Behaviourist And The Cognitive Approach To Learning Theories Education Essay

The two chief influential acquisition attacks are the behaviorist and the cognitive attack to larning theories.

This study critically evaluates how learning theories are applied in the 14-19 Applied Science schoolroom. It examines how behaviorism, although an out-of-date theory, is still relevant in the modern schoolroom and is still used in developing the wagess and countenances policies of the modern school. The impact of Piaget ‘s theory of cognitive development is evaluated and what possible troubles might originate if they were applied precisely as Piaget dictated. The impact of adhering strictly to Piaget maturational phases is criticised and how it might non be possible to adhere to put ages for patterned advance in a school. Kolb, Vygotsky and Bruner ‘s constructivist attacks are compared and shown that, when applied to a motivated category they work as they were originally intended and yet when applied to a more ill-affected category, they are n’t as easy applied.

The scientific discipline schoolroom is an inherently unsafe topographic point for pupils to work in ( Frost, Turner 2005, p.168 ) . It is hence necessary to instil a degree of ‘discipline ‘ in the pupils, to guarantee they minimise the dangers to themselves and others in the scientific discipline schoolroom. It is necessary to ‘condition ‘ ( Child 1997, pp.114-121 ) the pupils to act when certain bids are issued. Behaviour theoreticians believed that the head was a clean slate ‘tabula rasa ‘ and that we could detect the response to stimulus that happened to an being.

Watson thought that a response is more likely to be connected to an environmental event ( stimulation ) , if that stimulus-response is repeated on a regular basis and with a short period of clip between them ( Child 1997, p.115 ) . Thorndike showed that the pupil is less likely to reiterate negative stimulus-responses, which hence means that there will be an addition in the positive stimulus-responses, until a right response is repeated on a regular basis. The stimulus-response is so reinforced whenever a positive consequence is produced. ( Child 1997, pp.114-121 ) . Skinner made several decisions from his findings in Operant Conditioning ( Child 1997, pp.119-121 ) . The stairss taken in the conditioning procedure must be little. Regular wagess are required at the early phases, but one time the conditioning is automatic, wagess can be given less on a regular basis. The wagess must come instantly or shortly after a positive response to guarantee maximal effectivity ( feedback ) ( Child 1997, pp.114-121 )

When discoursing larning theories, it ‘s necessary to advert Pavlov due to the importance held in his work, even if it does n’t truly straight affect the schoolroom. Pavlov pioneered the thought of classical conditioning with his celebrated experiment where he taught Canis familiariss to salivate, when a stimulation was applied, merely before nutrient was given to them. The Canis familiariss finally associated the tintinnabulation of the bell with the reaching of nutrient and salivated in expectancy of the nutrient arriving ( Child 1997, pp.116-118 ) . Pavlov ‘s work does non straight link to learning in the schoolroom, but it does use, in that the pupils may be conditioned, to hold a memory or a response to an event that happens within the schoolroom environment.

During my lessons I tried to implement Watson, Thorndike ‘s and Skinner ‘s theory of Operant Conditioning in the schoolroom to modify the behavior of the category. The end was to condition the pupils to reflexively halt speaking when I moved to a certain country of the room ; utilizing the theory that the pupils would reiterate behavior that received a positive response, and non reiterate behavior that received a negative response. I ab initio started to modify their behavior by traveling to the left of the forepart desk, keeping my manus up and waiting for silence in the same topographic point, every clip I required them to halt speaking and listen. Initially it was necessary to inquire for silence and remind them that I was waiting to speak. In some instances it was necessary to publish a countenance as per the scientific discipline section ‘s regulations of two warnings, so publishing a detainment or maintaining them in for portion of their interruption if, if they did n’t halt speaking rapidly plenty. If the category stopped speaking rapidly, they would be rewarded with congratulations and if the lesson had gone good a category wages of a game or competition at the terminal, if it was appropriate. Positive feedback about public presentation is said to hold a positive consequence on future public presentation. Skinner called it support ; Thorndike called it The Law of Effect. ( Child 1997, pp.115-121 )

McAllister et Al. ( 1969 ) found that praising pupils non merely acted as a positive support of behavior, but that the congratulations may hold besides worked by doing equal group force per unit area in the category to cut down inappropriate behavior, because the negative behavior reflected on the category as a whole ( McAllister et al. 1969 ) . Bandura ‘s Social Learning Theory would state that the pupil ‘s were non merely being conditioned to react to the instructor, but besides larning from their equals actions as to what was appropriate behavior in the schoolroom. ( Atherton 2009 )

By the terminal of the six hebdomads, the pupils were get downing to react to the consecutive estimate as described by Skinner ( Child 1997, p.121 ) positively and required reminding less that I was waiting to speak to them. It was apparent that they much preferred the positive response of hearing and being allowed to go on with whatever activity I had planned, to the negative response of non listening and having a countenance, before go oning with the activity I had planned. It could be said that they were enduring from Learned Helplessness ( Atherton 2009a ) and had given up on being able to alter the lesson by negative behavior.

Due to the demand to supply a safe working environment in the schoolroom, I besides worked on the category reacting to the bid ‘STOP ‘ when they were transporting out laboratory work. The thought being that if ‘STOP ‘ was said aloud to the whole category, that they automatically stop what they are making, halt speaking, bend to where the instructor is in the schoolroom and fix for instructions that are of import or safety related.

“ In the early phases of conditioning, uninterrupted support is needed to set up the Stimulus-Response nexus. “ ( Child 1997, p.119 ) The troubles whilst seeking to implement these theories was down to the sum of clip involved in acquiring the pupils reacting to the stimulation positively. The theory of being able to honor the pupils for reacting positively and approve them if they do n’t is n’t appropriate in this state of affairs, due to the serious nature of the bid. If the pupils do n’t react to it, it could finally stop up with dire effects in an exigency state of affairs.

The ‘STOP ‘ bid in specific was a hard one to implement due to its infrequent usage and the earnestness of its usage that was implied to the pupils. If the bid was overused, so it would lose its importance as something serious, but on the other manus if it was n’t practiced plenty, the pupils would non react suitably when the bid was issued.

Another interesting state of affairs that arose was from the attention-monopolising pupils, in that the more demanding pupils are prepared to set up with the minor incommodiousness of the negative support if they get the attending clip from the instructor. ( McAllister et al. 1969 )

Sing the pupils more often, I am certain that they could be conditioned quicker and demo the unconditioned response more readily than when I was merely able to see them a few times a hebdomad.

Behaviorism is obviously still relevant in the modern school ( McQuillan 1998 ) , even if it is a slightly out-of-date theory. Schools still have their countenances policies based around Operant Conditioning and negative support with assorted degrees of warnings and detainments in topographic point for negative behavior. This will stay effectual for every bit long as policy shapers allow these countenances to be used. However, Skinner ‘s belief that we are all clean slates and what goes on inside our black boxes ( Child 1997, pp.119-121 ) when we learn is non of import, is non relevant any longer. ( Child 1997, pp.113-121 ) The pupils I have worked with and taught are all really alone in their personalities and show wholly different ways of larning. To state that the acquisition processes they go through are merely related to external stimulation and their response to that stimulation does non correlate with what has been observed in the schoolroom.

Constructivist Theory has played a large portion in the current educational environment in schools. Driver and Easley introduced constructivism as it is known now to the scientific discipline community in 1978. ( Solomon 1994, p.3 ) They stated what was antecedently an unaccessible theory for scientific discipline, accessible to the scientific educational community. The 14-19 schoolroom allows us to look at how Piaget ‘s Theory of Cognitive Development is applied.

Piaget observed that kids go through four distinguishable phases of cognitive ripening ( Burton 2001, pp.237-239 )

Phases of Cognitive Development ( Atherton 2009b )

In the 14-19 schoolroom, harmonizing to Piaget ‘s theory, all the pupils have reached the Formal Operational phase of cognitive development and are capable of developing conjectural state of affairss and understand abstract constructs. Students should be able to use their apprehension of a state of affairs and in theory be able to speculate what would go on in a given event. ( Child 1997, pp.191-207 )

From experience it is clear that non all pupils reach the Formal Operation phase at the same clip and in fact the 11 twelvemonth and up boundary is non as clear cut as that ( Child 1997, p.202-203 ) . Within my Year 9 KS3 classes the bulk of the pupils were at the Formal Operation phase of development and were capable of taking an abstract thought, such as levers and minute of a force and using their cognition and apprehension to deduce the equation for ciphering the minute of a force themselves. A complex operation that required the pupils to both assimilate and accommodate ( Child 1997, p.192 ) the new information they were treating, a undertaking which some found hard, but all were able to finally finish.

With the Year 10 Applied Science category merely a little part of the category were at the point where they could treat abstract information or do a hypothesis. Unlike the twelvemonth nine category they had to be walked through every new concept measure by measure ( Burton, 2001 p241 ) . When they were given the undertaking of speculating why something had happened, for illustration, where did the radiance visible radiation from het Ca carbonate semen from, they were unable to grok that the radiance was non related to the heating itself, but was really an endothermal reaction. Even with a measure by measure account and clearly demoing how the reaction was happening, merely a little part of the category were able to absorb and suit the scheme.

‘Teaching at in-between and upper school degree should get down from concrete considerations, constructing up, where applicable, to more abstract logical thinking. ‘ ( Child 1997, p.203 ) . Piaget ‘s theory of distinguishable maturational phases poses an interesting job for instructors and educational governments. Should a pupil be moved into a more advanced category or twelvemonth because of their age, or should they travel up a degree when they reach a phase in their acquisition ability? From experience with the two different categories, it ‘s rather evident that these boundaries are non every bit clear as Piaget was led to believe. If a school was to learn pupils based on their phase of cognitive development ; how long could a pupil be held back for, before the age spread between their schoolmates was excessively much? Some pupils may after all ne’er reach the Formal Operations phase.

Vygotsky ‘s theory says that the kid ‘s higher mental procedures are developed through the kid working with other more knowing individuals than themselves. ( Kozulin 2003, p.19 ) . He theorised that there was a Zone of Proximal Development ( ZPD ) that was the boundary between a kid ‘s Zone of Actual Performance and their possible degree of understanding. The kid can entree their ZPD with the aid of a more ‘competent ‘ ( Kozulin 2003, p.20 ) individual steering them. ( Chaiklin 2003, p.43 )

Vygotsky ‘s Social Constructivist theory moved off from the didactic attack of instruction, which frequently led to pupils developing their ain misconceptions and non being able to use their scientific cognition ‘flexibly ‘ to new state of affairss ( Karpov 2003, pp.67-73 ) , to a more socially guided, active attack to acquisition, where pupils learnt from their instructor, equals and themselves.

Kolb ‘s four phase experiential learning rhythm, is similar to both Vygotsky ‘s theory of a ZPD and Bruner ‘s theory of scaffolding the acquisition. Kolb ‘s rhythm builds on the scholar ‘s concrete experience and goes through three distinguishable phases, brooding observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation, before returning to the now new concrete experience, . ( Burton 2001, p.246 )

Similarly Bruner theorised that pupils built on their past experiences and that by using a coiling course of study, they would able to return to capable countries and construct on them when they were more capable of covering with the more complex countries of the course of study. He saw the instructor as a usher, taking the pupil through the acquisition procedure by scaffolding their acquisition with appropriate stuff and as the pupil progressed less staging is required. ( Burton 2001, p.241 )

When using these theories it is of import to be cognizant that pupils are all at different phases of acquisition. Some pupils have a more advanced apprehension, which puts them in a wholly different ZPD, concrete experience or phase in their scaffolded acquisition, to pupils who have a lower degree of apprehension.

With the KS3 category the pupils were all in the 5-7 scope for mark classs, therefore it was a batch easier to be after how they were traveling to come on in the lesson. A clear apprehension of where they were in relation to their ZPD or their concrete cognition was available and it was hence a batch clearer, what was required to acquire them to a new Zone of Actual Performance or to the following phase in Kolb ‘s rhythm. They had all reached Piaget ‘s formal operation phase and were able to develop their cognition independently.

With the GCSE Applied Science category it was n’t every bit easy to use the theories. The pupils target classs ranged from G-A. , hence determining where their concrete cognition lay or where they were in their Zone of Actual Performance was rather disputing. Such a big spread of phases meant it was frequently necessary to take a didactic attack to seek and supply a basic foundation degree of cognition for the lower attaining pupils, so that they could entree the lesson. In some instances pupils were ne’er able to entree the lesson due to their complete alienation from the topic or school in general. Most of the category had non reached the formal operation phase and some struggled in the concrete operational phase at times. A good illustration being when one of the pupils struggled with the construct of limestone holding nil to make with the fruit.

Finding the center land, where the higher attaining pupils would n’t be bored waiting for the lower attaining pupils to acquire on undertaking or understand what to make was highly ambitious, and at some points, felt wholly unpointed seeking to use societal constructivist theory to the lesson be aftering with such a broad scope of classs in the category was one of the key jobs when seeking to use these theories to the lessons.

It was nevertheless ( in retrospect ) interesting being able to see two different sides to how societal constructivist theory is applied in the schoolroom. With the higher attaining, less ill-affected KS3 pupils, it was a batch easier to see how the theories could be efficaciously applied to their lessons, how they benefitted from the instructor moving as a usher and their involvement in the lesson meant that they were able to entree it and travel frontward in their acquisition. It was ever clear at which point in the acquisition procedure each pupils was at and what was required to travel them onto the following degree in the learning rhythm.

With the more ill-affected, lower achieving pupils, in the GCSE Applied Science category it was so much harder to efficaciously use these theories in the lesson. I tried on several occasions to learn lessons where I acted as the usher through their learning procedure ; the pupils ( in theory ) would construct on their experiential acquisition and travel frontward in their cognition and apprehension of the topic. In fact what happened was that the pupils panicked at the idea of non holding the instructor ordering to them each measure of the lesson and what they must make. The concrete experience for some was so limited that they were unable to use it to the lesson and really rapidly, if they were non given measure by measure instructions as to what to make next, they would be off undertaking and do other pupils to travel off undertaking as good. Therefore it seemed that the behaviorist theory, in peculiar Skinner, was being followed, as the positive wages was finishing the measure.

Within the GCSE category there were several pupils who were classed as holding Particular Educational Needs ( SEN ) , this ranged from Social Emotional Behavioural Difficulties ( SEBD ) to Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. Since the revised national course of study was brought in to consequence in September 2000, these pupils have had the right to a topographic point in the schoolroom alongside pupils without any SEN. ( Peacey 2001 ) Students with SEN are to be included in the lessons and non treated as separate entities to the non-SEN pupils. Efficaciously inclusion was brought in to guarantee that all pupils had entree to precisely the same educational chances as other pupils.

Too see inclusion in pattern is really different to reading about it on paper though. Within the category the pupils enduring from Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, worked reasonably diligently, and although at times they found it a struggle organizing themselves for class work or in taking notes, they caused small break to the other pupils. They had the excess aid required and were catered for in scrutinies and class work ; they were efficaciously being included.

The pupils who were listed as holding SEBD on the other manus, would hold appeared to an foreigner to enjoy in the chance to be able to interrupt larning ; they spent more clip being removed from the category than larning itself. Yet if their backgrounds were to be looked into, it would be evident that it was an accomplishment being in school that twenty-four hours and it was rather apprehensible that scientific discipline was non their top precedence, when they might non hold even had breakfast that forenoon.

Their inclusion in the lesson was negatively impacting on other pupils who were non on the SEN registry and did non necessitate to be specially included into the category to due to disruptive behavior. This leads to the inquiry ‘When should a pupil non be included in a schoolroom? , which at this point in my limited experience, I am unable to reply.

In decision, behaviorism is still ever traveling to be outstanding in the modern school as a manner of taking pupils towards going more disciplined and focused in their surveies, via the wagess and countenances policies on which they are based.

When using the cognitive acquisition theories, it is necessary to be cognizant that non all of the pupils are traveling to be get downing at the same degree, some may good be significantly below the degree of other pupils and are merely grouped together because of their age. Therefore the stuffs to be taught are non needfully traveling to be accessible to all of the category all of the clip unless they are developed to be inclusive for all the pupils, which is the current purpose of the authorities. ( Peacey 2001 ) . The lone feasible option would be to group categories closely by attainment degree as opposed to age, which is improbable to go on.

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