(22 January 1887 – 11 June
He was a German
Psychologist and phenomenologist who,
like Max Wertheimer, and Kurt Kofka,
contributed to the creation of Gestalt
During the Nazi regime in Germany, he
protested against the dismissal of Jewish
professors from universities, as well as
the requirement that professors give a
Nazi salute at the beginning of their
In 1935 he left the country for the
United States, where Swarthmore
College in Pennsylvania offered him a
professorship. He taught with its faculty
for 20 years, and did continuing
Max Wertheimer (April 15,
1880 – October 12, 1943)
He was an Austro-Hungarian-born
psychologist who was one of the three
founders of Gestalt psychology, along
with Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler.
Wertheimer obtained his PhD in 1904
under Oswald Kϋlper, and then began his
intellectual career teaching in Frankfurt.
For a short time he left Frankfurt to work
at the Berlin Psychological Institute, but
returned in 1929 as a full professor.
Wertheimer eventually ended up at the
New School for Social Research in New
York, a position he held until his death.
Max Wertheimer is known for his
work Productive Thinking, as well as his
idea of Phi Phenomenon. Both
contributed to his collaboration
on Gestalt Psychology.
Kurt Koffka (March 18,
1886 – November 22,
He was a German psychologist. He was
born and educated in Berlin. Along
with Max Wertheimer and his close
associates Wolfgang Köhler they
established Gestalt psychology. Koffka’s
interests were wide-ranging, and they
included: Perception, hearing impairments
in brain-damaged patients, interpretation,
learning, and the extension of Gestalt
theory to development psychology.
During the First World War, he worked for
the Military in a position that later lead him
to a Professorship in Experimental
psychology. In 1927, he accepted a position
at the Smith College in Norththamton,
Masschusetts where he remained until his
death in 1941 from Coronary thrombosis.
It is a school of psychology founded in the 20th century that
provided the foundation for the modern study of perception.
Gestalt theory emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater
than its parts. That is, the attributes of the whole are not
deducible from analysis of the parts in isolation. The
word Gestalt is used in modern German to mean the way a
thing has been “placed,” or “put together.” There is no exact
equivalent in English. “Form” and “shape” are the usual
translations; in psychology the word is often interpreted as
“pattern” or “configuration.”
Gestalt theory was the initial cognitive
response to behaviorism. It emphasized the
importance of sensory wholes and the
dynamic nature of visual perception.
The term Gestalt, means “form” or
Psychologists Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler
and Kurt Koffka who studied perception,
Learners were not passive, but rather
Learners do not just collect information as
is but they actively process and restructure
data in order to understand it.
Factors like past experiences, needs,
attitudes and one’s present situation can
affect their perception.
II. Gestalt Principles
According to the gestalt
psychologists, the way we form our
perceptions are guided by certain
principles or laws. These principles
or laws determine what we see or
make of things or situation.
Elements that look
similar will be
perceived as part
of the same form.
There seems to be
a triangle in the
square. We link
We tend to fill the
gaps or “close”
the figures we
enclose a space by
ignoring gaps in
Law of Good
Individuals have the
tendency to continue
the elements of the
pattern establish an
People tend to draw
a good continuous
Law of Good
The stimulus will be
organized into as good as
figure as possible. In this
example, good refers to
symmetry, simplicity, and
regularity. The figure is
perceive as a square
overlapping a triangle , not
a combination of several
complicated shapes. Based
on our experiences with
perception, we “expect”
certain patterns and
therefore perceive that
We tend to pay
perceive things in
first. A stimulus
will be perceived
as separate from
The idea of insight learning was first
developed by Wolfgang Kohler in which he
describes experiments with apes where the
apes could use boxes and sticks as tools to
III. Insight Learning
In each of these problems, the important aspect of learning was not
reinforcement, but the coordination of thinking to create new
organization (of material. Kohler referred to this behavior as insight
or discovery learning.
Kohler proposed the view that insight follows from the
characteristics of objects under consideration.
His theory suggested that learning could occur when an individual
perceives the relationships of the elements before him and
reorganizes these elements and comes to a greater understanding or
Learning could occur without reinforcement, and once it occurs, no
review, training, or investigation necessary.
Kurt Lewin’s Theory
An individual has inner and outer forces
that affect his perceptions.
Inner forces include his own motivation,
attitudes, and feelings.
Outer forces may include the attitude
and behavior of the teacher and
Lewin (September 9, 1890
– February 12, 1947)
He was a German
known as one of the
modern pioneers of social,
organizational, and applied
psychology in the United
Lewin is often recognized
as the "founder of social
psychology" and was one of
the first to study group
dynamics and organization
Relevance of Gestalt Psychology to education
according to Marion Polito.
Gestalt psychology is focused on the experience of contact that occurs in
the here and now.
It takes interest in the complexity of experience, without neglecting
anything, but accepting and amplifying all that emerges.
It stimulates learning as experience and the experience as a source of
Knowledge is conceived as a continuous organization and rearrangement
of information according to needs, purposes and meanings.
Autonomy and freedom of the student is stimulated by the teacher.
The contact experience between the teachers and students is given value:
an authentic meeting based on sharing ideas and affections.
Gestalt is a theory of learning that focuses on the
minds perspective. It is useful as a behavioral tool as
it enables the teacher to channel the pupil’s energy
into thinking of an item or subject as parts of a
whole, e.g. a car, being metal, paint, wheels etc. By
thinking of components and breaking down a
situation it enables for a more psychological process
to take place and over time will broaden a pupils
mind into thinking of the sum of the whole rather
than just a complete thing of situation.
Facilitating Learning: A Meta Cognitive Process
Lucas and Corpuz (Pages 106 – 109)