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Learning Theories

Joliece ReedGrand Canyon University: EDU-522Brent M. HodgesNovember 22, 2023

Table of Contents

Page 3------- Sociocultural Learning TheoryPage 9------- Connectivism Learning TheoryPage 15----- Adult Learning TheoryPage 21------Works Cited Page

Sociocultural Learning Theory

Major Theorist


Types of Learning


How Learning Occurs

John B. WatsonAmerican Psychologist

B.F. SkinnerAmerican Psychologist

Major Theorists of Behavoiorism

Both psychologists saw the need to describe how learning can occur through objective observations and data collection (Western Governors University [WGU], 2020a). Another contributor to this theory is Ivan Pavlov, whose famous experiment “Pavlov’s Dog” helps to enforce the behaviorism theory.

( John Watson, 2016)

(B.F. Skinner, n.d.)

Characteristics of Behaviorism

Positive reinforcement is one of the biggest characteristics of this theory. Another example is motivation and that includes positive and negative motivation (2020a). Repetition is another characteristic because doing a skill over and over to get a reinforcement, or a punishment to enforce or eliminate to get a desired behavior.

The Role of Memory in Behavoriorism

Memory retention is the brain’s ability to recall information over time. The more opportunities the brain is given to retrieve newly learned skills and concepts, the more these skills and concepts will work into short-term and/or long-term memories. Long-term retention of information can be achieved through practices of retrieval (Morano, 2019). Since one of the major characteristics is repetition coupled with a reinforcement, the repetition will help to increase memory recall and be stored into long-term memory.

How Learning Occurs Behavoriorism

When a stimulus from the environment is presented to a learner, the learner will react with a response that will then be reinforced or punished (Clark, 2018). Repeatedly introducing the stimulus so that the wanted response occurs is when learning has occurred. The behavioral experiment, Pavlov’s Dog, done by Ivan Pavlov is one of the most widely known learning processes related to the behaviorism theory.

Type of Learning Best Associated

Behaviorism is best taught in a teacher-directed environment where emphasis is placed on changing a behavior. Many school districts across the United States are using the PBIS behavior model. The school district I teach uses this model to help reinforce positive behaviors. One way we manage this at the middle school is giving points to students who met the classroom expectations for the day. Our school goal is to give students one point per day, per class. Then once a week, students can cash in their points at the school store.

Connectivism Learning Theory

Major Theorist


Types of Learning


How Learning Occurs

Major Theorist of Cognitivism Theory

Jean PiagetSwiss Child Psychologist

Piaget is considered the psychologist who taught us about the development of how we think beginning in childhood. Further, his teachings also describe how the brain processes and organizes the input of information which changes with each new development of the child (Cohen, 2016). Piaget described there are four main stages of development in children.

( Jean Piaget, n.d.)

Major Charactersitics of Cognitivism

The two biggest characteristics of cognitivism are assimilation and accommodation. This happens when children add new information to stored knowledge (assimilate) then they make modifications to their existing knowledge (accommodate) (Berkeley Graduate Division, n.d.).

Role of Memory in Cognitivism

Cognitivism helps to enhance retention and transfer of information. A learner will use the recall of information (retention) when first exploring their unfamiliar environment and living through a new experience. Memory transfer is the brain’s ability to take stored information from short- or long-term memory and apply it to a new concept, skill, or format. Teachers can promote memory transfer by finding diverse ways to tie-in the concepts to being relevant for the student (Jensen, 2020).

How Learning Occurs According to Cognitivism

Schemas are developed because of assimilations and accommodations (Cohen, 2016). Students will take what they already know to exist and make accommodations to the schema once the added information has been presented. With the cognitivist theory, students can assimilate the information learned by enhancing different strategies to help their memory such as paraphrasing the information in their own words which helps to take new ideas and add it to the existing information.

Type of Learning Best Expained by Cognitivism

Because the cognitive learning theory focuses on how the brain processes new information, visual and auditory cues can be best for these learners. Some other strategies for these learner types is to chunk the information being learned and only giving the immediate necessary information. Examples of this might look like being able to decode words before reading longer sentences, or knowing basic math facts before introducing more complex aspects of algebra.

Adult Learning Theory

Major Theorist


Types of Learning


How Learning Occurs

Major Theorists of Constructivism

John Dewy, Lev Vigotsky, and Cognitivist Jean Piaget are leading proponents of Constructivist theory in dealing with the psychological development of children. These men asserted that humans construct their own knowledge and that reality is subjective as a result. As a result, students must learn how to learn (Hein, 1991).

John DewyAmericanPsychologist/Philosopher

Lev VygotskySoviet RussianPsychologist

( Hein, 1999)

( Hein, 1999)

Major Characteristics of Constructivism

Constructivism asserts that students construct their own knowledge, meaning that learning is entirely personal and individually developed. Consequently, learning cannot be passive if it is actively constructed by the subject. Assimilation and accommodation are the most important elements within Constructivism. Assimilation refers to subjects using new information to add on to existing schema. However, accommodation refers to subjects actively acquiring information to either develop or redevelop schema (University at Buffalo, n.d.)

Role of Memory in Constructivism

The theory of Constructivism suggests that memory is constantly being reconstructed, reconsidered, and manipulated because of the active acquisition of knowledge (Minnesota State University, n.d.). Like the function of memory in the cognitivism theory, the function of the hippocampus is essential to retaining information for memory. In the Ted Ed video about the hippocampus, lesson creator, Sam Kean shares how recall of information over the course of the next few days following, will travel from the hippocampus to the cortex, eventually moving the information to the cortex for long-term storage (Kean & Bogaty).

"What happens when you remove the hippocampus?" Ted Ed Video

Role of Memory in Constructivism

The theory of Constructivism suggests that memory is constantly being reconstructed, reconsidered, and manipulated because of the active acquisition of knowledge (Minnesota State University, n.d.). Like the function of memory in the cognitivism theory,

How Learning Occurs According to Constructivism

Unlike other theories, Constructivism asserts that learning is not a passive process that can occur by accident. Rather, students must be engaged in order to learn. This also suggests that advanced, active learning is a social process that must be taught in order for students to build their own knowledge without constant, direct support. Consequently, Constructivist proponents assert that educators must provide experiences in order to ensure that students are constructing knowledge (University at Buffalo, n.d.).

Types of Learning Best Explained by Constructvism

Constructivism best uses student-centered learning, and teachers only help to facilitate the learning (WGU, 2020). This may take different forms like using student interests and discussions to create learning explorations. A good example of using a consturctivism theory in the classroom would be a science lab explorationwhere students are justifying and reasoning the new information to their background knowledge.

  • Berkeley Graduate Division. (n.d.). Cognitive constructivism. Graduate Student Instructor Teaching Resource Center. https://gsi.berkeley.edu/gsi-guide-contents/learning-theory-research/cognitive-constructivism/
  • B.F Skinner (n.d.) B.F. Skinner [Photograph]. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6313327/?ref_=nmbio_ov_i.
  • Clark, K. R. (2018). Learning Theories: Behaviorism. Radiologic Technology, 90(2), 172–175.
  • Cohen, L. (2016). JEAN PIAGET. In Handy Answer: The Handy Psychology Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from https://search.credoreference.com/articles/Qm9va0FydGljbGU6NDIwNjI3Mg==?aid=96349.
  • Hein, G. E. (1991, October 22). Constructivist Learning Theory. Exploratorium. https://www.exploratorium.edu/education/ifi/constructivist-learning
  • Jean Piaget (n.d). Jean Piaget [Photograph]. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Piaget
  • Jensen, E., & McConchie, L. (2020). Brain-based learning: Teaching the way students really learn (3rd ed.). SAGE Publications.
  • John Watson (2016). John Watson [Photograph]. Empower Community. https://empowercommunityhealth.files.wordpress.com/20.
  • Kean, S., & Bogaty, A. (n.d.). What happens when you remove the hippocampus? Ted Ed. Australian Academy of Science. https://www.science.org.au/curious/video/hippocampus.
  • Minnesota State University. (n.d.). Learning Theories: Constructivism. Cornerstone Library. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1138&context=all
  • Morano, S. (2019). Retrieval practice for retention and transfer. Teaching Exceptional Children, 51(6), 436–444. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/0040059919847210
  • University at Buffalo. (n.d.). Constructivism. https://www.buffalo.edu/catt/develop/theory/constructivism.html#:~:text=Constructivism%20is%20the%20theory%20that,%2Dexisting%20knowledge%20(schemas).
  • Western Governors University. (2020a, May 29). What is the behavioral learning theory? https://www.wgu.edu/blog/what-behavioral-learning-theory2005.html
  • Western Governors University. (2020b, May 30). Five educational learning theories. https://www.wgu.edu/blog/five-educational-learning-theories2005.html

Works Cited