Learning theory is an attempt to describe how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning.

These theories are useful because they open our eyes to other possibilities and ways of seeing the problem. The theories which are behaviorism, cognitivism and humanism, are the most important approaches because they provide different kinds of strategies and methods which can be used in teaching effectively although they have some differences.

One of the most important theories is behaviorism which provides many beneficial tools to teachers in effective teaching in class and also different in some ways from the other approaches. The behavioral theory has its roots in studies of classical conditioning which is a famous experiment of Ivan Pavlov. Because classical conditioning interpret some behaviors of human, it has got important implications for effective learning in schools. For example, test anxiety can be understood through classical conditioning. It can also help us explain positive feelings toward school. Apart from classical conditioning, operant conditioning sometimes can help teachers. Operant conditioning is a process makes individuals try to control the results of their behaviors. For instance, attending all the classes to get a good grade is a goal-directed action. Moreover, to strengthen behaviors, positive and negative reinforcement can be used and in order to decrease the undesired behaviors punishment can be used. Another principle, social cognitive theory, which is pioneered by Albert Bandura suggest the idea that people learn from observing others and gradually acquire control over their own behavior.

Behavioral approach, like the other approaches, can be used in some conditions for effective teaching.

However, unlike the other approaches this approach focuses on a different term: teacher. Because of the teacher-centered principle, learning packet is a closed system. In other words, student may still be restricted to the teacher’s world. In addition, the behavioral approach gives importance to behavior which can be observed and measured. To sum up, due to its principles and suggestions on how to arouse positive or undesired behaviors, the behaviorism should be considered very essential to teachers in order to shape student behaviors.

Although behavioral approach provides many tools in effective teaching, it ignores non-observable behaviors, such as thought process. At this point, cognitive approach which gives emphasis to active process, suggests many beneficial devices to teachers in teaching and also puts emphasis in different place than other approaches. There are various tools that can be used. For example, teachers by using analogies and mnemonic devices can create efficient elaboration. Due to analogies, students can see similarities between two ideas and mnemonic tools make it easier to recall new information. Moreover, cognitivism can help to understand while construct methods to contribute learning process. Some of the methods are problem solving, discovery learning and reception learning. Cognitivists such as Mayer and Wittrock claim that problem solving strategy can help learners think systematically while dealing with a problem. Another method discovery learning, which was modeled by Jerome Bruners, suggest that when the learner know the structure of a subject, his/her learning can be useful, meaningful and easily recalled. Other model which is based on cognitivism is the reception learning model of David Ausebel. Due to this model, teacher should arrange student thinking about the main idea before showing the complete framework so that student can relate the incoming information.

Although cognitive approach admit knowledge as given absolute, it gives emphasis to learner-centered learning rather than teacher-centered due to the fact that this approach assumes learnerВ  plays an active role in learning than just being passive like in behaviorism. In short, cognitive approach provides various methods to teachers, and when these methods are used, they can promote effective learning in classes.

Apart from behaviorism andВ  cognitivism, there is another theory of learning, humanism which gets less attention among theories.

However, it isВ  very significant due to it’s principles which can be create effective learning in classes and this theory may be differ in some points. Various ideas are proposed in humanism to make more efficient learning. For instance, for humanists, teacher as a facilitator, can create effective learning when they create a caring relationship with students. Because students emotional conditions effect their learning, teachers should think student’s needs and establish good communication with them. Another principle is that the decision-making which makes students more stimulated toward their own learning.

Moreover, humanistic view provides some suggestions for classroom management and communication with students. In addition, for humanism teachers must avoid critics to personality and just tell the behavior which is undesired for better learning environment. There are some humanists such as Carl Rogers, Thomas Gordon and William Purkey who promoted humanistic method in teaching. For instance, Carl Roger’s idea of learner-centered education make students more capable of educating themselves without teachers. And Thomas Gordon suggests teacher effectiveness training that focus on favorable teacher-student relationship. Another humanist William Purkey proposed invitational learning and due to this principle teachers should encourage students that they are valuable, able and responsible.

Besides it’s principles, also the emphasis is put in different place in humanism than in behaviorism and cognitivism.

Humanism focuses on emotions and feelings in learning which are ignored in behaviorism and cognitivism. In addition, this theory, like cognitivism, is student centered. To conclude, humanism provides different and significant principles which can be used for more efficient learning in classes.

In conclusion, when we evaluate behaviorism, cognitivism and humanism, clearly we can see that although they have different tools for better learning and different focus areas, there are applicability in these learning theories. Efficient learning model should involves behavioral, cognitive and humanistic dimensions in appropriate for more effective learning in class.


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