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Learning Theories




Major Theorists Ivan Pavlov Edward Thorndike John Watson B.F. Skinner (Ornstein, 2016)

Major Theorists Maria Montessori Jean Piaget Lawrence Kohlberg Howard Gardner Benjamin Bloom Lev Vygotsky (Ornstein, 2016)

Major Theorists Hilda Taba Jerome Bruner Phil Phenix Gail Inlow (Ornstein, 2016)

How Learning Occurs

Learning occurs when people create meaning from their experiences. The person's mind takes in their environment to create meaning that is unique to the individual. Knowledge is constantly evolving depending on what is relevant to that person (Ertmer, 2013).

Types of Learning

  • anchoring learning in meaningful context
  • learner actively uses what is learned to manipulate information
  • problem solving
  • transfer of knowledge and skills
(Ertmer, 2013)

How Learning Occurs

Learning occurs when teachers create an environment in which the conditions are optimal for students to produce the desired behaviors. When this is not being achieved teachers must adjust the conditions and stimuli being used. It's important that teachers provide frequent feedback and special reinforcer and rewards to help motivate students (Ornstien, 2016).

Role of Memory

IMemory is not often focused on in Behaviorism. Habit forming is the main focus and the way in which these habits are stored or recalled to be used does not receive much attention. When information is forgotten, it is believed that the cause of this is from lack of use over time (Ertmer, 2013).

Types of Learning

  • Strategies to build stimulus-response associations
  • Repetition and practice
  • instructional cues
  • recalling facts
  • defining concepts
  • automaticity
  • verbal association
(Ornstien, 2016) (Ertmer, 2013)

How Learning Occurs

Learning occurs when students are able to receive, organize, store, and retrieve information. It is a mental process that entails internal coding and structuring by the student (Ertmer, 2013). Learning should be meaningful to the students. Students are able to grasp information within a subject and transfer it to other areas of learning (Ornstein, 2016).

Role of Memory

Memory stores learned information in an organized and meaningful way. Teachers help students learn how to organize information in a way that is most beneficial to the student. When information is forgotten, it is due to a disruption in the organization that does not allow the person to access the needed information (Ertmer, 2013).

Role of Memory

Memory is always developing and changing . Constructivist focus on the learners ability to use prior knowledge to create new understanding. Memory is not for merely recalling factual information, but to be utilized as a tool to elaborate and interpret information (Ertmer, 2013).

​​Major Characteristics ​​​In Behaviorism, learning is transferred from the teacher to student through stimuli designed to elicit a desired response. Positive reinforcement and repetition is key to learning (Western Governs University, 2020). Motivation is an important factor in Behaviorism and can be achieved though positive or negative reinforcement. Both types of reinforcement can create a sense of satisfaction which leads to strengthened connections. If too much discomfort occurs this could weaken the connections (Ornstein, 2016).

​​Major CharacteristicsCognitivists are interested in the amount of knowledge a person has as well as the process in which they organize that knowledge. They focus on processes such as problem solving, language, and information processing (Ertmer, 2013). They take into consideration the stages of development as well multiple intelligences (Ornstien, 2016). People are actively involved in their learning.

Types of Learning

  • reasoning
  • problem solving
  • information processing
  • analysis
(Ertmer, 2013)

​​Major CharacteristicsConstructivism focuses on how an individual thinks rather than what they think or what knowledge they have. The person is actively involved in the process of thinking and learning and are aware of how they obtain and use knowledge. Learners build their own knowledge and understanding based on the interaction they have with their environment. Knowledge is always changing with new experiences (Ornstein, 2016).