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Origins of Learning Theories

The education thought and practice is an intricate web of psychology and philosophy that guides learning theories. The root of learning theories is in epistemology branch of philosophy. In this paper, the focus is on the origins of these theories, and how the various philosophical schools of thought have informed their development. The Instruction Education Australia website defines “.. Instructional Design as the process of using our knowledge of “How People Learn” to develop instructional strategies that meet the needs of the learners and the desired learning outcomes… Humanistic theory of learning is associated with Carl Rogers.

The major concept emphasized is that every person is unique and thus has unique attributes. It promotes the idea that each learner has an independent desire to learn. It’s supported by the works of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs theory. It focuses on an ideal situation where the teacher only to facilitate learning and give up the leading role. It is heavily influenced by individualism philosophy of George miller that exalts individuality and singular identity development.

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In comparison with other theories, this theory doesn’t tell whether all learners will be willing to learn the common content at the same time or how to address this in the event homogeneity does not arise. Classical conditioning works by the Russian Pavlov and the operant conditioning theory by skinner and forms the simplest clear conceptualization to understanding behaviorism. Behaviorism is founded in empiricism philosophy by Aristotle. The pillar of this theory is that learning and behavior comes from experience.

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Cognitive load theory explains that the ways content is organized determine the effectiveness of learning. This theory design the way of organising content so that the active and working memory is not overwhelmed. This can be achieved through the use of illustrations and learning aids. I t also requires the use of stationery to ease the content if the working memory (Morrison, G,R & Ross, M,S. – 2009) This in empiricism philosophy is argued that repeated experience results to associations i. e. if lightning is followed by thunder always, then he two are learned to be the same in the mind.

Thus hoe you organize content determines the perception of relations by learners. Empiricism philosophy is about learning through data. A. S Neill, in his contemporary democratic education philosophy, asserted that the reward and punishment system can be negotiated. This meant that conditioning in learners can be mutually and agreed upon and without being imposed. Behaviorists suggest that all is required for effective learning is motivation. -both positive and negative so that over time, the effect relation of behavior and rewards in learning are predictable.

Comparing with humanistic theory that says all learners are intrinsically motivated without need for external motivating factors, Behaviorism calls for the involvement of the teacher as the determining person on the learning that will be achieved and setting the condition system. Behaviorism like in humanistic theory generalizes that learners will be the same yet the experiments that inform this behaviorism was done in animals and borrowed to apply to self conscious and advanced human beings.

Pragmatism ideas in the Education progressivism works of John Dewey advances that strict control and generalized grouping of learners should be avoided as suggested in behaviorism. This idea is close to humanistic theory that says all should be given opportunities in accordance with individual needs. Jean Piaget substituted needs for ability. Needs are more associated with the works of Maslow. Greek thinker and early educator Plato ideas about learning compare with the cognitive school theory.

Cognitive theory differs with the rest of theories for it focuses on the measurable potential of the learner to grasp the content (Atherton, 2011). It’s a theory that calls for designing of instruction process to be inclusive and differentiated in accordance with ability. It’s close to the thought by Plato on education only that Plato’s focus was on segregated class in society and thus designing education along the teachable (rulers) and un teachable (subjects). This differentiation idea is borrowed by cognitive school of thought only that the basis for segregation is modified from the social class to amplitude and Intelligence.

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Origins of Learning Theories. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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