Learning approaches

How does learning occur? What is learning? How do adults learn? What is andragogy?

There are many definitions of learning, one of those is by Schuck ‘ learning involves the acquisition and modification of knowledge, skills, strategies, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. Learning involves cognitive, linguistic, motor and social skills and can take many forms.’  Schunk, D. (2000)

What is your definition of learning?

A basic issue in the study of learning concerns the process whereby learning occurs.

The behaviouristic learning approach was supported until 1960s when the cognitive approach began to emerge. With the cognitive approach key words, such as, reasoning, thinking, problem solving, internal schemas and learning process entered to the vocabulary of educators.

Constructivism applies both to learning theory, how people learn, and to epistemology i.e. to the nature of knowledge. Some key words that are linked to constructivism are; construction of knowledge, reconstruction, reflection and self-assessment

For you to think about: what aspects of teaching are and should be emphasised if the cognitive learning approach is used?

Look at the graph:
Learning approach, structure of learning process and teaching methods

Now utilise your information gathering, management and analysing techniques and familiarise yourself with the four main different learning theories (behaviouristic, cognitive, constructivist and experiential).

Your learning objectives are:

  • Consider a variety of theories of learning
  • Identify several principles of learning
  • Evaluate the starting points of your own teaching and consciously build a well-grounded practice theory for it

You can begin by answering these questions

Additionally, introduce another learning approach that interests you most and/or is close to your own teaching practices, for example PBL.

Questions to help you to familiarise yourself with various learning approaches.

  1. What does the theory mean?
  2. What are the basics of the theory?
  3. How is it manifested in schools, in real life?
  4. Which type of learning does the theory support?

Write an essay on your findings with appropriate reference materials but make sure you add some of your own experiences too.

Look at the material

Reading and reference materials

  • Armitage, A et al. 2003. Teaching and training in post-compulsory education 2nd
    eds. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Jarvis, P. 1987. Adult Learning in the Social Context. London:Routledge.
  • Jarvis, P. et al. 2003. The theory & practice on learning. Kogan Page Limited. Great Britain
  • Kansanen, P. et al. 2000. Teachers’ pedagogical Thinking. Theoretical Landscapes, Practical Challenges. Peter Lang: New York
  • Kolb, D. A. 1984 Experiental Learning. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Lefrancois, G. 1997. Psychology for teaching. Waldsworth . Belmont. CA.
  • Schunk, D.H. 2000. Learning Theories. An educational perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill, an imprint of Prentice Hall.
  • Tennant, M. 2006. Psychology and Adult Learning. Routledge. Oxon.
  • Wenger, E. 1999. Communities of Practice. Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.