The Learning Process

Chapter Summary: The Learning Process

Although the term learning has many possible meanings, the term as used by teachers emphasizes its relationship to curriculum, to teaching, and to the issues of sequencing, readiness, and transfer. Viewed in this light, the major psychological perspectives of learning—behaviorism, social cognitive theory, constructivism, and information processing—have important ideas to offer educators. Within the behaviorist perspective, classical conditioning and operant conditioning attempt to explain why students behave as they do, but they offer less help in understanding how they think.

Social cognitive theory also focuses on behavior but also considered the mental processes involved in learning and behavior. Reciprocal determinism emphasizes the interaction between personal factors, the environment, and behavior. Observational learning explains the process steps of learning, through attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation. Finally, self-efficacy and self-regulation were discussed as factors that influence student behavior and success.

Meanwhile, constructivism describes how individuals build or “construct” knowledge by engaging actively with their experiences. Psychological constructivism emphasizes the learners’ individual responses to experience—their tendency both to assimilate it and to accommodate it. Social constructivism (or sociocultural theory) emphasizes how other, more expert individuals can create opportunities for the learner to construct new knowledge. Social constructivism suggests that a teacher’s role must include deliberate, scaffolded dialogue. It also needs to include deliberate instructional planning, such as facilitated by Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives. Both of these strategies can promote students’ metacognition, or the ability to monitor their own learning. Psychological emphasizes the teacher’s responsibility for arranging a rich learning environment and for emphasizing rich sensory, motor, and concrete experiences wherever possible.

Finally, the information processing approach describes various aspects of cognition that influence learning. Attention and memory, including cognitive loads and processing, can help or hinder the learning process.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Educational Psychology Copyright © 2020 by Nicole Arduini-Van Hoose is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book