Posted: June 27th, 2015

Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology

Psychologists have suggested that learning can be done in a number of ways. They have presented various approaches, which emphasizes on their understanding of what learning is and how human learning takes place. To improve human learning in the classroom, psychologists provide a functional and realistic approach to facilitate learning through the demonstration of commonalities between the various theories of learning. Some of the approaches that they used to describe how learning takes place include behaviorist, cognitive learning and constructivist theory.

Learnig is a sequence through which comparatively permanent changes in character or knowledge is impacted on an individual through experience. Experience helps us to aqcuiore and learn such behaviors as driving, writing, teaching and understanding deffirent approaches to human behavior. In a normal classroom students are provided with particular learning experiences through their teachers. To assit students learn specific behavior and understand, teachers should provide the sort of experience that will encourage these kind of learning. This ia what laed to the emergence of the behaviorist, cognoitive viewpoint and the social constructivist or sociocultural viewpoint approaches (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).

From the behaviorist perspective the most significant relationship is between the surrounding and the behavior: Changes in the surrounding usually result in changes in the character of individuals. Personal differences are less significant to this school of thought because the objective is to produce acceptable behavior or decrease the frequency of unacceptedf behavior. From the behaviorist approach, personal differences may be perceived as reflecting different backgrounds of punishment, conditioning, or reinforcement (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).

The behaviorist theory puts emphasis on behavior of the individuals. It also lays emphasis on the self regulatory capacities and skills. Behaviors signify situatinally applicable and desirable traits, such as finishing homework assignments, as well as situationally inapplicable and underiarable traits, like fighting. Skilss refer to social skills such as assisting others, together with motor skills, like playing an instrument. Self regulation refers to triats such as objective setting and may include self monitoring, evaluation, and instruction. Notably behavioral learning approaches do not put emphasis on cognitive knowledge, such as use of memory, acquired knowledge and creation of meaning. What these traits namely skills, behavior, and self regulation capacity have in common is tha thye demonstrate voluntary, deliberate and purposive alternatives adjusting or adopting to an individuals environment. Acquiring these skills, behaviors and self regulatory capacities empowers individual sto get rewards and favorable results and avoid undesired and unfavourable outcomes (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).

The behaviorist theorist argue that desirable bahvoir should be reinforced or strengthened by awarding of rewards and token in appreciation of favourable behavior. This positive reinforcers of behavior may include giving of scholarships, trophies, money and public recognition among others. There are also negative reinforcers of behavior. These are usually aspects of the environment that if removed, they tend to encourage or raise the frequency of a particular behavior. For example a teacher might stare at a student who is not working on the class assignment but will immediately stop staring at the student after he/she resumes working on her assignment. What is being reinforced is the students task (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).

Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development argues that students learn as a result of the students interaction with his/her environmemnt which is mostly comprised of teachers, parents, peers and other competent individuals in society. According to Vygotsky, cognitive development emerged through collaborative interaction with skilled individuals in the society. Cognitive development encompasses the enrichment of particular task skills and knowledge. Emphasis is put on learnig specific skills through guidance and mentoring. In Vygotsky’s approach, the area of proximal development is of specific significance because this is the principle zone in which cognitive growth occurs. Relatively minimal learning occurs in areas of pre-growth or actual growth. Instead learning takes place as teachers assist the students to constrict the gap between their probable development and their actual growth. To Vygotsky, instructions are beneficial only if they come before the learners development. Cognitive theorist advocate for scaffolding which is the aide given by a teacher to students in the course of social interactions that enable the student acquire skills and knowledge. Scaffolding serves four basic purpose which include providing support, extends the limits of what students can do, enables the students to accomplish tasks that would rather not the accomplished and it is only employed when necessary (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).

According to the social constructism theory, students develop knowledge in a social context. Contsuctivism encompasses various theiories, all of which perceive students as active contributors in the construction of understanding. Students formulate an understanding of the content presentrted by the teacher. The students have the ability to construct knowledge from previous encounters or knowledge. Students make use of previous knowledge to construe meaning to new information. Knowledge is described basing on the construction of the student as a result of continuos correlation of the student with his/her immediate environment and social setting. The source of understanding from this perpective is prejudiced experience in interaction with the surrounding. The socialcultural theory, social learning theory and social constructivism theory are all apprehensive with how we are enlightened by other individuals (O’Donnell, Reeve & Smith, 2011).


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O’Donnell, A. M., Reeve, J., & Smith, J. K. (2011). Educational psychology: Reflection for action. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

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