Matrix Reflection: Week 7 Post

Learning Theory Blog Post Based Off of Learning Theory Matrix Assignment

Change on How I Learn

Previously, in the beginning, I thought I gravitated to a mix of all of the learning theories, which I do yet as I am now revisiting them all, I identify predominately with constructivism theory. I identify with being a creative learner. I learn from experience. I document my knowledge. When I learn, I experience; I associate meaning, and I re-organize and encode information. In addition, I make things as part of my learning process. I make products that showcase my learning and my interpretation of my learning. Therefore, I not only receive learning, but I give back by directly participating products of knowledge within the learning community at large. For me possibilities of learning are endless and always subject to change. To me this is growth and a deepening of insight. Learning is not just an act; it is a highly rewarding experience.

In regards to constructivism, Perkins (1991, p. 10) (As cited in Ertmer and Newby, 1993) states that “constructivists see “learning and understanding knowledge as ‘..a function of how the individual crates meaning from his or her own experiences’ Constructivism is not a totally new approach to learning.” .

Therefore, in constructivism Bednar et all (1991) (As cited in Ertmer and Newby, 1993) state that learning occurs by means of “equating learning with creating meaning from experience. (p. 62)

Jonassen (1991a) (As cited in Erdwin and Newby, 1993) explains that “constructivism is considered to be a branch of cognitivism (both conceive of learning as a mental activity), yet cognitivism distinguishes itself from traditional cognitive theories in a number of ways…Most cognitive psychologists think of the mind as a reference tool to the real world; constructivists believe that the mind filters input from the world to produce its own unique reality” (p. 62).

“Constructivists do not share with cognitivists and behaviorists the belief that knowledge is mind-independent and can be ‘mapped’ onto a learner. Constructivists do not deny the existence of the real world but content that what we know of the world stems from our own interpretations of our experiences. Humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it.

Since there are many possible meanings to glean from any experience, we cannot achieve a predetermined, “correct” meaning. Learners do not transfer knowledge from the external world into their memories; rather they build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions. Thus, the internal representation of knowledge is constantly open to change; there is not an objective reality that learners that learners strive to know. Knowledge emerges in contexts within which it is relevant. Therefore, in order to understand the learning which has taken place within an individual, the actual experience must be examined (Bednar et al,. 1991: As cited in Ertmer and Newby, 1993, p. 63).

This is where we see problem solving scenarios coming into play and being effective for learners. Yet what strikes me is that this type of learning expectation is advanced. I see it mainly applying to adult learners. It seems to be me that behaviorism does play a foundational necessity to simple learning processes. For example memorizing simple, straight forward information is necessary, like a person’s address and phone number. Behaviorism does have its place in the learning continuum. In addition, cognitive theory seems to be particularly useful for the learner taking responsibility for her/or his own learning. Cognitivism addresses the mindset and responsibility of a learner well. Then, constructivism lends itself to more advanced mental capabilities. It involves scenarios, critical thinking, and problem solving – all of which require the mind to be developed and fully operational. I am not saying that children cannot benefit from constructivism components. They most absolutely can. Yet, child learner will also need a foundation of behaviorism and cognitivism to provide them with strong foundational bases to spring forth from. Constructivism is more of a springing forth from kind of theory if you will. It allows the learner freedom to attain and assess knowledge as it is related to the learners experience both physical and conceptual.

Perhaps I am drawn to constructivism because I am an adult learner who already has a basic understanding of both behaviorism and cognitive learning theory methods. As an adult learner, with a fully developed adult brain and creative engagement, constructivism theory aligns with how I currently learn.

My understanding of how I relate to the learning theories has changed in that I am now more fully aware of why I identify mostly with constructivism theory. All of the learning theories are relevant and integral to the learning process, yet constructivism theory is conducive to an adult learner, such as myself, who is creative and enjoys making meaning and contributing products of learning to the world.

Learning Theories and Learning Styles That Explain My Personal Learning Preferences

I see all of the learning theories as being applicable, yet constructivism dominates my personal learning style and preferences. I have created a chart for you below in which I have documented my point of view on the usefulness of the various learning theories:

Learning Theory Usefulness
Behaviorism Foundation, structure, simple learning achievement
Cognitivism Learner centered: Developing a responsibility to ensure one’s own learning success and achievement.   Harnessing self-awareness of the importance of learning and why an individual learns the way the individual does and why specific information is useful to the learner. Acquiring specified learning strategies that work for an individual at a given place and time.
Constructivism Individual is allowed to assert and involve in a relationship with learning and the material being learned. An individual creates meaning and connects with information on her/his own terms according to her/his own unique experience via critical thinking, problem solving, and relating and assessing information with personal experience. The possibility for growth and change is always present. Learning evolves and grows.

It is important to note that “Both cognitivists and constructivists view the learner as being actively involved in the learning process, yet the constructivists look at the learner as more than just an active processor of information; the learner elaborates upon and interprets the given information (Duffy & Jonassen, 1991: As cited in Ertmer a& Newby, 1993, p. 66). This is an integral component as to how I view learning for both adults and children. I see all learners as not only receptors but to learning participants who involve directly in learning, produce products of learning, and directly contribute value to the learning community. This is one of my core values and fundamental beliefs as to how learning is successful.

Connectivism The new roles of technology and the immediacy of resource retrieval – as well as the great influence of social media has a lot to do with this theory coming into being. (Davis, Edmunds, and Kelly Bateman, 2012, para 2.). I use technology to learn from every day, Google search especially. I also engage in email, text messaging, Facebook, blogs, and websites, Linked In, Skype, and Hangout. I love the casual tones and the convenience and accessibility of all of these technological platforms. They make learning fun. There are many visuals that are aesthetically pleasing and bring joy to the eye. Also, to be able to connect with people I know immediately brings me joy.

“At its core, George Siemens’ theory of connectivism is the combined effect of three different components: chaos theory, importance of networks, and the interplay of complexity and self-organization” (Davis, Edmunds, and Kelly Bateman, 2012, para 3).

I experience chaos theory often when I write papers and provide instructional feedback on papers. Previously I thought it was how my mind worked – that is linked meaning and saw connections and patterns in otherwise unrelated topics. Yet, now I know it is an actual theory. It is something the human mind does naturally. The importance of networks does resonate with me. Linked In alone has done so much for professional networks. So many people find jobs via Linked In and stay connected with people professionally via Linked In. The technological platform, Linked In, has changed the way of connecting and relating professionally with people in my field. It has made connecting and staying up to date with people in my professional network so easy and efficient.

The interplay of self-organization is significant indeed. Through the internet, information can layered and layers. For example, I can have multiple windows open on my desktop and toggle back and forth between various modes of information. This can be energizing. Organizing information is integral to success however. Because information is now immediate, the expectations of rapid and immediate communications have increased. For example, if I do not get back to an email within 24 hours, I may receive a second email inquiring about a response. Therefore, email communications alone have to be maintained and organized let alone other means of digital information. Excel is a popular program that many use to organize and track information quickly.

Social Learning Theory Learning by means of a role model comes from this theory. My parents and teachers have played a significant role in my learning journey. By watching what they do well and what they do not do well, I have interpreted and made choices in regards to my actions in the world around me.

Not only is “learning by doing” effective, but learning by observation and learning by seeing is highly effective for many learners, especially adult learners.

Adult Learning As an adult learner, I relate to the Learning Principles described in adult learning theory:

“Principles:

  • Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction
  • Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities
  • Adults are most interested in learning about subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life
  • Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented” (Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith, 2003, p.2

As an adult learner, Experiential learning is a style and or theory that speaks to me. In graduate school, one of my professors identified me as an experiential learner. “Experiential learning is a learning theory that is learner-centered and operates on the premise that individuals learn best by experience. A good way to describe this theory is ‘learning by doing.’ Experiential learning thus has the learner directly involved with the material being studied instead of just thinking and talking about that material” (Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith, 2003, p. 6) I can relate to this theory. I want to be involved and experience what I am learning first hand whether it be physically or cognitively.)

Also, I can relate to action learning: Action learning: Adults learning in various business settings… Project work, learning communities, etc…”O’Neil, 200, p.44: As cited in Conlan, Grabowski, and Smith, 2003, p. 5 As in instructor teaching an English course at a local university, I used action learning for a real life project, and I was directed by the English department to do so. They did not call it action learning at the time, but now I know that is what it was and now I know where the formula came from. All in all, it was effective, yet getting my students motivated was challenging at first. They did not want to take on the amount of work that the project consisted of. Yet, the structure in the long run was highly effective, and the students did seem to connect with is and see its value through the process.

·         TEAL (2011) state that in regards to adult learners instructional designers and instructors should: “incorporate more writing in more contexts in the adult education setting to promote self-reflection and articulation of learning. Use ungraded, short and timed prompts such as ‘quick writes,’ ‘entry/exit slips, or ‘yesterday’s news,’ Writing is a natural means of self-reflection, and sharing personal writing is a way to bring stories of personal challenge, growth, resilience, and dreams into dialogue.

·         Engage adult new writers with online communities of writers, as contributors, readers, and peers, to foster their self-directed learning, self-study, and persistence.

·         Provide feedback that challenges learners’ assumptions and deepens their critical thinking” (TEAL teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy, 2011, p. 3).

Therefore, the role of memory is that of an activated doer… Adult students connect with the learning material via writing and associating the material with themselves and their experience. Reflection is a key component in that is allows the adult learner to connect meaning and process the learning. I can personally relate to this. I love writing, reflecting, processing, developing a relationship to the material I am learning, and processing it. I am naturally drawn to this process and feel as though I always have been – even before I was an adult – when I was a child.

Role of Technology in My Learning

Technology does not just play a role in my learning; it is a learning tool I depend on. Mainly, I use Google and Google Scholar to search information daily. Google search engines have proven to be a reliable and dependable program when critical thinking skills are employed. For example, knowing how to evaluate websites, blogs, electronic journals, etc. for credibility is integral in receiving quality information. Knowing how to use key word searches and being able to brainstorm key words quickly makes searching for information fast. It takes so much longer to locate to a library or other building that holds information and then find specified information on a book shelf. Going to libraries and performing hand held book searches is still a viable and well utilized method of attaining information; it is just time consuming. Because my life is filled to the brim with responsibilities I must prioritize and uphold, saving time is powerful in my life. Technological searches provide convenient access to good quality information. In a fast paced world where high expectations and demands are the norm, convenience provides relief and becomes something I depend on. In addition, I record and create in Microsoft Word program daily. I write documents and provide instructional feedback on scholarly documents daily. Microsoft Word has come to be a program I depend on. A big part of my job takes place within the boundaries of the Microsoft Word forum. Outlook is another technological program I depend on regularly. I use Outlook for my work email and calendar. Outlook serves as a communication tool, a social connection forum, and an organizational method I look to and live in daily. In addition, Skype for Business is a new technological forum that my company has just started to utilize. I specifically like Skype for the live video capability. Connecting with a co-worker in real time via video is much more rewarding and real, which deepens my communication experience with whoever I am connecting with. Being able to hear, see, and talk verbally and in writing to an individual allows for more senses to be employed at once. This is why the Skype video forum provides so much more learning fulfillment than say email. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy a good email just as much as the next person, and even see an art to the email forum. It is just that email, because of the sole nature of written communication, can be limiting.

I would like to acquire more design technology skills. I would like to be able to design websites and instructional design platforms. I know this learning is coming. I would like to learn design technologies that allow for visually aesthetically pleasing platforms, video streaming, and live communications. I welcome recommendations, ideas, and inputs.

Thank you

References

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71

Step by Step Montessori (1993). Step by step Montessori schools our programs. [Website]. Retrieved from: http://www.stepbystepmontessori.com/montessori-classroom

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

McLead, S. (2011). Bandura-social learning theory. [Website]. Retrieved from: http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K.. (2003). Adult Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/

TEAL Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (2011). TEAL center fact sheet no.11: Adult learning theories. [Web PDF]. Retrieved from: . https://teal.ed.gov/sites/default/files/Fact-Sheets/11_%20TEAL_Adult_Learning_Theory.pdf

LINCS Literacy Information and Communication System (2012). Use technology effectively. [Website]. Retrieved from: http://lincs.ed.gov/programs/teal/guide/technology

]. Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/

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