SPECIFIC REFLECTION 4
THEORIES OF LEARNING
Name and describe one theory of learning
that resonates strongly and positively with you.
Explain why it appeals to you and give an
a) how this may potentially impact your work
with students, and;
b) how students may work in your classroom
in relation to this theory.
Theory Of Learning
Lev Vygotsky, the father of social
constructivism , argued that 'all
cognitive functions are products
of social interactions and that
learning was not simply the
assimilation and accommodation
of new knowledge by learners
but the process by which
learners were integrated into a
He believed that cultural and
social context played an
important part in learning and
that these influences support a
discovery model of learning.
Vygotsky also emphasised the role of language and
culture as the frameworks through which humans
experience, communicate, and understand reality.
Ausubel (1968, p.vi in McGee, 2008, p. 30) states
that...'The most important single factor influencing
learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this
This is relevant to me as I believe learning happens
before a child starts school and this 'knowledge' is the
catalyst of future learning.
In social constructivism....
✔ Learning happens at the level of potential
development (zone of proximal development);
✔ It comprises cognitive structures that will mature
with teachers' guidance and peer collaboration;
✔ Learning is continuously “constructed” through the
learners' experience and reflection.
NZC And Social Constructivism
Social constructivist learning theory is reflected in the
New Zealand Curriculum (2007).
The curriculum statements in science, mathematics and
social studies has strong emphasis on 'context for
learning' (learners' real-life world); cultural diversity; and
accommodating 'learning for all' (Barker in McGee 2008
How Will Social Constructivism
Impact My Teaching
Bruning et al. explain, 'The aim of
teaching, from a constructivist
perspective, is not so much to transmit
information, but rather to encourage
knowledge formation and metacognitive
processes for judging, organizing, and
acquiring new information'.(TKI)
Based on this premise, I have outlined
how social constuctivism impacts my
Learning is constructed
My students are not blank slates
or empty vessels waiting to be
filled with knowledge.
As a teacher I am not the 'expert'
knowledge transfer station as
this picture depicts. My role is to
help my students construct
knowledge rather than to
I will adopt a teaching style that
will allow my students to interact,
discuss and express their ideas
with their classmates
persuasively yet respecting each
others' views and ideas.
Learning is active and inquiry-based
My students will learn to formulate
and test their ideas, draw
conclusions and inferences, and
gather and present their knowledge
in a collaborative learning
My students set their own goals and
actively involved in assessing their
work through discussion with me.
I will prompt my students to think
and reflect by asking questions.
I will encourage them to talk to me
about what they have discovered in
their learning, and to re-reflect on
the problem if they need a clearer
picture of the concept.
My role as a facilitator who coaches,
mediates, prompts, and helps
students develop and assess their
understanding and learning through
Learning is collaborative
My students will be encouraged to
learn in a collaborative environment.
They are actively using experiments
and problem solving techniques to
reflect on the new knowledge that
they are constructing through group
work, discussion with their peers
and using their peers as a source of
I will use cooperative learning in my
classroom. I will organise my
students in groups of four or five
with mixed level of competence.
Each group member is responsible
in helping each others' learning.
Learning is evolving
Learning is happening in a 'social
environment', therefore students need to
connect with what they already know to
what they are learning.
And this is constantly reinforced with
both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
and input to assist their learning.
To promote successful learning in my
students, I have to provide a learning
environment where they are constantly
motivated by me, their peers as well as
themselves and the community.
This could be as simple as positive
feedback, rewards, certificates, or
Learning is reflective
A safe and effective classroom
environment will encourage my students
to reflect on their own learning process.
I want them to take control of their own
learning through discussion with me or in
I will ensure that I provide an
environment in which my students will
feel safe to question and reflect on their
Perhaps I could encourage my students
to record their thoughts and feelings
about their learning process in a journal
and discuss this with them on a regular
This allows me to assess how, why and
what to consider when planning my
Social Constructivist Classroom
My students are not empty vessels
First and foremost my students will not be empty vessels waiting to be
filled with 'expert knowledge'.
My students will learn to assess their own learning through self-
reflection, and through discussion with peers and me.
They will construct knowledge and meanings through peer interactions
and connection to the real world by participating actively in the
They will learn to share information with peers, make decisions and
assumed responsibilities for their learning goals.
They will learn to link classroom learning and their daily lives and the
My students work as community of
My students will work as a community of learners by acquiring teamwork
skills as they will work in pairs and groups of varying competence.
My students will learn to accept the diversity each team member brings
to the group and consider it as a rich form of resources to be used in the
They will be respectful of the cultural differences and experiences that
people bring to the classroom.
This cooperative learning among my students will engage them in higher
thinking process as they learn to problem solve.
My students develop interpersonal
My students need to develop inter-personal and intrapersonal skills.
My students will allow each member of the group to have their say.
They will also learn to respect and help each other.
My students will learn to communicate effectively and express their
thoughts and ideas clearly with supported evidence.
I expect social constructivism learning theory will transform my students
from being passive recipients of information to active participants in the
learning process through my guidance as a teacher and interaction with
By incorporating social constructivism in my classroom, I expect to
constantly encourage students to assess their understanding by
encouraging them to ask questions and reflecting on their experiences.
My students take on an active role in their learning process and work as a
Barker, M, (2008). 'How do people learn? Understanding the
learning process'. In: McGee, C and Fraser, D (ed), The
professional practice of teaching. 3rd ed. New Zealand: Cengage