Perspectives on Teaching, Learning, and Technology. A guide to navigate the mystique of educational paradigms, theories and models by Dianna Hayden.
Educational theory is a confusing topic. Years of discussion and analysis by scholars has blurred the lines between paradigms, perspectives and theories. Theories and theorists can rarely be isolated to a single beginning thought. Typically theories emerge from collections of thought across vast categories. This presentation will allow me to practice defining these ideas and to understand the roots of educational practice today.
To begin, we must first understand that a paradigm is simply a school of thought created from concepts, values and assumptions that a certain sect of society hold true. Theories are ideas that sprout from paradigms and lead to discussions on their validity and how they can potentially improve practice.
The philosophical roots of the paradigms and theories I will be discussing include Objectivism, the idea that reality exists outside the individual; realism, a branch of objectivism that considers reality separate from the mind, rationalism, the idea that reason is the principle source of knowledge, Empiricism, the thought that knowledge is gained from experiences, Idealism, the idea that reality is mental; relativism, the thought that points of view have no absolute truth, their value depends on perception and consideration and finally pragmatism, the idea that knowledge is derived from interaction s of individuals and their environments and this interaction creates reality.
From a psychological standpoint, the following perspectives are important: Behaviorism, or the idea that behaviors can be conditioned; cognitivism, the idea that the brain builds a framework that facilitates learning; constructivism, the branch that focuses on a human’s ability to construct new knowledge based on experience; sociocultural/historicism, the perspective that emphasizes the relationships and processes that occur between an individual and society, and situativity, the focus on an individual’s cognition and its relationship to the role of that individual in a community.
A plethora of paradigms and theories have been developed from the previous psychological and philosophical perspectives. My focus will be on the paradigms of Objectivism, Constructivism, and the Eclecticism.
The idea of behaviorism has developed from the objectivist paradigm.
Behaviorists focus on conditioning behaviors to elicit responses. The ideas of respondent learning, Skinner’s operant conditioning, and observational learning all emerge from the idea of behaviorism.
Respondent learning, also called classical conditioning, is the idea that a neutral stimulus can elicit a positive response through association with positive reinforcement.
B.F. Skinner’s idea of operant conditioning tells us that when a behavior is positively reinforced, it becomes more frequent. When a teacher recognizes a student’s hard work, he or she is providing positive reinforcement to attempt to elicit that behavior more frequently.
Many ideas have been put into practice because of the theory of behaviorism. Programmed instruction, direct instruction, computer assisted instruction and personalized system of instruction are all ideas used in education based on the stimulus-response design. These examples provide a direct link between behaviorism and education technology.
Cognitivism is a theory that has its roots in both objectivist and constructivist thought.
Cognitivists focus on organization of human thought and how this organization facilitates learning. Work by Piaget reinforced this theory. Cognitivism has also lead to the Information Processing Theory, and the Schema Theory, as well as the Gestalt Perspective.
Piaget’s research let him to conclude that children build intellectual frameworks based on their experiences. When children do this, Piaget called it assimilation. When contradictions in their frameworks occurred, they changed the framework. This, Piaget called accommodation.
Gestalt psychology focuses on learning in terms of the “wholeness” of the problem. Individuals do not respond to a single stimulus, but instead respond to the organization of multiple stimuli. The Gestalt perspective focuses on the organization and construction of information based on elements gathered through visual and auditory means. This perspective was very popular during the earlier days of audiovisual learning.
The Schema Theory along with its subsidiaries presents the idea that long term memory organizes and stores information in a more abstract form than our short-term or “working” memory.
Constructivism is the second paradigm I will discuss.
Constructivists believe that humans construct new knowledge based on their own experiences. Works by Vygotsky, Driscoll, and again, Piaget, all find their origins in the constructivist theory. Anchored Instruction and Collaborative Learning in educational practice both developed due to this school of thought.
The idea of anchored instruction was created by The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. This form of instruction gave educators media that were meant to create complex environments for the students to navigate by using problem solving. These materials were not meant to lecture, they were meant to enhance and create a learning environment from which new knowledge could be constructed. Education technology plays a huge role in this model of anchored instruction.
Vygotsky’s research led him to observe that the mental connections developed by children often resulted from social interactions with adults. These interactions led children to construct knowledge of their culture, place in society, and place in the family.
Collaborative learning is a result of work by Vygotsky and Driscoll in constructivism. Today, classroom teachers use collaboration to encourage students to participate in discussion, problem solving, and inquiry-based activities. Much of this collaboration happens through the magic of computers. Telecollaboration is a great example of the blending of constructivism and education technology.
The final paradigm I will discuss is called Eclecticism or the Eclectic Paradigm.
Eclecticism is the place where many different theories merge. The eclecitc paradigm allows educators to consider many different theories for instruction and learning. The truth is, teachers need all of these ideas in order to teach the myriad of students they meet each day. Not one theory can be a catch-all for all instruction and learning. Fortunately, educational theories are just as diverse as the students that we teach.
Perspectives on teaching, learning and technology
Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Technology Navigating the mystique of educational paradigms, theories and models
The Basics <ul><li>Paradigm – a set of concepts, values, and assumptions that directs the thought processes of a community </li></ul><ul><li>Theory – an idea or concept that is proposed based on previous knowledge </li></ul>
A Focus on Theories Behaviorism Operant Conditioning Respondent Learning Observational Learning Behaviorists focus on conditioning behaviors to elicit responses (Orenstein & Hunkins, 2004, p101 ). Skinner
A Focus on Models Respondent Learning Respondent Learning, or classical conditioning, is the idea that a neutral stimulus can elicit a positive response through association with positive reinforcement.
A Focus on Models Operant Conditioning A behavior that is reinforced, becomes more frequent . Skinner
A Focus on Practice Direct Instruction Computer Assisted Instruction Personalized System of Instruction Operant Conditioning Programmed Instruction
A Focus on Paradigms Objectivism Constructivism Eclecticism
A Focus on Theories Objectivism Constructivism Cognitivism
A Focus on Theories Cognitivism Cognitivists focus on organization of human thought and how this organization facilitates learning. Piaget Gestalt Perspective Information Processing Theory Schema Theory
A Focus on Models Piaget Children organize knowledge based on experience through assimilation and accommodation.
A Focus on Models Gestalt Perspective Individuals respond to the organization of multiple stimuli.
A Focus on Models Schema Theory Our long-term memory organizes information in a more abstract manner than our short-term memory.
A Focus on Paradigms Objectivism Constructivism Eclecticism