Learning Theories and My Individual Learning Methods

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February 15, 2012 by idinnovation

Learning about different theories and learning styles has increased my understanding about why I utilize the various theories depending on the type of project I am working on learning. I definitely think during my secondary education I utilized behavioral learning since it is focused around understanding and changing a learner’s behavior. As I move forward in my educational development I have began to utilize many of the various learning theories.

 Theorists of behaviorism note that in order for behavior learning to be effective, it must be observable and measurable.  “Behaviorism equates learning with changes in either form or frequency of observable performance. Learning is accomplished when a proper response is demonstrated following the presentation of a specific environmental stimulus.” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993) “In assuming that human behavior is learned, behaviorists also hold that all behaviors can also be unlearned, and replaced by new behaviors; that is, when a behavior becomes unacceptable, it can be replaced by an acceptable one. A key element to this theory of learning is the rewarded response. The desired response must be rewarded in order for learning to take place.” (Standridge, 2001)

Conversely “Because of the emphasis on mental structures, cognitive theories are usually considered more appropriate for explaining complex forms of learning (reasoning, problem-solving, and information-processing) than are those of a more behavioral perspective (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).

I identify a lot with constructivist learning. The base of the constructivist philosophy is that the learner constructs his/her own knowledge based on personal experience. “Constructivism is not a theory but rather an epistemology, or philosophical explanation about the nature of learning (Simpson, 2002).” (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, p. 184)

The learning theory that I favor the most however is connectivism.  In connectivism learning typically comes from a network of information that has been created, or access has been granted.  A network can be comprised of websites, blogs, books, communities or groups, classes, to name a few. The transfer occurs when the learner has made connections between what they want to learn, where to learn how to do it, and if it’s a reliable source. Self-directed learners often have successful networks for learning.

Technology greatly influences and encourages connectivist learning. The more time a learner spends in his/her network, the more potential for effective learning and growth of the network.

Learning occurs “distributed within a network, social, technologically enhanced, recognizing and interpreting patterns.” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008)

“Principles of Connectivism:

• Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.

• Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.

• Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

• Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.

• Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

• Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.

• Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.”

(Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008)

 As a graduate student my network is vast.  I maintain contact with past co-workers, employers and other students on a regular basis.  This has enabled me to share their network which expands my knowledge base.


Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology .

E., Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning Theories and Instruction. New York: Laureate Publishing, Inc.

Ormrod, J.Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly , 50-72.

Standridge, M. (2001). Behaviorism. Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology .

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