Learning TheoryDr Linda RushVice Dean, Teacher Education
ObjectiveTo explore the theory underpinning the interaction between the teacher and learner in the classroom setting
Structure Explore the notion of interaction and mediationConsider learning theory associated with interactionPresent theoretical frameworks for reflecting on interaction in the classroom
Introducing interaction At its most simplest, interaction can be seen as reciprocal action, that is: a return made for something given, felt or shown – an interactive exchange allowing a two-way flow of information The centrality of importance of interaction was taken up by some sociologists and some psychologists who call themselves symbolic interactionists’ Symbolic Interactionists posit the idea of two types of human interaction, symbolic and non- symbolic
Interaction and mediationOften the terms interaction and mediation are used synonymouslyTo mediate adds a qualitative dimension to interactionMediation can be viewed as an arrangement of actions and interactions
Types of interaction A teacher might interact with their class with a view to imparting new knowledge or they may interact to confront misconceptions being held on behalf of a learner. Alternatively they may interact with a view to encouraging and maintaining motivation.
Types of interaction Reed (1999) writes about forms of interaction such as appraisal and assessment. Within early years education there is general agreement about teachers interacting with their children (through questioning, modelling language, skills and behaviour) with a view to extending their learning.
Types of interaction A teachers intervention or mediation can be outside whereby the teacher is on the periphery of the learning going on, but providing comments or encouragement, or on the inside where the teacher takes on a role, joins in and models, maybe, language, skill or behaviour.
The relationship betweenlearning and development
Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theoryPiagets theory is based on the idea that the developing child builds cognitive structures - in other words, mental "maps," schemes, or networked concepts for understanding and responding to physical experiences within his or her environment.
Piagets four developmentalstagesSensorimotor stage (birth - 2 years old)Preoperational stage (ages 2-7)Concrete operations (ages 7-11)Formal operations (beginning at ages 11-15)
How Piagets theory impactson learningCurriculum - Educators must plan a developmentally appropriate curriculum that enhances their students logical and conceptual growth.Instruction - Teachers must emphasize the critical role that experiences - or interactions with the surrounding environment--play in student learning.
BehaviourismBehavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior.
Behaviourism - conditioning as auniversal learning process.Classic conditioning occurs when a natural reflex responds to a stimulus.Behavioral or operant conditioning occurs when a response to a stimulus is reinforced.
Criticisms of BehaviourismDoes not account for all kinds of learning, since it disregards the activities of the mindDoes not explain some learning - such as the recognition of new language patterns by young children - for which there is no reinforcement mechanismReinforced patterns of behaviour will alter with new information
How Behaviorism impactson learningIts positive and negative reinforcement techniques can be very effective - both in animals, and in treatments for human disorders such as autism and antisocial behavior. Behaviorism often is used by teachers, who reward or punish student behaviors.
Vygotsky’s socio-culuraltheoryThe social cognition learning model asserts that culture is the prime determinant of individual development.
Culture makes two sorts ofcontributions to a childs intellectualdevelopmentThrough culture children acquire much of the content of their thinking, that is, their knowledgeThe surrounding culture provides a child with the processes or means of their thinking, what Vygotskians call the tools of intellectual adaptation
Vygotsky’s socio-culuraltheoryA dialectical process – involving problem solving with more knowledgeable other (MKO)Language - primary form of interactionZone of proximal development (ZPD)ScaffoldingInternalisation
How Vygotsky’s socio-culturaltheory impacts on learningCurricula should be designed to emphasize interaction between learners and learning tasks.Role of ‘scaffolding’ - where the adult continually adjusts the level of his or her help in response to the childs level of performance--is an effective form of teachingAssessment – prospective, not retrospective!
Meaningful LearningMeaningful learning occurs when new ideas are incorporated into a structure of thought that has already been established by previous learning (see Bruner’s notion of a Spiral Curriculum)
Meaningful Learning: TwodimensionsThe degree of meaningfulnessThe mode of encounter.
Meaningful Learning: Threeconditions1.The material itself must be meaningful; it must make sense or conform to experience2.The learner must have enough relevant knowledge for the meaning in the material to be within their grasp.3. The learner must intend to learn meaningfully, that s/he must intend to fit the new material into what s/he already knows rather than to memorise from word to word