There are a plethora of educational or learning theories that throw light on how students learn. Each of these theories helps teachers, mentors, parents, and the educational ecosystem understand how every student is unique and perceives learning differently. These theories help teachers impart lessons in the classes and let them work towards the right optimization of the learning process. These educational theories were introduced by philosophers like Piaget, Bloom, Vygotsky, and Plato. Aspiring teachers, mentors, and parents should know educational theories as they help them to improve their teaching methods.
What are learning theories?
Mentioned below are some of the beneficial educational theories.
Cognitive learning theory
Cognitive learning theory stresses that students can learn better if they focus on processing the information they receive. It states that both external and internal factors influence learning.
The way students choose to process information makes a significant impact on how much they learn. Learning is not only influenced by the external environment but also by students' internal thoughts and thought processes. Plato and Descartes were the first two philosophers who came out with cognitive theory. However, Jean Piaget’s contribution to this theory is also appreciable.
If you are a teacher and would like to incorporate cognitive learning theory in your teachings, you simply have to start linking topics with real-life situations. Teachers need to bring the real world, i.e., day-to-day life instances to the classroom. For instance, when teaching math topics such as time and distance, allow students to estimate how much time it takes them to reach school. Teachers can also give homework where students need to figure out the speed of the vehicle with which they come to school. This will help them better understand the relationship between time, speed, and distance.
Behaviorism learning theory
Behaviorism learning theory says that learning is influenced by external stimuli, i.e., external environment and elements. It resonates with Pavlov’s ‘salivating dog’ theory. According to this theory, every time the dog is fed, the bell is made to ring. This allows the dog to associate the ringing bell with food. He starts salivating every time the bell rings, thinking about the food.
As per the behaviorism theory, the same has also been applied in classroom management. Students associate the teacher’s action with some or other doing. For instance, standing cross-legged in front of the desk allows students to relate that the teacher is in a carefree mood. Similarly, raising noise in frustration allows the students to stop talking. Encouraging students to give answers, even if they are unreasonable, will enable them to interact in the first place.
The Behaviorism learning theory also helps teachers develop behavior management strategies. Associating their misbehavior with the underlying problem will allow teachers to eliminate them.
Constructivism learning theory
The constructivism learning theory implies that students can learn better with the help of past learning or experiences. When students can relate to what is being taught with what they have learned earlier, the learning process becomes more refined and precise. Thus, every student perceives a topic differently. Each student uses their prior knowledge and information to process the topic. Students with a significant knowledge base will be able to understand the concepts earlier than others.
To make it equally understandable for all students simultaneously, teachers can come up with activities and creative projects before their lectures. For instance, they can organize problem-solving activities within the class to allow students to enrich their knowledge. Students can connect better when the topic is read through books/content.
Humanism learning theory
The humanism learning theory is closely related to the hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, in the hierarchy of needs, a person has three needs, i.e., self-fulfillment, psychological, and basic needs.
A person starts from the bottom of the pyramid upwards when it comes to fulfilling their needs. It should first fulfill its basic needs, then the physiological needs. The person reaches self-actualization when the self-fulfillment needs are met. Self-actualization is the phase of reaching one’s full potential.
To connect it with teaching, teachers should aim to achieve self-actualization in their classes. Their teachings should be focused on meeting the basic needs first, i.e., students should feel safe within their class and school. Next, a teacher should aim at meeting psychological needs, i.e., building the feeling of belongingness and self-esteem among the students. Students would be in the right frame of mind once they reach self-actualization. In short, educators should first focus on providing a comfortable place to learn and lend their ears to listen to students' emotional needs.
Connectivism learning theory
This is the newest form of educational theory, which focuses on social networking. It says that students can adapt to learning when they form connections. This also holds true in the future, as networking is one of the prime needs to find jobs these days. At this level, the connections refer to developing new hobbies, talking to more people, and fulfilling new goals each day. All of these will contribute to an effective learning process.
How can teachers adapt connectivism in classrooms?
Teachers can use this theory in classrooms by providing students with the opportunity to make new connections that can excite them to learn better. Here, connections are not subjective and could be anything that compels students towards learning. This could be with the help of interactive learning apps, using digital media and AI (artificial intelligence) to pique their interests. Teachers could also encourage students to talk to each other. They should aim to create a healthy relationship with their students for a more conducive learning environment.
If you are a new teacher, a parent, or an educator, learning about educational theories and their application can make a huge difference in your everyday teaching life. You can provide valuable lessons to your students through learning theories.
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