Theories of Learning Essay

Piaget`s Cognitive Theory of Learning

Piaget`s cognitive theory of acquisition has remained popular among pedagogues and has greatly influenced course of study development. This is for the ground that traditional schooling gives extreme importance to the development of the learner’s cognitive modules. This theory was the apogee of his systemic longitudinal research on kids ( some of whom were his ain ) . Piaget`s theory describes what may be expected of kids at different phases of rational development.

Harmonizing to Piaget. all individuals go through a sequence of four distinguishable phases of rational development from birth to adulthood. Although every normal kid base on ballss through those phases. the ages at which some kids attain each phase may change. The four phases are ( 1 ) the sensorimotor phase. ( 2 ) the preoperational phase. ( 3 ) concrete operations phase. and ( 4 ) the formal operations phase ( Piaget. 1977 ) . Each phase is characterized by the ability to execute peculiar major cognitive undertakings.

Piaget`s attack to acquisition is a readiness attack. Readiness attacks in developmental psychological science stress that kids can non larn something until ripening gives them certain requirements. The ability to larn any cognitive content is ever related to their province of rational development and ways of thought as a consequence of this integrating.

The cognitive theories of larning allege that persons differ in their rational abilities because of the developmental phase they are in and their interaction with the environment. These theories further assert that cognitive growing and development are characterized by steady patterned advance ( i. e. . from the simplest to the most complex ) .

Piaget`s theory of cognitive development has guided the sequencing of larning content ( cognition. accomplishments. procedures ) from the concrete to the abstract. and the choice of rating tools. It has besides facilitated the realistic scene of educational aims and intended larning results.

Skinner`s Behavioral Theory of Learning

Skinner ( 1953 ) developed the method of conditioning through what has been termed operant or instrumental conditioning. Operant conditioning involves voluntary behaviour emitted by the scholar which may be reinforced by its effect. In operant conditioning. whether a response occurs in the hereafter depends upon the nature of the eventuality. If a response makes life better for the person. it will probably happen in the hereafter. If it makes life worse. it will probably non happen once more in the hereafter. Therefore. operant conditioning makes usage of supports.

Anything that increases the likeliness that a behaviour will be repeated is referred to by the behaviourists as support. It is really of import to observe that the definition says nil about whether the pupil “likes” or “dislikes” the support ; whether it is intentionally given or non. or whether the behaviour in inquiry is the 1 desired.

In operant conditioning. when a pupil responds with a behaviour that is near to what is expected by the instructor. the latter delivers a positive reinforcing stimulus. Positive reinforcing stimuluss motivate the scholar to reiterate the behaviour with increased frequence. continuance. and strength. A reinforcing stimulus can be anything that the scholar may comprehend as reinforcing ( e. g. classs. oral/written citation ) .

Negative support on the other manus. is the procedure by which a response that leads to the remotion of an aversive event additions that response. Further. behavior alteration is a procedure of determining a person’s behaviour through the acquisition of new operants through a series of support and sequencing of coveted responses. It involves altering behaviour in a deliberate and predetermined manner by reenforcing those responses that are in the coveted waies.

A well-known behaviourist. B. F. Skinner. argues from an operant conditioning position that pupils must actively react if they are to larn. Cognitivists portion that position with Skinner ; nevertheless. they emphasize mental activity instead than physical activity. Harmonizing to the Cognitivists. if pupils control their ain cognitive procedure. it is finally the pupils themselves who decide what information will be learned and how.

A cardinal constituent of Piaget`s developmental theory of acquisition and thought is that both involve the engagement of the scholar. Knowledge is non simply transmitted verbally but must be constructed and reconstructed by the scholar. Piaget believes that for a kid to cognize and build cognition of the universe. s/he must move on objects. Learners must be active ; they are non vass to be filled with facts. Hence. a Piagetian course of study emphasizes a child-centered educational doctrine and active find acquisition environments.

Cognitive and behavioural theories of larning besides serve as a psychological foundation of the course of study. Following are some ways each theory can act upon the course of study development procedure:

Cognitive theory

  1. Learning experiences will be most effectual if they are adapted to the normal growing of the scholars ; demands. capacities. and involvements of the scholar.
  1. Learning experiences must be “designed to fit appraisal of age degrees on which certain procedures of idea can occur” ( Taba in Ornstein & A ; Hunkins. 1988 ) . Learning experiences for different pupils should be adapted to their phase of cognitive development.

Behavioral theory

  1. A motivated scholar learns more readily than one who is non.
  2. Thee is no replacement for insistent pattern in the acquisition of accomplishments.
  3. Information about the nature of good public presentation and cognition of errors and success

assistance acquisition.

  1. Meaningful undertakings and stuffs are more readily learned than nonsensical stuffs and those non understood by the scholar.
  1. Active engagement is preferred for inactive response.
  2. Learning has application and can be transferred to other state of affairss.

Since Piagetian course of study emphasizes a child-centered educational doctrine and active find acquisition environments. direction must be individualized every bit much as possible and kids are given chances to pass on with one another. to reason and debate issues. Further. the following are the four general rules of how the cognitive acquisition theory might act upon the instructional design procedure:

  1. If learning depends on how information is mentally processed. so students` cognitive procedure should be a major concern of pedagogues. Students` larning troubles can frequently be attributed to ineffective or inappropriate cognitive procedures. For illustration. handicapped kids procedure information less efficaciously than nondisabled kids. Teachers must go cognizant. non merely of what pupils learn but besides how they attempt to larn it.
  1. Educators must see students` degree of cognitive development when planning subjects and methods of direction. For illustration. accounts based on concrete operational logic are improbable to be effectual ways of showing thoughts to pre-operational kindergarten. Concrete operational simple school kids have trouble understanding abstract thoughts that do non bind up with their ain experiences. These pupils will larn more efficaciously if the same information is presented through concrete experiences prior to showing abstract stuff.
  1. Students organize the information they learn. So instructors can assist pupils larn by showing organized information and by assisting pupils see how one thing relates to another.
  1. New information is most easy acquired when people can tie in it with things they have learned. Therefore. instructors should assist pupils larn by demoing them how new thoughts relate to old 1s. When pupils are unable to associate new information to anything familiar. acquisition is likely to be slow and uneffective.

Theories of larning. such as the cognitive and behavioural theories serve as a psychological footing f the course of study. Hence. this great mass of theoretical and empirical information available to curriculum determination shapers sing the nature of the scholar and how learning takes topographic point. Answers to inquiries like: “What are the features. capablenesss. demands. and involvements of kids and the young person in the different phases of their development? ” provide the psychological foundation of a course of study. and serve to steer choice of course of study aims. content. learning experiences. rating strategy. and even the length of category Sessionss.

For illustration. concretion has to wait until college ( and merely for those who are so interested in mathematics that they pursue specialised preparation in the subject ) . Preparatory school mathematics is limited to the basic impressions of numeration and the relationships of numbers ( bigger/smaller0 and some really basic operations with the usage of concrete objects. such as beads. blocks. and sticks.

Essay trials are non given to preschool students. and so are test points that measure complex idea procedures and require long attending span. The length of category Sessionss per topic or class scope from a few proceedingss on the nursery degree to a twosome of hours in the alumnus school. Long talks will merely non work with the really immature scholars ; neither will leaping. hopping. and running entreaty to graduate pupils who might already be enduring from rheumatism. arthritis. or bosom jobs.

The acquisition theories. rules. and premises have influenced course of study development. most particularly in the pick of course of study content and learning experiences. Just like the different educational doctrines. the different theories of larning have their several strengths and restrictions. Course of study developers have to do their ain determinations as to which positions of larning they will see in be aftering the course of study.


Piaget. J. ( 1977 ) .The development of idea: Equilibrium of cognitive constructions. New York: Viking.

Skinner. B. F. ( 1953 ) .Science and human behavior. New York: Free Press.

Taba. H. ( 1988 ) . Curriculum development theory and pattern. New York: Harcourts Brace & A ; World.