Behaviorism? Cognitivism? Constructivism? Connectivism?

I loved reading about the different learning theories this week and reflecting on how they influence my own practice! As I read about each theory I found myself comparing how different teaching and learning look for my own children and in the classrooms I work in versus when I was a student! Like Matt mentioned, reading about the learning theories took me back to my undergrad and currently I’m a bit overwhelmed with all of the information! Also not going to lie, I still thought the Learning Theory Triangle was a thing!

How have learning theories shaped my own role. My own role is a bit unique as I am not a classroom teacher. As a learning resource teacher a significant part of my role is facilitating reading interventions, and managing inclusion and intervention plans. After a refresher on the learning theories by Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby I think reading interventions have been influenced by Cognitivism.  Within the Cognitivism learning theory emphasis is placed on the role of practice with corrective feedback; which is basically the premise of most reading interventions. While reading interventions aren’t flashy or exciting they do have a pretty good success rate!

One of the perks of being a learning resource teacher is I get to see a variety of teachers’ in action and I am excited about what I see! In the 15 years I’ve taught there has been a significant shift to hands on/experimental learning vs more traditional approaches such as memorization and drill and practice. I am sure the emergence of the Constructivism learning theory in the 90’s as well as the increase in technology is responsible for this shift! I see daily examples of learning opportunities that create meaning from experience. Last week my son participated in a Sling shot STEM project, listened to a virtual presentation, experimented with different types of soil and my daughter was learning about primary colors through a tie dye activity! And I was connected to their learning through SeeSaw!

Prior to last weeks class I had never even heard the term connectivism but I can see how it is relevant in today’s world that is centered around technology. To quote George Siemens “Over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn.” I couldn’t agree more! I think an important aspect of connectivism will be teaching students digital citizenship, something I am not that familiar with but looking forward to learning more about.

Okay finally back to the Learning Theories Pyramid. Over the years I have participated in multiple professional development sessions that reference the Learning Pyramid and apparently to some degree it’s ingrained in my brain. This week my son was arguing that he didn’t want to write out his spelling words and I spouted off some quote that writing out his spelling words was twice as effective as reading them. After reading the article Tales of the Undead…Learning Theories: The Learning PyramidI’ve been questioning if I really believe in the learning pyramid and I still think it has some merit. While I understand the percentages can’t be accurate; I do feel like there is a coloration between student engagement and active learning. Not to say there ins’t a place for more traditioanl approaches. I believe students need a variety of learning opportunities. I loved Candice Benjes-Small quote “People’s attention spans are short, but they do tend to retain more when the instructor mixes it up.”  And if your still reading this I didn’t make my son write out his spelling words each night – we mixed it up :).

6 thoughts on “Behaviorism? Cognitivism? Constructivism? Connectivism?

  1. Great post Tracy! I think that the shift towards hands-on and beneficial learning has been beneficial for many students. Whether it be STEM projects like your sons (Sounds fun) or Genius Hour projects, I think there is a lot of value for students. As you quoted, I think that switching it up definitely leads to greater levels of engagement.

    Your right in saying that digital citizenship is an important aspect of teaching. Even with my extensive use of technology in the classroom, I feel like I’m consistently learning more about digital citizenship.

    Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Trevor, Just curious: Do you weave being a digital citizenship into your daily work? Or is it more of a start of the year review? Is there a particular resource that you use? I am pretty out of the loop in this area as an LRT.

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  2. Hey Tracy,
    I was thinking the same thing about the Pyramid – it makes sense at first glance until you are the least bit critical of it, then suddenly it seems to lack some credibility. I think mixing it up is the way to go; as with anything, the same old routine can get boring, and students need content access in a variety of ways; traditional methods have their place, but so do the new techy ways of facilitation.
    Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Tracy! I enjoyed reading about your take with learning philosophies from a learning resource perspective. I automatically went back to my classroom days without taking the time to consider what my philosophies would be in a small group intervention setting. Thanks for the push to send me down that path. I too have learned so much from the different learning that my own children have been able to experience since I have been out of the classroom. I love that you switched it up with your son! So many times I have had to give in to what my son feels would work best for him, rather than what I think would be best. I find myself forgetting all of the great teacher traits that I have when I am at home being a mom! Time for me to mix it up not only at school, but also at home!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences! I completely agree with the quote you included from Candice Benjes- Small that students learn better when we mix things up. It makes me think of how I have heard that children can focus on something for the amount of time that correlates with their age. I think by mixing things up every so many minutes depending on the age of your students you have a better chance of keeping them engaged and participating actively in their learning!

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