Week 3

  1. How do these activities you have done recently to support your students’ learning relate to the theoretical approaches in the ‘Learning Theories Table Summary’, and their assumptions and implications for practice?

Learning theories are helpful for supporting students in way in which students understand what teacher is saying. Our activity of this week was on learning theories in which we studies behaviorism, cognitive, humanistic and experiential theories. All these learning theories explains and helps us to support our students.

Behaviorism Theory:

In behaviorism theory (Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike) it is assumed that we learn from interaction with environment but the consequences are not connected with mental process, only change in behavior tell whether leaning is happening or not. In the practice and implication, a teacher has to control learning situation, selection of content and presentation style and have to set come objectives clearly. This theory supports the formative assessment.

Cognitive Theories (Gagne, Kohler, Tolman, Piaget, Vygotsky):

In this theory mental processes are involved, memory and recall based on our needs, interest and existing cognitive scheme are involved. In this learning process pass through various levels from concrete knowledge to conceptualization. In practice and implication, teacher has to focus on building cognitive maps for his subject and present his content that a learner understands and memorize it by linking it with existing knowledge.

Humanistic Theory (Rogers, Knowles, Lave and Wenger): 

According to this theory learning occurs when a person is engaged in activity that is relevant to his experience and he can control by setting some goals and having a control over the process. Motivation and environment influence the process. In practice and implication, a teacher has to provide an environment that supports and encourage personal development of learners and provide opportunities of self-evaluation and reflection.

Experiential Theory (Dewey, Kolb):

According to this theory learning arises from critical reflection on experience that changes behavior and further modifications are done based on previous results. In practice and implication, teacher has to focus on work-based learning which gives students a hand on experience that encourages students and help them critically reflect on their work. 

  1. Which theoretical approaches does your own practice tend to favor, in your own context of supporting student learning? How and why?

From all above explained theories, we cannot depend on only one theory in our practice if we extract and implement a combination of two or more than two in our practice, this will really work according to my opinion. Before this week I was not aware from all these theories but after reading and learning all these I just realized that I was using cognitive (Gagne, Kohler, Tolman, Piaget, Vygotsky) and experiential theories (Dewey, Kolb) in my practice and I was aware from the result of it. Cognitive theory helps me to make the things understandable for my learners and experiential theory we always use in our practical session in which some hands-on practices are done by learners.

  1. Where might there be gaps in your practice (e.g. in terms of the approaches you tend to use and theoretical approaches that underpin them)?

A teacher always has some theories what teaching is even they are not aware from any specific theory. As mentioned, that “Teacher’s theory deeply affects the kind of learning environment they create in their classrooms (Trigwell and Prosser 1991; Grow and Kember 1993).” It always depends on teacher how they adopt and appropriate theory according to their students and what results he get by applying that. To apply an appropriate theory teacher must know how a student learn, student might be using low cognitive level which results in Surface approach and some students might be using high level activities which results in Deep approach. (John B. Biggs; Catherine So-kum Tang; 2011) By learning these things I was not aware of it that method of learning that a student is using also affects a teacher’s teaching practice after knowing this all I will first try to know about the student learning method and after that an appropriate theory will be adopted.

  1. What ideas does this prompt for you to make more use of theoretical approaches and associated teaching practices which you tend not to utilize, in order to expand and develop your practice of supporting student learning in the future?

Theoretical approaches do support the teaching practices but choosing the appropriate theory according to your student learning approach is something that must be taken care of. Each of the theories mentioned above also support student leaning in every case but in a different way, some works toward cognitive approach, some uses environmental approach and some use experiential and interest and motivational approaches. Every theory supports in student support learning, in which self-assessment, formative and summative assessments are also considered.

Reflect more widely on what you have learned as a PGCHE student and practitioner from this week’s different learning activities

  1. What have you learned this week about learning theories, assumptions and their implications for practice? 

Learning a simple definition:

“Learning is a process that is often not under our control and is wrapped up with the environment we inhabit and the relationship we make. It involves encountering signals from senses; attending to them; looking for connections and meanings; and framing them so that we may act.”

(Mark K Smith)

My learning about learning theories:

We learn four major theories this week which includes behaviorism, cognitive, humanistic and experiential theory of learning. As a PGCHE student I observe all these theories and have my own view point of each of this.

In accordance with behaviorism theory of learning, I observed that in this theory learning is all about how a teacher behave with a student, student behavior in this theory is not much address which is also an obvious case in learning. Appreciation on good work is right of a student and teacher did this, it build confidence in them and encourages that specific and other students to perform well. But if a student didn’t perform well teacher must treat him nicely and with polite behavior, he would be able to know the reasons of his poor performance.

Cognitive nature of PGCHE course and reflection in it make us work well and enable us to use past experiences and explore things further in a good way. Small pieces are joined and convey a comprehensive information to us and it helps us to store the valuable information into our memory so used in future.

Humanistic nature of our course gives us opportunity to keep up good work and to motivate our self by analyzing the things. Being a student and as practitioner side by side I understand both the teacher and learner sides and relate the things with my experiences and this also help me to set goals for future.

Experiential theory helps me to understand the practice of repeating and doing things every time in a new way to get and explore new ways to do things. After multiple experiments we would be able to find the best way to do things, that’s all experiential theory all about.

  1. How did you learn this?

There are so many resources to learn all the theories related to learning, the best source I found to get the good and appropriate content about these theories is (https://gsi.berkeley.edu/gsi-guide-contents/learning-theory-research/learning-overview/) which was provided us in our digital resources. On this webpage each and everything about behaviorism, cognitive and social constructivism were explained. The other aspect about learning these theories was actual implementation of these in our own course where a combination of these learning theories is used to help the learners, learn in a well manner. Learning approaches in which we understand the learning methods of a learner was also a concerned topic of learning theories. As it is said that there is not ideal way of teaching, learning process become very boring and unwanted if all the teachers adopt the same approaches and the choices a teacher made to adopt a way of teaching directly effect the student’s way of learning. (Philip Race, 2007)

  1. What supported you in that?

Behaviorist school of thought takes the point that learning happens through stimulus, response and reward in other word a cognition process. The stimulus is just like an input and learned behaviors as output. The other approach in it is cognitive view which focuses on perception, memory and concept formation and it also depends on one’s own ability to understand of what they have learned by solving their own problems. The most popular theories of cognitive school arise from the work of Lewin (1952) further it was adopted and extended by many other learning specialists. These two approaches are really helpful for me in the whole practice of my own cognition, experiential and behaviorism are those what supports us as learner as well as practitioner in our own fields. 

  1. What have you learned this week about the practice of supporting student learning in HE?

The effectiveness of our teaching depends on what is teaching for us. There are three levels of thinking about teaching, in the first one we learn what the student is. In second level we learn what a teacher does and in third and last level we learn what the student does. (John B. Biggs; Catherine So-kum Tang, 2011) In supporting student learning these three levels helps us to understand the problems and to find solution for it. Let’s have a brief overview of all these three levels. 

The first level is called Blame-the-Student theory of teaching. As in this theory it’s a blame game on learner that how he learns and interpret the content. There are usually two type of students in every class. The good students and the poor ones, good students are good because they work well and use deep learning approach to learn any subject. Poor students are poor because they just read the content and adopt the surface approach. In the book an example of Susan and Robert was given as good and poor student accordingly. At this level of teacher has to understand what the student is by knowing all the facts that are affecting their learning.

Second level focuses on what a teacher does. This view is still based on transmission, but transmitting concepts and understanding, not just the information (Prosser and Trigwell 1999). This level is totally teacher centered, which means making the complex things understandable for a poor student is all about teacher’s responsibility.

Third level is what the student does, which is student centered. At this level teacher see that how student relate with him and did the purpose of learning is fulfilled or not. No longer is it possible to say: ‘I taught them, but they didn’t learn.’ An expert teacher is who use mastery skills to teach all type of students. (John B. Biggs; Catherine So-kum Tang, 2011)

  1. How has your understanding of this changed from doing this week’s topic and activities?

This week topic and activities were all about learning theories and activities. Before this week I was adopting all the supporting student learning and theories. After doing this week activities and reading all the content provided, I just realized that it’s not only the teacher who teaches and it’s not only the learner who learns. Teaching theories and learner’s approach both contribute towards a good result. As we read three levels of thinking about teaching and then we learn about the learner’s approaches of learning in (John B. Biggs; Catherine So-kum Tang, 2011).

  1. What has challenged you?

In this week we learn a lot to things about teaching theories which were must more helpful for us and helps us to support student learning. One of the biggest challenges for a teacher who is teaching a class of 20 students, before adoption of any teaching theory or mastery trick he has to judge or observe his students. When he categories his students into good and poor category, he would be able to treat them in a different way.

  1. What has surprised you?

On student learning some relationship between learning theories and psychological conditions were surprising for me. Over a century ago, William James warned:

“I say moreover that you make a great, a very great, mistake if you think that psychology, being the science of the mind’s laws, is something from which you can deduce definite programs and schemes and methods of instruction. Teaching must agree with the psychology but need not necessarily be the only kind of teaching that would so agree . . . (James 1899/1962: 3)”

BF. Skinner introduce whole technology of teaching with behaviorism (Skinner 1968), his teaching machines are celebrated example. Teaching machines were actually not application of psychology but analogy of pigeon pecking targets and work for low level rote learning. One Grand Theory says that all now dead but the psychology can improve educational practices very much alive. (John B. Biggs; Catherine So-kum Tang, 2011)

  1. What has this taught you about your strengths in your practice in supporting student learning?

This week topic and activities really help me out to make my practice strong by learning and applying the teaching theories and all the learning practices which are all discussed above. All the theories and leaning practices help us to provide better support to our students in their learning process by understanding their way of learning and their level of leaning.

  1. What actions can you identify from this that you could take to further develop your practice in the future?

I will apply the levels of thinking and learning in my practice in near future and will record the results obtain from that practice. I will definitely apply teaching theories in my practice and will found out that which one works better for me in my field of teaching. Lastly learning theories help me to understand multiple problems of my students and help me to categories them which further helps me to seek more information and support in supporting student learning.