Theories and Principles of Learning

1 January 2017

Willis (1990) gave insight to how learning should be initiated by the teacher proposing ‘learning needs to be presented in the language of the learner in order to be accessible’. Students learn in their own way and factors influence this, so in different environments or for different students, some learning theories will work better than others. The behaviorist theory came about in the 20th century when it is was though that human learning could be predicted by the study of animals, at the time they experimented the use of stimuli to see the outcome from the animals. The behaviorist learning theory suggests that we learn by receiving a stimulus that provokes a response. So long as that response is reinforced in some way that response will be repeated. “(Reece, Walker, 2006, pg81) Pavlov and Watson were one of the first to experiment with this and many people criticised them but it was proving to work, a bit like when you smell your favourite food, it sparks certain emotions that make you feel a certain way, this when put into the classroom can be used as a trigger for different activities or to calm behaviour.

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It is about getting the students to associate in the classroom, which will benefit the learning environment. Learning by association is considered a behavioural view and can be used within the lesson to trigger different parts of a lesson depending on what the task is. Within Design and Technology subject, lessons are normally broken up into practical based learning and theory based learning, and triggers can be used to put the learners in the correct frame of mind to be able to really connect with the work. “We are so used to seeing trademarks in the media and around our environment.

The trademarks for Mercedes-Benz, Nike, McDonalds, for example, are so familiar that we do not need the company name to recognise who they are. This is because we have learnt the company name through association” (Ingleby, Joyce, Powell, 2010, pg. 62) As the quote explains, media makes the viewer associate different visuals with companies so that names are no longer needed. This can be achieved in lesson to separate different required elements of the lesson and also to stimulate students to think in a certain way.

The student teacher achieves this with three different items that have been introduced into his lesson. One, the ‘objectives hat’. This is a bright top hat with coloured dots on it, this is a quirky hat and it is trying to promote a positive attitude about the lesson objective and the enjoyment that hopefully will follow. Another reason is also at the beginning of the lesson the students are required to know their objectives for the session and this hat is associated with writing them down in their books. The second object that is used is the ‘action hat’.

This is an Australian hat with corks on it, it symbolises action and adventure and is used when the students are going to be starting practical in the workshop, vocal instructions is not needed when it is the practical part of the lesson, the hat lets students know that it is that time and they require to put and aprons and prepare for practical, the student teacher has mixed ability classes and some students would prefer visual stimuli so this promotes the inclusive learning of the students and gets all participating without confusion.

Finally the third object that is used in the student teachers lesson is their plenary glasses. These are bright blue, thick-rimmed glasses, and they are to symbolise a few different aspects to the lesson, the main one for the learners is that it is associated with the end of the lesson. It also is a time for reflection, this is why the student teacher has picked glasses as the object because it symbolised looking back and reflecting.

This is also a time to see what the students have learnt in lesson and during the lesson the student teacher has been assessing the students to see whether they are hitting the required levels targeted for them so when it comes to this part of the session where the plenary takes place the student teacher can ask specific questions to specific students which contributes to inclusive learning in the classroom, because it is getting all students involved at all levels.

This techniques used is closely connected to the behaviourist theory and how learning can be associated with words and objects to spark stimulation. “Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which behavior is strengthened when followed by a reinforced reward) or diminished by a punishment”(Ingleby, Joyce, Powell, 2010, pg65) Consequence and reward is something that works well in the student teachers placement, this is because their are a lot of SEN students who will not work on their own initiative and need firm guidelines to learn, so this is a technique used by student teacher and it is in the form of a consequence scale, this is a procedure which is used when students are behaving badly, and also on the reverse when a student has performed well in a class then they are put on the rewards side of this scale.

This is used when the student is not equip for lesson or is late and also in lesson for bad behavior. The scale consists of four levels which a student will move up when being badly behaved and depending on what consequence the student gets, from stage one which is just a verbal warning to level four which is an after school detention and sometimes removal from the class. This is a great way for the students to know that actions cause consequences and if used correctly can stop distraction in lesson.

Using the behaviourist way of thinking it does focus more on teacher centered learning, and group discussions for example are harder to control using these techniques, this is why the student teacher has presentations and demonstrations which are focused around the teacher, this is mainly at the beginning of the lesson and when practical starts, the student teachers techniques change depending on what style of teaching he is trying to achieve.

Design and technology is very different to normal academic subjects such as maths and english, and it is based a lot round student centered learning to promote inclusive learning because the students can learn from each other. This is why the student teacher moves from different theories within the classroom so to make the better learning environment. The learning environment that the student teacher is working in can have many varieties of students and the behaviourist theory doesn’t work as effectively in some cases.

Through the teaching placement, many different strategies, theories and styles have been used. Killen (2006) stated “no single teaching strategy is effective all the time for all learners. ” Furthermore Killen (2006) added ‘there may not be one single strategy that’s effective but a set of strategies can be. ’ Taking this into account, the student teacher has to intergrate different theories to enhance the differentiation to impact positively on the teaching and learning and promote inclusive learning. The third approach of learning is at the other extreme to skinner’s beliefs. Both behaviourist and cognitive take scientific approach to learning in terms of methods they use and the theories they generate. By contrast, the humanist approach is anti-scientific in the way in which it investigates human beings. The underpinning belief is that we are all unique individuals”(Ingleby, Joyce, Powell, 2010, pg. 1) As the quote describes, the humanist theory is about the whole student and see that everyone is unique. The humanist theory was introduced at the beginning of the 1960’s with the publication of A S Neill’s ‘Summerhill’, this was based around a school in southern England who took these views and used them in their school. “Summerhill, in southern England, is an ‘open’, private school where the education of the whole person is considered more than the subject matter. (Reece, Walker, 2006, pg86) What they mean by this is that the person learning needs to develop him or herself and think about the personality and the ‘whole’ learner. The teacher will take a step back from the students and become a helping hand instead. The student teachers placement is based in a secondary school so this theory is not seen as often as if he were in a college or university environment. Humanist theory is all about student centered learning and this is the approach the student teacher takes when with the graphic products year 11’s.

The student teacher holds after school sessions for catch up on their coursework, this is an optional choice for the students and also a different learning environment, this is also to help inclusive learning because it is a mix ability group and very hard to keep everyone up to the same place, so this is for anyone who is feeling behind or just enjoys the work. This is a very relaxed environment, which is about sitting in a more personal setting, which helps with the older students, as they believe they are getting more respect from the student teacher.

The student teacher sometimes finds that this approach is ideal for his students. Within graphic products the students have to work on a controlled assessment that consists of them choosing a brief that they would like to work on. This humanist style of letting the students initially pick which brief they would like to do is a great for two reasons, one that the student feels like they have chosen their path that they want to go down but secondly and most importantly for the teacher is that the briefs selected for students to pick have a wide variety of skill sets involved and this is xcellent for differentiation, giving the whole class work which they can excel at and excellent way to promote inclusive learning. In conclusion the two theories work well in the school, but they need to be used in the correct environment, it can really promote inclusive learning through differentiation and consequence but also makes the student teacher constantly change his teaching techniques, which is a massive benefit to his lessons and his development. Word Count: 1617 Reference List

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