Monthly Archives: June 2015

Learning Theories in Education

Several theories of learning have been developed over time, however the three prominent learning theories in relation to education are behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism, with connectivism being developed most recently due to the increase in the use of technology in education.

The Four Theories:

Cognitivism is the study of the mind and how it obtains, processes, and stores information. Cognitive views on learning are associated with an information processing model which consists of several parts namely, sensory memory, working memory and long term memory, where the last two terms are part of metacognition or “the act of thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing”.

I believe the best quote I found in relation to metacognition is “referring to conscious behaviour in which learners plan, monitor, evaluate and revise their progress in the course of the learning process.”

Based on the literature metacognition is the awareness individuals have of their own mental processes and the subsequent ability to monitor, regulate, and direct themselves to a desired end. For example students demonstrate metacognition if they can articulate what strategies they used to read and understand a text.

A number of teachers use the cognitive view of learning to begin lessons as elaborate rehearsal allows for information to be stored and encoded in the long term memory with constant stimuli from the environment when a person is attentive and perceptive. Attention and perception are heightened when a person is motivated which in turn allows for an increase in learning.

The following graph clearly demonstrates what effect revision can have on the long term memory and how much potential the brain has to store information and recall information when necessary. The brain does however lose information if the information is not continually rehearsed and encoded into the long term memory.

Cognitive Revision Graph

In order to stop the brain “pruning” out information it deems is not useful it is important to make learning rewarding, enjoyable, and motivating in order for students to develop new skills and learn new information. Cognitivism is particularly relevant to the physical education setting as practicing certain skills and techniques over a period of time allows students to develop movements and eventually link them together, in order to perform the skill without thinking about it.

A simple video explanation of cognitivism:

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Developmental Stages, Student Diversity and the Importance of Feedback

All educational institutions, regardless of location or type will have students with varying rates of physical, social and emotional, intellectual ability, communication and speech development, who will have diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. In almost all educational institutions, students will come from diverse backgrounds and have varied individual needs.  This diversity emerges from language, gender and religion, culture, learning styles, ability and disability, economic status, student interests and motivation. All of which will need to be taken into consideration by the teachers of today.

In relation to varying rates of physical, social and emotional, intellectual and communication and speech, many theories have been established over time relating to the development of these areas. For example, one of the prominent theorists in the area of psycho-social development is Eric Erikson, who believes that the ego of an individual develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future. Erikson places emphasis on the adolescent period, noting that it is a crucial stage for developing a person’s identity.

Erikson’s graph of Developmental stages:

Approximate Age Virtues Psychosocial crisis Significant relationship Existential question Examples
0-2 years Hope Basic trust vs. mistrust Mother Can I trust the world? Feeding, abandonment
2–4 years Will Autonomy vs. shame and doubt Parents Is it okay to be me? Toilet training, clothing themselves
4–5 years Purpose Initiative vs. guilt Family Is it okay for me to do, move, and act? Exploring, using tools or making art
5–12 years Competence Industry vs. inferiority Neighbours, school Can I make it in the world of people and things? School, sports
13–19 years Fidelity Identity vs. role confusion Peers, role model Who am I? Who can I be? Social relationships
20–39 years Love Intimacy vs. isolation Friends, partners Can I love? Romantic relationships
40–64 years Care Generativity vs. stagnation Household, workmates Can I make my life count? Work, parenthood
65-death Wisdom Ego integrity vs. despair Mankind, my kind Is it okay to have been me? Reflection on life

Furthermore, the following document provides a good overview in relation to children’s development including principles of development stages, sequences of development, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, communication and speech development, maturation factors affecting growth and development and understanding how to observe these developments.

Understanding Children’s Development (PDF)

Being primarily involved in Physical education and health education, the physical development of individual students play a crucial part in which type of activities and skill progressions can be used for each age group. There will obviously be differences in development within a class and lessons will have to be adjusted to suit these needs. Giving every student multiple opportunities to respond individually within a lesson can not only increase skill progression and learning, but also confidence.

In relation to student diversity, all students are entitled to participate and learn about health and physical education including those with disabilities and those from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Australian Curriculum (ACARA) is committed to developing a high-quality curriculum for all Australian students, one that promotes excellence and equity in education.

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