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Constructivism views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge. In other words, "learning involves constructing one's own knowledge from one's own experiences" (Ormrod, J. E., Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Fourth Edition. 2003, p. 227). Constructivist learning, therefore, is a very personal endeavor, whereby internalized concepts, rules, and general principles may consequently be applied in a practical real-world context. According to Jerome Bruner and other constructivists, the teacher acts as a facilitator who encourages students to discover principles for themselves and to construct knowledge by working to solve realistic problems, usually in collaboration with others. This collaboration is also known as knowledge construction as a social process. Some benefits of this social process are, 1.) Students can work to clarify and organize their ideas so they can voice them to others. 2.) It gives them opportunities to elaborate on what they learned. 3.) They are exposed to the views of others. And 4.) It enables them to discover flaws and inconsistencies (Ormrod, J. E., Educational Psychology: Developing Learners, Fourth Edition. 2003, p. 232). Cognitive theorists such as Jean Piaget and David Ausubel, and others, were concerned with the changes in a student's understanding that result from learning and with the fundamental importance of the environment. Constructivism itself has many variations, such as Generative Learning, Cognitive Apprenticeship, Problem-based learning, Discovery Learning, situated learning, and knowledge building. Regardless of the variety, constructivism promotes a student's free exploration within a given framework or structure.
Behaviorism is an educational theory grounded on the seminal works of B. F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov, both scientists well known for their studies in animal behavior. Behaviorists believe that organisms need reinforcements to keep them interested and that the use of stimuli can be very effective in controlling behavior. For the behaviorist, environment directly shapes behavior, and complex learning requires a series of small, progressive steps. The behaviorist theory of education is probably by far the most commonly practiced, because the behaviors of the learners can be easily viewed and therefore measured, which is itself a basic premise of the scientific method.
Informal theories of education deal with more practical break down of the learning process. One of these deals with whether learning should take place as a building of concepts toward an overall idea, or the understanding of the overall idea with the details filled in later. Modern thinkers favour the latter.
Other concerns are the origins of the drive for learning. To this end, many have split off from the mainstream holding that learning is a primarily self taught thing, and that the ideal learning situation is one that is self taught. According to this dogma, learning at its basic level is all self taught, and class rooms should be eliminated since they do not fit the perfect model of self learning.
Informal learning theory also concerns itself with book vs real-world experience learning. Many consider most schools severely lacking in the second.
About accelerating the learning process:
- mnemonic techniques: mind mapping, peg lists, loci
- formulating knowledge for learning
- spaced repetition
- incremental reading
About the mechanisms of memory and learning:
- neural networks in the brain (see also: neural networks)
- hippocampus versus neocortex
- sleep and learning
- memory consolidation
- short-term memory versus working memory
- long-term memory
- declarative memory versus procedural memory
- molecular mechanisms of memory
- the cerebellum and motor learning
- Learning Theories
- Creating Learning Centered Classrooms. What Does Learning Theory Have To Say? ERIC Digest.
- How People Learn (and What Technology Might Have To Do with It). ERIC Digest.
- Critical-learning wiki
- Applied Constructivism
- About Learning 12 Learning Theories Described
- Theory Into Practice (TIP) database brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction
- Folk knowledge and academic learning. In B. J. Ellis & D. F. Bjorklund (Eds.), Origins of the social mind (pp. 493-519). New York: Guilford Publications.: A paper from the perspective of evolutionary developmental psychology
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