruction and conditioning opportunities for practicing the desired response (listing the top five contributors of climate change) that their students will need.
B. Providing their students with an outline of the class with clearly outlined learning outcomes/goals (i.e “Students will be able to recite the top 5 contributors of climate change…”), and the ways in which such outcomes would be assessed (i.e. what kind of tests, projects, etc. would act as chances to display the desired response).
C. Shaping the desired response (the top 5 contributors of climate change) by providing worksheets with similar prompts and wording to how the content was delivered and will be assessed.
D. Giving constructive feedback on any form of assessment to alter a student response to its desired form or offering a reward or punishment to motivate delivery of the desired response among students (i.e. those that finish in the bottom 20% of the class must stay after class, etc.).
Cognitivism emphasizes supporting learners by creating opportunities for them to make connections between new knowledge and existing knowledge in meaningful ways, and as a result employs instruction relevant to an individual’s previous learning experiences. Specifically, a cognitivist teacher might approach a class on climate change with the aim of having their students become cognizant of a contributor they weren’t before familiar with. Their learning design could resemble:
A. Initially having students complete a pre-assessment determining how much information they already possess about the contributors to climate change, helping the teacher to become aware how they can create opportunities for their students to make connections between their prior knowledge and the new material in the coming lesson.
B. Presenting content in organized, structured chunks (smallest to greatest of the relevant contributors to climate change, etc.) so that learners can process it sequentially and in stages.
C. Creating learning environments for students to access their prior knowledge through the use of mind maps (visually connecting new concepts to old concepts) or analogies and metaphors for example (acronyms to help students remember the major contributors of climate change, etc.).
D. Giving constructive feedback on assignments, and offering learners the chance to revise their work to ensure accurate mental links between old and new information on the contributors to climate change.
Constructivism shifts the responsibility of generating meaning into the hands of the learner, defining knowledge as the outcome of an individual “constructing understanding” from their own subjective experiences. Likewise, learners might be encouraged to look for sources validating or challenging their comprehension of a certain topic. Specifically, a constructivist teacher might approach a class on climate change with the aim of having their students formulate an opinion on what its greatest contributor is out of five. Their learning design could resemble:
A. Refraining from providing students with set learning outcomes, and instead giving them ideas of the contexts that what they are learning about might be useful in (environmental justice for climate change, etc.).
B. Presenting multiple rationales, credible resources, and perspectives on why one of the five contributors to climate change might be more influential than the others in the delivery of their lesson’s content.
C. Creating opportunities for the expression of opinion and listening to the opinons of others among students (debate, open discussion, etc.).
D. Assessing based on applying skills to new contexts; students might gather information to support what they think the greatest contributor to climate change out of five is in class, and be evaluated on their ability to support what they think the smallest contributor to climate change out of five is.