Educational Theory and Philosophy Assignment
Educational Theory and Philosophy Assignment
Some useful resources:
There are a few primary theories of learning that dominate the educational landscape.
Cognitive Learning Theory/Cognitivism
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist who helped to develop the idea of classical conditioning. In his experiments, he found that when dogs were presented with food, they would salivate. Pavlov began to play a bell while providing the dogs’ food, and soon, the dogs began to associate the bell with food. They would salivate when they heard the bell, even if they had not yet received food. In other words, the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with food. The dogs were conditioned to expect food at the sound of the bell.
B.F. Skinner helped to define behaviorism and built upon the idea of conditioning. He believed that people are conditioned to repeat behaviors that have good consequences and not to repeat behaviors that have bad consequences (recall positive and negative reinforcement from 5100). When a learner responds directly to a stimulus, he is demonstrating respondent conditioning (similar to Pavlov’s classical conditioning). However, Skinner built upon the idea by pointing out that, at any given moment, a person might behave in a way that was not triggered by any particular stimulus. When a learner’s spontaneous behavior is reinforced, this is called operant conditioning. The emphasis on reinforcement (giving a positive stimulus for desired behavior, and a negative stimulus for undesirable behavior) was one of Skinner’s major contributions to behaviorism and the field of education. Using stimuli and reinforcement to bring about a change in student behavior is called shaping.
Jean Piaget defined himself as an epistemologist, an individual interested in the process of the qualitative development of knowledge. As he says in the introduction of his book Genetic Epistemology: “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next levels, including also the scientific knowledge.” Along with the theory of epistemology, Piaget believed that children pass through four periods of mental development.
Lawrence Kohlberg was an American psychologist who built on Piaget’s work and proposed stages of development that describe a person’s moral development throughout his or her lifetime.
In Kohlberg’s model, moral development is the development of an autonomous self, capable of being motivated by abstract principles understood as a kind of “mathematical” solution to conflicts of interests. The teacher’s role is to raise moral issues, let students reason them out and discuss them, and then come to their own conclusion. It is NOT the teacher’s role to try to coerce students into accepting the teacher’s decision.
Kohlberg’s six stages were grouped into three levels: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional.
Level 1: Pre-conventional
Stage 1: Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?)
Stage 2: Self-interest orientation (What’s in it for me?)
Level 2: Conventional
Stage 3: Interpersonal accord and conformity (The good boy/good girl attitude)
Stage 4: Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality)
Level 3: Post-Conventional
Stage 5: Social contract orientation
Stage 6: Universal ethical
principles (Principled conscience)
Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist and constructivist. His key contribution to learning theory and constructivism was the idea that learning occurs through interaction with one’s environment. He proposed a zone of proximal development (ZPD). The zone of proximal development can be described as the span between what a child can do on his own and what he can do with help from a teacher or a more knowledgeable peer. Teachers who want to apply the ZPD in their classrooms can look for opportunities to provide guided practice to their students, which will help to boost their learning from one plateau to the next. They can also pair more knowledgeable students with less knowledgeable ones for group work so that students have the chance to progress in the ZPD with the help of a peer. Scaffolding should always occur within the learner’s ZPD.
Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) is best known for his theory on the social development of human beings. He extended Sigmund Freud’s five stages of development to eight stages of development, adding three stages in adulthood. Each of the eight stages is marked by a conflict. The result of the conflicts is a favorable outcome known as “virtues.” Like Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, Erikson’s theory is particularly applicable to teachers who are seeking to develop the whole child. It can also be helpful in understanding what may motivate learners at a particular developmental stage. To Erikson, the teacher’s role is to help learners understand the central conflict they face at a given developmental stage and encourage learners seeking to develop the key virtue for that stage.
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