Going into this course, I had not previously spent much time thinking about learning theories, or, more specifically, how I learn. After reading Ertmer and Newby’s (1993) chapter on Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism I had a much better idea of what exactly a learning theory is, what each entails, and how a person could get grouped into one or more of the theories. In addition to gaining an understanding, this article also raised questions for me; there were a few things that were very surprising to learn.
Once we began touching upon the many theories, I was surprised to find out how similar they are in some aspects. I suppose I expected them to all be so different from one another. However, the newer theories are built off of the older theories, so it makes sense that they would have similar characteristics. I don’t think we can categorize every person into one learning theory. Kumar and Rattan (2012) touch on this topic by saying, “None of the learning theories can completely define the learning process in its entirety. Rather depending on the context in which learning is occurring and the goal of learning, a theory takes predominance.” I was also surprised that there is a relatively new learning theory that so perfectly matches the way many people learn today. I can’t speak for everyone, but I like to conduct my own research on the Internet as well as talk to people and hear what they have to say. I love that everything we rely on, such as “prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility” came together to create the Connectivism theory (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).
I know I’ve mentioned it many times throughout the course, but I studied secondary education in undergrad. Of course, when planning on getting a teaching degree, generally the focus is on adolescents. We didn’t focus much on adult learning theories, so I found that section of this course to be informative. I’ve already been able to put that knowledge to use in my job, and I know that my work has been more effective since beginning this program. After learning that adult learners are usually self-motivated and interested in the topic, I realized that this makes a huge difference in absorbing the information. I reflected upon how as a younger student I was less interested, had less life experience to relate my learning to, and couldn’t remember as much of what I’d learned. I chose to begin this master’s program, and now at the close of my second course I have yet to forget the information I’ve learned. I’ve connected the readings and topics brought up in discussions to my own life, I’ve found the readings interesting, and I stuck to the schedule I set for myself (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003). It’s safe to say I fall into the category of being an adult learner. In addition to this, as I mentioned before, I realized that I also fit the description of a connectivist learner perfectly. Much self-reflection has taken place for me during this course, and I have a better understanding of how I learn.
With each type of learning theory, learning style, and student, it can be difficult to cater to each type of learner. All of these categories can span across one another. Auditory learners can fall into any learning theory, and behaviorists and connectivists could both be kinesthetic learners. Instructors and designers do have tools available to them to create instruction that will appeal to every type of learner. Also, using Keller’s (1999) ARCS model, designers can keep every type of learner interested and provide motivation for them to be successful. I’ve found the ARCS model to be invaluable as a resource.
I will be able to use everything I’ve learned in this course in my career as an instructional designer. Currently in my job, I only work with the design team to edit their training. My ultimate goal is to become a designer, but even still, I have been able to propose ideas based on what I’ve learned in this course that they had not thought of. I’ve been able to already put this knowledge into practice and I am not yet a designer. I already have the necessary tools to put together effective training, and I cannot wait until the day I get to use them.
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 50‐72.
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).
Kumar, L., & Rattan, A. (2012). Compare and contrast various learning theories. Larks Learning Blog. Retrieved from http://larkslearning.com/blog/compare-and-contrast-various-learning-theories/