My Personal Learning Theory

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Learning Defined

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, abilities, as well as the acculturation of values, attitudes, and emotional reactions (mindset). Learning is determined from the following observations: completion of a new behavior or task, change in frequency, speed, intensity to the said task, change in task complexity, and responding differently to a particular stimulus. Moreover, learning can be inferred from certain situations such as avoidance of risky or unpleasant behaviors.

Influences on Learning

Learning is impacted by prior knowledge (and misunderstandings), a learners’ belief system, and environmental barriers. Environmental barriers include economic, physical, political, linguistic, ethnocultural, and social ones. For example, societal barriers include gender bias.

According to Pinker’s debate with Spelke (2010) at the Harvard Mind, Brain, Behavior series, there’s a great deal of parental discrimination in raising and reporting on sons versus daughters’ individual differences in math and science. She suggested that this produces a pattern of discrimination in favor of sons. For example, parents of 6th or 8th graders thought that their sons were better at math and science than parents of daughters of the same age. Subsequently, females may lose interest or be discouraged due to a lack of encouragement. Of note, male and female students at that age both reported liking math. Fortunately, teachers of that same age group reported no gender biases.

My Personal Learning Theory

My personal learning theory is a myriad of best practices supported by human learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. I place constructivism within the cognitivist umbrella term as a subset. I adhere to the need to show measurable outcomes, which is rooted in behaviorism. An example would be the utilization of measurable objectives. Moreover, I acknowledge the use of positive reinforcement to enhance learning. As for cognitive theory, I adhere to cognitivists’ self-regulated learning. For example, I’m a constant learner who reflects on my own understanding of a topic or methodology and seeks ongoing education.

From constructivism, I utilize Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural learning theory to address misconceptions. For instance, I use the term ‘smart mistakes.’ These types of errors are often based on preconceived rules, such as the application of false cognates to a second language. In this situation, the learner is drawing from their first language that is part of their sociocultural background.

Want to learn more about my scholarly opinion on learning? See my blog post on Where Learning Happens. View my Teaching Philosophy.

References

Pinker, S. & Spelke, E. S. (2010). The science of gender and science. Harvard Mind, Brain, Behavior. [Presentation]. President & Fellows of Harvard University. Retrieved fromhttp://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k69509&pageid=icb.page334500&pageContentId=icb.pagecontent698262&view=watch.do&viewParam_entry=28700&state=maximize#a_icb_pagecontent698262

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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