One thing I found striking as I progressed through this course (EDUC-6115-5 Learning Theories and Instruction) is that there really isn’t one learning theory that is the most correct or true. Although theories have evolved from Behaviorism to Cognitivism to Constructivism and then on to social learning theories and Connectivism, there is merit in all of these. Even more interesting was the discovery that it is important to match learning theories with the type of learning that is to take place, such as how Kapp (2007) describes:
I suggest that lower level learning (lower cognitive load) requires a behaviorist approach (memorize, recognizing, labeling) as does the expectation of outcomes that must be measured. I then suggest that procedural and rule-based learning requires an emphasis on Cognitivism and finally, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity require a view of Constructivism. (para4)
I will definitely keep these suggestions in mind when designing instruction!
On top of learning theories, one must consider individual learning styles. Different people have different approaches to learning, and some prefer visual learning to auditory, while others are more “hands-on” learners. Like learning theories, it is important to align instructional design with learning styles, and one good way to do this is to use strategies that encompass all learning styles. For example, one may use elaboration, comprehension monitoring, and mnemonics (Learning Styles, n.d.).
One must also consider the motivation of the learner. There are intrinsic values to learning, such as pride and self-worth, and there are extrinsic values such as the need to get a better paying job or the need for praise from your boss or peers. All learners need to be stimulated, feel competent, feel a sense of autonomy, and need relatedness (Motivation, n.d.) Understanding the specific motivations of one’s learners will help one to build better instruction.
Interestingly, technology plays a part in tying together learning theories, styles, and motivations. One can employ technology to support different learning theories. It could be something as simple as a pop-up smiley face on an online test (as a conditioning reward in Behaviorism) to using online discussion boards to support social learning theories. Technology can be used to cater to different learning styles, as well. The visual learner will respond well to computer-generated charts and graphs, while the auditory learner can take advantage of narrated web-based instruction. The kinesthetic learner may enjoy using computer programs to manipulate objects in a lesson. As far as addressing motivation, one can use multimedia to pique interest, simulated environments to help learners boost confidence in their abilities, and use online communications such as email and instant messaging to stay in touch with students and help them feel a sense of relatedness.
In reflecting upon my own learning process, I can really see the need for connecting new material to past experiences. I think this is why I find math to be my most difficult subject – it is hard to connect something abstract to a memory. Math involves using “rehearsal” (Information Processing and the Brain, n.d.) instead of meaning-making tactics.
What I have learned in this course will help me further my instructional design career. Understanding adult learners is especially important, as many job descriptions I see are requiring the applicant to have knowledge of adult learning theories. More importantly, knowing about and understanding different learning theories, styles, and motivations will help me to build more relevant learning experiences.
Information processing and the brain. [Video file]. (n.d.), Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Kapp, K. (2007 January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.uleduneering.com/kappnotes/index.php/2007/01/out-and-about-discussion-on-educational/
Learning styles and strategies. [Video file]. (n.d.), Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved https://class.waldenu.edu
Motivation in learning. [Video file]. (n.d.), Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu