Main article: Behaviorism Behavorism as a theory was most developed by B. F. Skinner. It loosely includes the work of such people as Thorndike, Tolman, Guthrie, and Hull. What characterizes these investigators is their underlying assumptions about the process of learning. In essence, three basic assumptions are held to be true. First, learning is manifested by a change in behavior. Second, the environment shapes behavior. And third, the principles of contiguity (how close in time, two events must be for a bond to be formed ) and reinforcement (any means of increasing the likelihood that an event will be repeated ) are central to explaining the learning process. For behaviorism, learning is the acquisition of new behavior through conditioning. There are two types of possible conditioning: 1) Classical conditioning, where the behavior becomes a reflex response to stimulus as in the case of Pavlov's Dogs. Pavlov was interested in studying reflexes, when he saw that the dogs drooled without the proper stimulus. Although no food was in sight, their saliva still dribbled. It turned out that the dogs were reacting to lab coats. Every time the dogs were served food, the person who served the food was wearing a lab coat. Therefore, the dogs reacted as if food was on its way whenever they saw a lab coat.In a series of experiments, Pavlov then tried to figure out how these phenomena were linked. For example, he struck a bell when the dogs were fed. If the bell was sounded in close association with their meal, the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with food. After a while, at the mere sound of the bell, they responded by drooling. 2) Operant conditioning where there is reinforcement of the behavior by a reward or a punishment. The theory of operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner and is known as Radical Behaviorism. The word ‘operant’ refers to the way in which behavior ‘operates on the environment’. Briefly, a behavior may result either in reinforcement, which increases the likelihood of the behavior recurring, or punishment, which decreases the likelihood of the behavior recurring. It is important to note that, a punisher is not considered to be punishment if it does not result in the reduction of the behavior, and so the terms punishment and reinforcement are determined as a result of the actions. Within this framework, behaviorists are particularly interested in measurable changes in behavior. Educational approaches such as applied behavior analysis, curriculum based measurement, and direct instruction have emerged from this model.
Main article: Cognitivism (psychology)
The earliest challenge to the behaviorists came in a publication in 1929 by Bode, a gestalt psychologist. He criticized behaviorists for being too dependent on overt behavior to explain learning. Gestalt psychologists proposed looking at the patterns rather than isolated events. Gestalt views of learning have been incorporated into what have come to be labeled cognitive theories. Two key assumptions underlie this cognitive approach: (1) that the memory system is an active organized processor of information and (2) that prior knowledge plays an important role in learning. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning. Cognitivists consider how human memory works to promote learning. For example, the physiological processes of sorting and encoding information and events into short term memory and long term memory are important to educators working under the cognitive theory. The major difference between gestaltists and behaviorists is the locus of control over the learning activity . For gestaltists, it lies with the individual learner; for behaviorists, it lies with the environment. Once memory theories like the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model and Baddeley's working memory model were established as a theoretical framework in cognitive psychology, new cognitive frameworks of learning began to emerge during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Today, researchers are concentrating on topics like cognitive load and information processing theory. These theories of learning are very useful as they guide instructional design. . Aspects of cognitivism can be found in learning how to learn, social role acquisition, intelligence, learning, and memory as related to age.
Main article: Constructivism (learning theory) Constructivism views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge or experience. In other words, "learning involves constructing one's own knowledge from one's own experiences." 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. This is also known as social constructivism (see social constructivism). Social constructivists posit that knowledge is constructed when individuals engage socially in talk and activity about shared problems or tasks. Learning is seen as the process by which individuals are introduced to a culture by more skilled members"(Driver et al., 1994) Constructivism itself has many variations, such as Active learning, discovery learning, and knowledge building. Regardless of the variety, constructivism promotes a student's free exploration within a given framework or structure.The teacher acts as a facilitator who encourages students to discover principles for themselves and to construct knowledge by working to solve realistic problems. Aspects of constructivism can be found in self-directed learning, transformational learning,experiential learning, situated cognition, and reflective practice.
Informal and post-modern theories
Informal theories of education deal with more practical breakdown 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 favor the latter, though without any basis in real world research. Critics believe that trying to teach an overall idea without details (facts) is like trying to build a masonry structure without bricks. 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. However, real world results indicate that isolated students fail. Social support seems crucial for sustained learning. Informal learning theory also concerns itself with book vs real-world experience learning. Many consider most schools severely lacking in the second. Newly emerging hybrid instructional models combining traditional classroom and computer enhanced instruction promise the best of both worlds.
Other learning theories
Other learning theories have also been developed. These learning theories may have a more specific purpose than general learning theories. For example, andragogy is the art and science to help adults learn. Connectivism is a recent theory of networked learning which focuses on learning as making connections Multimedia learning theory focuses on principles for the effective use of multimedia in learning. The Sudbury Model learning theory adduces that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. This theory states that there are many ways to learn without the intervention of a teacher
Cognitive Learning Theory
from notes on Ormond's Human Learning [ref: Ormrod, J.E. (1999). Human learning (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: PrenticeHall.] Since the 1960's cognitivism has provided the predominant perspective within which Learning Research has been conducted and theories of learning have evolved. History of and assumptions of cognitivism: Edward Tolman proposed a theory that had a cognitive flair. He was a behaviorist but valued internal mental phenomena in his explanations of how learning occurs. Some of his central ideas were: Behavior should be studied at a local level. Learning can occur without reinforcement. Learning can occur without a change in behavior. Intervening variables must be considered. Behavior is purposive. Expectations of fact behavior. Learning results in an organized body of information. Based on his research of rats, Tolman proposed that rats and other organisms develop cognitive maps of their environments. They learn where different parts of the environment are situated in relation to one another. The concept of a cognitive map also called a mental map has continued to be a focus of research. Gestalt psychology: Gestalt psychologist emphasized the importance of organizational processes of perception, learning, and problem solving. They believed that individuals were predisposed to organize information in particular ways. The basic ideas of Gestalt psychology are:
1. Perception is often different from reality. This includes optical illusions. 2. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. They believed that human experience cannot be explained unless the overall experience is examined instead of individual parts of experience. 3. The organism structures and organizes experience. The German word Gestalt means "structured whole." This means an organism structures experience even though structure might not be necessarily inherent. 4. The organism is predisposed to organize experience in particular ways. For example, the law of proximity is that people tend to perceive as a unit those things that are close together in space. Second example: similar people tend to perceive as a unit those things that are similar to one another. Problem-solving involves restructuring and insight. It was proposed that problem-solving involves mentally combining and re-combining the various elements of a problem until a structure that solves the problem is achieved.
Piaget's developmental theory
Besides psychology, Piaget was interested in epistemology. Piaget used something he called the clinical method. This was research in which he gave children a series of tasks or problems, asking questions about each one. He then tailored his interviews to the particular responses that each child gave. His followup questions varied from child to child. This methodology was very different from the methods of contemporary behaviorist research. Piaget's ideas about human learning: People are active processors of information. Instead of being passive respondents to environmental conditions, human beings are actively involved and interpreting and learning from the events around them. Knowledge can be described in terms of structures that change with development. Piaget proposed the concept of schema. As children develop, new schemes emerge, and are sometimes integrated with each other into cognitive structures. Cognitive development results from the interactions that children have with their physical and social environments. As a child explores his world, and eventually they began to discover that they hold a perspective of the world uniquely their own. The process through which people interact with the environment remains constant. According to Piaget, people interact with their
environment through to unchanging processes known as assimilation and accommodation. In accommodation, an individual either modifies an existing scheme or forms a new one to account for the new event. In assimilation an individual interacts with an object or event in a way that is consistent with an existing scheme. People are intrinsically motivated to try to make sense of the world around them. According to this view, people are sometimes in the state of equilibrium, they can comfortably explain new events in terms of their existing schemes. However at times they can encounter events they cannot explain our make sense of this is called disequilibrium, a mental discomfort. Through reorganizing thought people are able to then understand the previously un-understandable and return to equilibrium. Cognitive development occurs in distinct stages, with thought processes at each stage being qualitatively different from those and other stages. Piaget's four stages: Sensorimotor stage: Preoperational stage: Concrete Operations: Formal Operations: Sensorimotor stage: from birth until about two years of age. At this age children are only aware of objects that are directly before them, thus the saying, "out of sight, out of mind." (Example: The game of "peek-a-boo" is enjoyed only by infants. Their joy in this game comes from their "finding" the adult -- who"hides" by blocking the child's view and thus "disappears" and "re-appears" as the child experiences it.) Preoperational stage: emerges when children are about two years old until they are about six to seven years old. This is the stage of language development. Expanding childrens’ vocabularies reflect the many new mental schemes that are developing. This stage is characterized by a logical thinking, but not according toadult standards. A classic example is how young children cannot understand conservation of liquid. They will usually think that a taller glass has more water than a short glass even though both have been demonstrated to have the exact same amount of water. Concrete operations: this third stage of cognitive development appears when children are six or seven years old and continues until they are about 11 or 12
years old. Children begin to think logically about conservation problems and other situations as well. However, they typically can apply their logical operations only to concrete, observable objects and events. Formal operations: the fourth and final stage usually appears after children are 11 or 12 years of age and continues to evolve for several years after that time. During this time the child develops the ability to reason with abstract, hypothetical, and contrary-to-fact information. [It must be noted that some recent research does not confirm Piaget's four stages in their entirety.]
Vygotsky's developmental theory:
This Russian psychologist conducted numerous studies of children's thinking. Some of his most influential ideas are: 1. Complex mental processes began as social activities. As children develop, they gradually analyze these processes and can use them independently of those around him. Vygotsky called this process of social activities being internalized as mental activities "internalization." 2. Children can often accomplish more difficult tasks when they have the assistance of other people more advanced and competent than themselves. 3. Tasks within the zone of proximal development promote maximum cognitive growth. This is the zone of learning for a child where he can learn something with the assistance of others. Without such assistance he would not be able to learn the subject. 4. The idea of scaffolding learning comes from Vygotsky's zone of proximal development theory. Scaffolding refers to learning situations in which adults and other more competent individuals provide some form of guidance or structure that enables students to engage in learning activities within their zone of proximal development. <>Verbal Learning Research <>Verbal learning research is another area that has affected cognitive theory. Verbal learning research studied serial learning and paired social learning. Serial learning is characterized by a particular pattern. People usually learn the first few items and the last few items first of a list (i.e., they are more likely to forget items from the middle of the list than the beginning or the end).
Overlearning is learning something to the level of mastery and then practicing additionally. Overlearned material is more easily recalled at a later time. Distributed practice is easily more effective than massed practice. This is the idea of spreading study out over time instead of into one long cram session. Learning in one situation often affects learning and recall in a later situation. The characteristics of the material affect the speed with which people can learned it. For example, items aremore quickly learned when they are meaningful, pronounceable, concrete rather than abstract, or able to be mentally visualized. People often impose meaning when learning new information. People organize what they learn. People often use coding strategies to help them learn. (Examples: mnemonics -- like the strategy of remembering "HOMES" as a mnemonic for the names of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior; or a rhyme, like "In 1492, Columbus sailded the ocean blue" to remember that date) People are more likely to learn general ideas than to learn words verbatim.
Introduction to Contemporary Cognitivism
General assumptions of cognitive theories: 1. Some learning processes may be unique to human beings. (Example, complex language.) 2. Cognitive processes are the focus of study. Mental events are central to human learning and they must therefore be incorporated into theories of learning. 3. The objective, systematic observations of peoples' behavior should be the focus of scientific inquiry; however, inferences about unobservable mental process can often be drawn from such study. 4. Individuals are actively involved in the learning process. They are not passive receivers of environmental conditions, they are active participants in that learning process. In fact, they can control their own learning.
5. Learning involves the formation of mental associations that are not necessarily reflected in overt behavior changes. This is very contrary to the behaviorist position, where no learning can happen without an external behavior change. This is contrasted with behavioral objectives. 6. Knowledge is organized. An individual's knowledge is self organized through various mental associations and structure. 7. Learning is a process of relating new information to previously learned information. Learning is most likely to occur when an individual can associate new learning with previous knowledge. Information Processing Theory This theory focuses on how people process the information they receive from the environment; how they perceive the stimuli around them, how they put what they've perceived into their memories, and how they find what they have learned when they need to use the knowledge. Constructivism: In the last 30 years, it has become apparent that people don't just receive information at face value. Instead, learners do a great deal with the information they acquire, theyt actively organize and try to make sense of it. This is often done in a unique and special way. Most cognitive theories now show learning as a construction of knowledge rather than just a reception or absorption of knowledge from the surrounding world. Contextual views: Several cognitive theories have emerged that place considerable emphasis on the importance of the immediate environment (i.e., the context) in learning and behavior. This view includes the zone of proximal development. Contextual use of learning has many labels, such as situated learning, situated cognition, and distributed intelligence. Distributed intelligence is shown when we think about and discuss ideas with others and think more intelligently than when we think alone.
General educational implications of cognitive theories:
1. Cognitive processes influence learning. 2. Learning difficulties often indicate ineffective or inappropriate cognitive processes, especially for children with learning disabilities, who tend to process
information less effectively. Therefore, teachers need to be aware that all students are trying to learn something, as well as what they are trying to learn. 3. As children grow, they become capable of increasingly more sophisticated thought. 4. People organize the things they learn. Therefore, teachers can facilitate students' learning by presenting information in an organized manner. This organization should reflect students' previous knowledge and show how one thing relates to the other (i.e., helping students understand and make connections). 5. New information is most easily acquired when people can associate it with things they have already learned. Teachers should then show how new ideas relate to previous learning. 5. People control their own learning. Ultimately students, not their teachers, determine what things will be learned and how they will be learned.
Cognitivism is currently the predominant perspective within which human learning is described and explained. Contemporary cognitivism emphasizes mental processes and proposes that many aspects of learning may be unique to the human species. Cognitivism has affected educational theory by emphasizing the role of the teacher in terms of the instructor's effectiveness of presentation of instructional material in a manner that facilitates students' learning (e.g., helping students to review and connect previous learning on a topic before moving to new ideas about that topic, helping students understand the material by organizing it effectively, understanding differences in students' learning styles, etc.)
Overview of Behavioral Theories Behaviorism, along with several newer variations that have names like information processing theory, emphasize the learning of facts and skills that authorities, such as teachers or school boards, have decided are important. While these theories have many different names we will use the term behaviorism here. Names associated with behaviorism include John Watson, an American psychologist who was very influential in the 1920s and 1930s, and B. F. Skinner (http://18.104.22.168/INST5931/Beyond_Freedom.html), another American psychologist who had a tremendous impact on education in the 1950s and 1960s. Behavioral approaches to teaching generally involve the following: 1. Breaking down the skills and information to be learned into small units. 2. Checking student's work regularly and providing feedback as well as encouragement (reinforcement). 3. Teaching "out of context." Behaviorists generally believe that students can be taught best when the focus is directly on the content to be taught. Behavioral instruction often takes the material out of the context in which it will be used. 4. Direct or "teacher centered" instruction. Lectures, tutorials, drills, demonstrations, and other forms of teacher controlled teaching tend to dominate behavioral classrooms.
General Implications of Behavioral Theories Behavioral teaching and learning tends to focus on skills that will be used later. You learn facts about American history, for example, because it is assumed that knowing those facts will make you a better citizen when you are an adult. You learn basic mathematics computational skills because you may need them when you get a job. Behavioral learning does not, however, generally ask you to actually put the skills or knowledge you learn into use in a "real" or "authentic" situation. That will come later when you graduate and get a job. The behavioral emphasis on breaking down complex tasks, such as learning to read, into subskills that are taught separately is very common in American schools today. In the elementary school classroom, for example, students may spend many lessons on phonics skills such as consonant clusters, vowel digraphs, and diphthongs. Other literacy skills such as appropriate uses of the comma may also be taught in separate lessons, often by whole class lectures followed by individual drill activities.
Types of Instruction of Behavioral Theories
Behavioral theories support a number of different approaches to teaching. Almost all of them fall under the general category of "direct", or "teacher-centered" instruction. The approaches include tutorials, drill and practice, behavioral simulations, and programmed instruction. An approach that combines all these teaching strategies into one "system" is called an "integrated learning system" or ILS. The sections below explain several popular types of behavioral instruction. The explanations are, however, very brief. You may want to explore the links in each section that take you to examples of the different types of software. "Playing" with the software will give you a much better feel for what drill and practice or behavioral simulation software are.
Examples of Behavioral Theories Classroom Activities
Graphic Organizer/ Semantic Web
Constructivist Theory (J. Bruner)
Overview: A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given". As far as instruction is concerned, the instructor should try and encourage students to discover principles by themselves. The instructor and student should engage in an active dialog (i.e., socratic learning). The task of the instructor is to translate information to be learned into a format appropriate to the learner's current state of understanding. Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned. Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information. In his more recent work, Bruner (1986, 1990, 1996) has expanded his theoretical framework to encompass the social and cultural aspects of learning as well as the practice of law. Scope/Application: Bruner's constructivist theory is a general framework for instruction based upon the study of cognition. Much of the theory is linked to child development research (especially Piaget ). The ideas outlined in Bruner (1960) originated from a conference focused on science and math learning. Bruner illustrated his theory in the context of mathematics and social science programs for young children (see Bruner, 1973). The original development of the framework for reasoning processes is described in Bruner, Goodnow & Austin (1951). Bruner (1983) focuses on language learning in young children. Note that Constructivism is a very broad conceptual framework in philosophy and science and Bruner's theory represents one particular perspective. For an overview of other Constructivist frameworks, see http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/constructivism.html. Example:
This example is taken from Bruner (1973): "The concept of prime numbers appears to be more readily grasped when the child, through construction, discovers that certain handfuls of beans cannot be laid out in completed rows and columns. Such quantities have either to be laid out in a single file or in an incomplete row-column design in which there is always one extra or one too few to fill the pattern. These patterns, the child learns, happen to be called prime. It is easy for the child to go from this step to the recognition that a multiple table , so called, is a record sheet of quantities in completed mutiple rows and columns. Here is factoring, multiplication and primes in a construction that can be visualized." Principles: 1. Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness). 2. Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student (spiral organization). 3. Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given). References: Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1973). Going Beyond the Information Given. New York: Norton. Bruner, J. (1983). Child's Talk: Learning to Use Language. New York: Norton. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1996). The Culture of Education, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J., Goodnow, J., & Austin, A. (1956). A Study of Thinking. New York: Wiley. More about Bruner can be found at:
Constructivist Learning Theory
The Museum and the Needs of People CECA (International Committee of Museum Educators) Conference Jerusalem Israel, 15-22 October 1991 Prof. George E. Hein Lesley College. Massachusetts USA Introduction The latest catchword in educational circles is "constructivism, " applied both to learning theory and to epistemology---both to how people learn, and to the nature of knowledge.1,2 We don't need to succumb to each new fad, but we do need to think about our work in relation to theories of learning and knowledge. So we need to ask: what is constructivism, what does it have to tell us that is new and relevant, and how do we apply it to our work? As far as I can see, there is nothing dramatically new in constructivism: the core ideas expressed by it have been clearly enunciated by John Dewey among others, but there is a new, widespread acceptance of this old set of ideas. and new research in cognitive psychology to support it. I would like to give a brief exposition of ideas central to constructivism and widely accepted today by educators. curriculum developers and cognitive psychologists, and then suggest what they mean for museum educators. Constructivism What is meant by constructivism? The term refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves---each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning---as he or she learns. 3 Constructing meaning is learning; there is no other kind. The dramatic consequences of this view are twofold; 1) we have to focus on the learner in thinking about learning (not on the subject/lesson to be taught): 2) There is no knowledge independent of the meaning attributed to experience (constructed) by the learner, or community of learners. Let me discuss the second point first because, although it appears radical on an everyday level, it is a position which has been frequently adopted ever since people began to ponder epistemology. If we accept constructivist theory (which means we are willing to follow in the path of Dewey, Piaget and Vigotsky among others), then we have to give up Platonic and all subsequent realistic views of epistemology. We have to recognize that there is no such thing as knowledge "out there" independent of the knower, but only knowledge we construct for ourselves as we learn. 4 Learning is not understanding the "true" nature of things, nor is it (as Plato suggested) remembering dimly perceived perfect ideas, but rather a personal and social construction of meaning out of the bewildering array of sensations which have no order or structure besides the explanations (and I stress the plural) which we fabricate for them. I'm sure that many of you have had philosophy courses which have exposed you to these concepts, and you may accept this basic premise that there is no such entity as a Ding an
sich whether or not we can perceive it. Yet we all tend to remain closet realists, and refute Bishop Berkeley, as Samuel Johnson did, by kicking the stone and feeling real pain. The more important question is, does it actually make any difference in our everyday work whether deep down we consider knowledge to be about some "real" world independent of us, or whether we consider knowledge to be of our own making? The answer is yes, it does make a difference, because of the first point I suggested above: in our profession our epistemological views dictate our pedagogic views. If we believe that knowledge consists of learning about the real world out there, then we endeavor first and foremost to understand that world, organize it in the most rational way possible, and, as teachers, present it to the learner. This view may still engage us in providing the learner with activities, with hands-on learning, with opportunities to experiment and manipulate the objects of the world, but the intention is always to make clear to the learner the structure of the world independent of the learner. We help the learner understand the world. but we don't ask him to construct his or her own world. The great triumph of Western intellectual history from the Enlightenment until the beginning of the 2Oth century rested on its ability to organize the knowledge of the world in a rational way independent of the learner, determined by some structure of the subject. Disciplines were developed, taxonomic schemes established, and all these categories were viewed as components of a vast mechanical machine in which the parts could be explained in terms of their relationship to each other, and each part contributed to making the whole function smoothly. Nowhere in this description does the learner appear. The task of the teacher was to make clear to the learner the working of this machine and any accommodation to the learner was only to account for different appropriate entry points for different learners. However, as I have indicated above, constructivist theory requires that we turn our attention by 180 degrees we must turn our back on any idea of an all-encompassing machine which describes nature and instead look towards all those wonderful, individual living beings---the learners---each of whom creates his or her own model to explain nature. If we accept the constructivist position we are inevitably required to follow a pedagogy which argues that we must provide learners with the opportunity to: a) interact with sensory data, and b) construct their own world. 5 This second point is a little harder for us to swallow, and most of us constantly vacillate between faith that our learners will indeed construct meaning which we will find acceptable (whatever we mean by that) and our need to construct meaning for them; that is, to structure situations that are not free for learners to carry out their own mental actions, but "learning" situations which channel them into our ideas about the meaning of experience. A common example of the unresolved tension is our attitude towards museum tours which explain exhibits to the visitor. I have repeatedly asked museum professionals if they personally enjoy guided tours, and they almost universally tell me that they try to avoid them at all costs. Yet, at CECA meetings (and this one is no exception) our colleagues frequently give us extensive guided tours through galleries, insisting on presenting the expert guide's interpretation, pace and selection to influence the viewer's
perception and learning. It is this tension between our desire as teachers to teach the truth, to present the world "as it really is", and our desire to let learners construct their own world which requires us to think seriously about epistemology and pedagogy. 6 Principles of learning What are some guiding principles of constructivist thinking that we must keep in mind when we consider our role as educators? I will outline a few ideas, all predicated on the belief that learning consists of individuals' constructed meanings and then indicate how they influence museum education. 1. Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it. The more traditional formulation of this idea involves the terminology of the active learner (Dewey's term) stressing that the learner needs to do something; that learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge which exists "out there" but that learning involves the learner s engaging with the world. 7 2. People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning. For example, if we learn the chronology of dates of a series of historical events, we are simultaneously learning the meaning of a chronology. Each meaning we construct makes us better able to give meaning to other sensations which can fit a similar pattern. 8 3. The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind. Physical actions, hands-on experience may be necessary for learning, especially for children, but it is not sufficient; we need to provide activities which engage the mind as well as the hands.9 (Dewey called this reflective activity.) 4. Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning. On the empirical level. researchers have noted that people talk to themselves as they learn. On a more general level. there is a collection of arguments, presented most forcefully by Vigotsky, that language and learning are inextricably intertwined. 10 This point was clearly emphasized in Elaine Gurain's reference to the need to honor native language in developing North American exhibits. The desire to have material and programs in their own language was an important request by many members of various Native American communities. 5. Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings, our teachers, our peers, our family as well as casual acquaintances, including the people before us or next to us at the exhibit. We are more likely to be successful in our efforts to educate if we recognize this principle rather than try to avoid it. Much of traditional education, as Dewey pointed out, is directed towards isolating the learner from all social interaction, and towards seeing education as a one-onone relationship between the learner and the objective material to be learned. In contrast, progressive education (to continue to use Dewey's formulation) recognizes the social aspect of learning and uses conversation, interaction with others, and the application of knowledge as an integral aspect of learning. 11
6. Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from the rest of our lives: we learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears. 12 On reflection, it becomes clear that this point is actually a corollary of the idea that learning is active and social. We cannot divorce our learning from our lives. 13 7. One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. 14 The more we know, the more we can learn. Therefore any effort to teach must be connected to the state of the learner, must provide a path into the subject for the learner based on that learner's previous knowledge. 15 8. It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous. For significant learning we need to revisit ideas, ponder them try them out, play with them and use them. This cannot happen in the 5-10 minutes usually spent in a gallery (and certainly not in the few seconds usually spent contemplating a single museum object.) If you reflect on anything you have learned, you soon realize that it is the product of repeated exposure and thought. Even, or especially, moments of profound insight, can be traced back to longer periods of preparation. 9. Motivation is a key component in learning. Not only is it the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning. This ideas of motivation as described here is broadly conceived to include an understanding of ways in which the knowledge can be used. Unless we know "the reasons why", we may not be very involved in using the knowledge that may be instilled in us. even by the most severe and direct teaching. 16 The meaning of constructivism for museums Having suggested these principles, I want to reflect on what they may mean for our specific day- to-day work both in mounting exhibits and in developing educational programs. Points #1 and 3 Most museum educators have accepted the idea that learners need to be active, that in order to participate in learning we need to engage the learner in doing something, in hands-on involvement, in participatory exhibits and programs. But the more important point, I believe, is the idea that the actions which we develop for our audience engage the mind as well as the hand. Not all experiences are educative, as Dewey pointed out in Experience and Education. This does not mean that they necessarily have to be complex---but they do need to allow the participants to think as they act. I recently saw a videotape of a group of children building a cardboard ramp which would serve as an inclined plane for an experiment they were to do. What the video tape showed was a fifteen-minute period in which the children spent time measuring, constructing (and wandering around) with little idea of what they were building or why they were building it. It was a hands-on activity that was not likely to be educative as intended for two reasons: a) The children had no chance to incorporate what they were doing into a larger picture: the focus was on completing a task, which for them must have appeared to be
just one more of the senseless requirements of school. b) There was no opportunity to alter the task to fit the meaning-making of any individual student. They all simply measured strips of paper 24 inches long (the US is still not on the metric system) and 1.5" wide, everyone following the same recipe with no variation. By way of contrast, I have watched adults look at a map of England at the dock where the Mayflower replica is berthed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Repeatedly, adults will come to the map, look at it and then begin to discuss where their families come from. (I could imagine an even more elaborate exhibit at the same place which would include a map of the world and different ways in which people have immigrated to the US, so that all visitors could find something to interest them.) But at least for those who trace their roots back to England, here is an interactive exhibit (even if there is little to "do" except point and read) which allows each visitor to take something personal and meaningful from it and relate to the overall museum experience. For me, the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv came alive when I had the opportunity to call up family genealogies on the computer in the reference center. The opportunity to view and manipulate a library of family trees covering several generations and a wide geographical distribution, gave personal meaning to the idea of a Diaspora. Physical involvement is a necessary condition for learning for children, and highly desirable for adults in many situations, but it is not sufficient. All hands-on activities must also pass the test of being minds-on---they must provide something to think about as well as something to touch. Point #2 The idea that we learn to learn as we learn, that we begin to understand organizing principles as we use them, is not terribly radical to most of us, but I believe that there is an important manner of formulating it that can help us, which sometimes eludes us: What are we assuming about our visitors' ability to learn (to organize knowledge) when we present exhibits to them? What organizing schemes do we attribute to them, that may or may not be available to them? Let me give you an example. During the last year we have been observing visitors at the Boston Museum of Science interacting with a series of exhibits developed originally at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. We asked them what they thought of the exhibits. Some visitors did not have the tools they needed to get the concept of the exhibit. I don't mean that they did not understand the concept (that will be my next point) but that they did not have the organizing principles, and thus the learning tools. For example, there are exhibits which require visitors to turn knobs which will cause a component of the exhibit to move or change. Not all visitors are clear about the relationship between the knob and what it does. The exhibit is intended to explain a causal relationship between two variables in nature; one variable is altered by turning the knob and that change then causes the other variable to respond and vary. But if the visitor does not understand about knobs and what they do, then the message of the exhibit cannot possibly be understood.
A similar issue concerns chronologies and time lines, which are common devices in history museums. Do we know that our visitors understand chronology? Are we positive that our visitors can appreciate a time line, for example, and can recognize that the distribution of dates in linear space may be intended to approximate their distribution in chronological time? There is considerable evidence that at least some visitors (i.e. children) cannot follow such reasoning; there is less evidence that any significant number of visitors can. 17 Maybe we need to teach our visitors to understand time lines through simple examples before we present them with complex charts that span thousands of years. Ayala Gordon discussed this issue when she pointed out that in order to allow children to experience a sense of time, the Youth Wing at the Israel Museum arranged exhibits so that children and parents would talk about changes in their lifetimes. Points #4 and 5 Learning is a social activity. To what extent do we recognize that people learn as they speak and interact with each other? In evaluating an interactive exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science in which people could get information through a variety of modalities---they could read labels, listen to tapes, smell animal smells, touch animal mounts and manipulate interactive exhibit components-- -we noted that individual visitors preferred different learning modes. In family groups, the conversations became more democratic, and involved more members after all these modalities were installed, as family members shared, discussed and confirmed what each had learned while perusing his or her preferred modality. We need to ask what have we build into the exhibit that encourages visitors to discuss, to share, to find out together. Has the architecture and exhibit arrangement encouraged discussion? Some art museums have a quiet air like a church, discouraging active debate and verbal interaction. The quiet may be appropriate for individual contemplation of pictures, but perhaps these museums could provide other rooms, close to the galleries, and fitted out with reproductions' reference materials or other reminders of the paintings, which would encourage dialogue. Point #6 This is really an elaboration of the point made previously about learning to learn as one learns. Our visitors need ''hooks"---connections---in exhibits to help them understand the messages intended. An experienced museum-goer or a person knowledgeable on a given subject can be enlightened easily. But what does it mean for a naive visitor to be confronted with a whole case containing may objects? Of what value is it to the naive visitor to be invited to push this button or read a sophisticated label? It is important for exhibits to provide different kinds of entry points, using various sensory modes, different kinds of stimuli, to attract a wide range of learners. In teaching people to read, the use of different words which have powerful connections for individuals was dramatically described years ago by Sylvia Ashton-Warner18 and widely emulated since. Eurydice Retsila described a program in which children served as young ethnographers, developing individual projects of interest to them with the "assistance" of university students.
Point #7 Perhaps no other issue in constructivism raises more questions than the concern with finding the right level at which to engage the learner. Vigotsky spoke of the "zone of proximal development," 19an unfortunately cumbersome term which refers to a level of understanding that is possible when a learner engages in a task with the help of a more expert peer (i.e. a teacher). People learn as they are stretched beyond their own knowledge but only within a range that is within their grasp given what knowledge and skills they bring to a task. Point #8 Finally there is the issue of time to learn, time to reflect and time to revisit an idea. Museum educators have grappled with this problem and find it a particularly challenging one, since our audiences are free to come and go, and large fractions of them are tourists who many never return. Museum galleries are not designed as places to linger, despite our desire to have visitors spend more time there. I was impressed to note in the slide Michael Cassin showed yesterday that the National Gallery at the turn of the century had many chairs scattered around the gallery for people to sit in and contemplate the pictures. What do we do for the visitors who wish to stay with a topic longer? How have we organized our museums to accommodate them? To what extent have we provided additional resources (in addition to items which we are eager to sell to them in the nearby shop) that can satisfy the interested visitors' concerns that arise on the next day or a week after the visit? I believe that an important issue for we, as museum educators is to tackle the problem of increasing the time possible for visitors to interact with our exhibits and reflect on them, revisit them (in the mind if not directly) and therefore internalize their messages to us. Conclusion The principles of constructivism, increasingly influential in the organization of classrooms and curricula in schools, can be applied to learning in museums. The principles appeal to our modern views of learning and knowledge but conflict with traditional museum practices. We need to reflect on our practice in order to apply these ideas to our work. References 1 I will document this paper with quotes from relevant publications. See these for additional information on constructivism and its application in education. I have also indicated how the views in this paper relate to a number of ether presentations at this conference. 2 "Constructivism asserts two main principles whose applications have far-reaching consequences for the study of cognitive development and learning as well as for the practice of teaching, psychotherapy, and interpersonal management in general. The two principles are (1) knowledge is mot passively received but actively built up by the experiential world, not the discovery of ontological reality." International Encyclopedia of Education. "Constructivism In Education," 1987.
3 The ideas I will discuss here have been touched upon by other speakers at this conference, for example Tomislav Sola in his general orientation; Samuel Sas stated that "in the modem Museum the visitor is at the center, not the object;" Maria Horta Baretto stressed that the meaning of an object is given to it by the viewer; and Yaron Ezrahi discussed the subjectivity of the images of science. 4 Every genuine experience has an active side which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which experiences are had. The difference between civilization and savagery to take an example on a large scale is found in the degree in which previous experiences have changed the objective conditions under which subsequent experiences take place." J. Dewey. Experience and Education. Kappa Delta Pi, 1938. "If the view is adopted that 'knowledge' is the conceptual means to make sense of experience rather than the 'representation' of something that is supposed to lie beyond it, this shift of perspective brings with it an important corollary: the concepts and relations in terms of which we perceive and conceive the experiential world are necessarily generated by ourselves. In this sense we are responsible for the world we are experiencing." E. von Glaserfield. "An exposition of Constructivism: Why some like it radical" in R. B. Davis. C.A. Maher and N. Noddings, editors. Constructivist Views of the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics. Washington, D.C. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991. 5 As a participant stated in our discussion group, "History is made by people: it isn't a collection of facts." or as Avner Shalev stated "The role of education is not to instruct but tutorial: an approach that allows the visitor to be a consumer." 6 The meanings that learners construct do, in fact, concentrate on a limited number of conclusions. This is related to the notion that learning is social, as it happens within a culture, and perhaps for other reasons as well. A discussion of why certain views appear repeatedly is beyond the scope of this paper. That they do is evident when we consider, for example, the consistent Aristotelian" views in naive science explanations. 7 "Study is effectual in the degree in which the pupil realizes the place of the numerical truth he is dealing with in carrying to fruition activities in which he is concerned. This connection of an object and a topic with the promotion of an activity having a purpose is the first and last word of a genuine theory of interest in education." J. Dewey. Democracy and Education. MacMillan, 1916. 8 "The most important message modern research on the nature of thinking is that the kinds of activities traditionally associated with thinking are not limited to advanced levels of development. Instead these activities are an intimate part of even elementary levels of reading, mathematics and other branches of learning." L.B. Resnick . Learning to Think. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
9 ''The object enters into dialog with the learner only after being transformed by him or her. In fact, it is the set of significant units organized by the learner and the relationships that he or she constructs between them that constitutes the cognitive object that, in turn, constitutes knowledge." A Henriques. "Experiments in Teaching," in E. Duckworth, J. Easley, D. Hawkins and A Henriques. Science Education: A Minds On Approach to the Elementary Years. Erlbaum, 1990. 10 "The relationship between thought and word is not a thing but a process. a continual movement back and forth from thought to word and from word to thought: .... thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them." L.V. Vigotsky. Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press, 1962. 11 "Vigotsky was proposing that children's understanding is shaped not only through adaptive encounters with the physical world but through interactions between people in relation to the world---a world not merely physical and apprehended by the senses, but cultural, meaningful and significant, and made so primarily by language. Human knowledge and thought are themselves therefore fundamentally cultural, deriving their distinctive properties form the nature social activity, of language, discourse and other cultural forms." D. Edwards and N. Mercer. Common Knowledge: The Development of Understanding in the Classroom. London: Methuen, 1987. 12 As Mooly Broog stated in the discussion group "When you say Jerusalem, what is the visitor's concept? Each visitor, from a different community, has a totally different idea of what the city is." 13 "A fundamental way of changing the requirements for success on a particular task is to recontextualize the text presented to, and understood by, the learner. In all sample cases, the subject is initially presented with the activity---the whole task---embedded in, contextualized as part of some larger activity. For the subjects themselves, the recontextualization involves familiar scripts and human intentions." M. Cole and P. Griffin. Contextual Factors in Education. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, 1987. 14 Maria Baretto referred to this point when she stated that "we cannot identify and recognize what we don't already know ." 15 "We can learn most easily when we already know enough to have organizing schemas in L.B. Resnick and L.E Klopfer, editors. Towards the Thinking Curriculum: Current Cognitive Research. 1989 ASCD Yearbook. Alexandria, VA: American Association for Curriculum Development, 1989. 16 "Research... confirmed that acquiring skills and strategies, no matter how good one became at them, would not make one into a competent reader, writer, problem solver or thinker... The habit or disposition to use the skill and strategies, and the knowledge of when they are applied, needed to be developed as well." Resnick and Klopfer., op cit.
17 Increasingly we find that the limitations of timing described by Piaget extend longer into adulthood than Piaget would have had us believe. Research by Shayler and Adey suggests that English children shift from concrete to hypothetical-deductive later than Piaget argued; a considerable amount of research on college students indicates that many are still in concrete stages, and work with adults on science concepts often indicates that they hold "childish" views on a range of topics. 18 Teacher. New York. Simon & Schuster, 1963. 19 "...the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined by problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers." L. Vigotsky. Mind and Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.
The Five Dimensions of Learning
Learning theorists have argued that learning and development are not like an assemblyline which can be broken down into discrete steps occurring with machine-time precision, but an organic process that unfolds in complex ways according to its own pace and rhythm. Teaching and learning occurs in complex ecosystems, dynamic environments where teachers, students, materials and supplies, texts, technologies, concepts, social structures, and architectures are interdependently related and interactive. Using the Learning Record, the teacher (and student) is actively searching for, and documenting, positive evidence of student development across five dimensions: confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, use of prior and emerging experience, and critical reflection. These five dimensions cannot be "separated out" and treated individually; rather, they are dynamically interwoven. Our goals for a particular class should describe a trajectory of learning across multiple dimensions, and our measurements should be able to identify the paths taken by students and their progress from their individual starting points along that trajectory. Individually, learners can expect to make progress across these five dimensions:
Confidence and independence
We see growth and development when learners' confidence and independence become congruent with their actual abilities and skills, content knowledge, use of experience, and reflectiveness about their own learning. It is not a simple case of "more (confidence and independence) is better." In a science class, for example, an overconfident student who has relied on faulty or underdeveloped skills and strategies learns to seek help when facing an obstacle; or a shy student begins to trust her own abilities, and to insist on presenting her own point of view in discussion. In both cases, students are developing along the dimension of confidence and independence.
Skills and strategies
Skills and strategies represent the "know-how" aspect of learning. When we speak of "performance" or "mastery," we generally mean that learners have developed skills and
strategies to function successfully in certain situations. Skills and strategies are not only specific to particular disciplines, but often cross disciplinary boundaries. In a writing class, for example, students develop many specific skills and strategies involved in composing and communicating effectively, from research to concept development to organization to polishing grammar and correctness, and often including technological skills for computer communication.
Knowledge and Understanding
Knowledge and understanding refers to the "content" knowledge gained in particular subject areas. Knowledge and understanding is the most familiar dimension, focusing on the "know-what" aspect of learning. In a psychology class, knowledge and understanding might answer a wide range of questions such as, What is Freud’s concept of ego? Who was Carl Jung? What is “behaviorism”? These are typical content questions. Knowledge and understanding in such classes includes what students are learning about the topics; research methods; the theories, concepts, and practices of a discipline; the methods of organizing and presenting our ideas to others, and so on.
Use of prior and emerging experience
The use of prior and emerging experience involves learners’ abilities to draw on their own experience and connect it to their work. A crucial but often unrecognized dimension of learning is the capacity to make use of prior experience as well as emerging experience in new situations. It is necessary to observe learners over a period of time while they engage in a variety of activities in order to account for the development of this important capability, which is at the heart of creative thinking and its application. With traditional methods of evaluating learning, we cannot discover just how a learner's prior experience might be brought to bear to help scaffold new understandings, or how ongoing experience shapes the content knowledge or skills and strategies the learner is developing. In a math class, students scaffold new knowledge through applying the principles and procedures they’ve already learned: algebra depends on the capacity to apply basic arthimetic procedures, for example.
Reflection refers to the developing awareness of the learner’s own learning process, as well as more analytical approaches to the subject being studied. When we speak of reflection as a crucial component of learning, we are not using the term in its commonsense meaning of reverie or abstract introspection. We are referring to the development of the learner's ability to step back and consider a situation critically and analytically, with growing insight into his or her own learning processes, a kind of metacognition. It provides the "big picture" for the specific details. For example, students in a history class examining fragmentary documents and researching an era or event use reflection to discover patterns in the evidence and construct a historical narrative. Learners need to develop this capability in order to use what they are learning in other contexts, to recognize the limitations or obstacles confronting them in a given situation, to take advantage of their prior knowledge and experience, and to strengthen their own performance.
How Your Children Think and Learn Part 1
by Debbie Tipton
September 21, 2000
Did you know that our children are in the business of learning? They attempt to store all the things that happen to them into some type of logical form.
What is learning?
Learning is to gain knowledge, understanding, or skill. (This is in accordance with the great Webster.) An even broader definition of learning is "any permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of a practice or an experience." This makes what we teach our children even more important as it has the potential to have a lasting affect in their behavior.
How do children think?
Children are a bundle of ideas and thoughts. If you ever really look at your child you will see that these thought patterns are much different than that of an adult and can certainly be expressed in much different ways. There are four different stages of learning or development that each child goes through.
This is form the ages of birth to about two years old. During this time the child's primary mode of learning occurs through the five senses. S/he learns to experience environment. The child touches things, holds, looks, listens, tastes, feels, bangs, and shakes everything in sight. For this child the sense of time is now and the sense of space is here. When the child adds motor skills such as creeping, crawling, and walking -- watch out -- his/her environment expands by leaps and bounds. The child is now exploring their environment with both senses and the ability to get around. This just doubled your job as a parent because now you need to start dealing with such things as protection and guidance. This mode of learning actually continues through the age of twelve, but becomes less acute as the years go by.
This is the stages between ages two and seven. During this stage the child is busy gathering information or learning, and then trying to figure out ways that they can used what they have learned to begin solving problems.
During this stage of his/her life your child will be thinking in specifics and will find it very difficult to generalize anything. An example would be a ball: A ball is not something that you use to play a game, it is just something that you throw. This is the time when a child learns by asking questions. You will begin to think that if you hear the word why just one more time that you will go crazy. The child generally will not want a real answer to his question at this point. When he asks why do we have grass --- He simply wants to know that it is for him to play in. No technical answers for know. The child in this age group judges everything the me basis How does it affect me? Do I like it? You get the idea! This child also has no ability to go back in time and reason. If you miss your opportunity to explain or punish when it happens -- forget it for they have. This is a lot of information at one time, so, tomorrow we will be discussing the other ways in which a child can learn. We will also be talking about what we can expect out of our children during those times.
"How Adults Learn" If you want to skyrocket your own or others' learning and obliterate the "no pain no gain" mentality from your learning life forever then you need to know how you can benefit from the techniques you'll learn from this ebook.
With this ebook you will gain access to everything you need to know to completely transform your learning. But that's not all ... ... Because this six step strategy ALSO answers your questions, doubts, concerns, or needs about how adults learn best. Armed with all these amazing strategies to give you an unfair advantage in the learning game, you're going to be so busy learning that you will forget what it used to be like! Not only will you discover everything you need to know about how adults can use the Accelerated Learning strategies in the book but you will also discover how to make learning fun and as easy as possible. You'll learn how to...
Use the diagnostics included in the book to identify and find the hottest ways for you to learn. You will discover ways that make you get excited, make learning easy and pleasurable and open up a whole new world of learning for YOU. It will enable you to become the best learner and teacher or trainer around your friends will all be asking you what you did! Work from what you ALREADY know why in your hobbies or pleasures you actually learn really fast. You’ll be amazed, shocked, and astounded at how easy it is to find and pass important information that others want to know about! You'll suddenly recognise why you do what YOU do and why others do what they do. Work from what you DON'T know you will understand how your brain works, and how to change the way you look at life for the better. Pass these strategies on to people around you and help them as well! If you want to get ahead or be the best you will learn the best, practical methods which you can apply to enhance learning these can be applied to any area of your life where you need to learn any information be it at work, in your hobbies or any other area of your life
Motivation is a concept that helps explain why people think and behave as they do. Though we may be familiar with the term, truly understanding how it affects each of us is much more difficult. Moreover, how it applies to education is less wellknown. Motivation is important for education for the following reasons:<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> A motivated person will surpass an unmotivated person in performance and outcomes. Basically, when there is no motivation to learn, there is no learning. Instruction with motivated learners can be joyful and exciting. Learners who leave the educational environment feeling motivated are more likely to have a future interest in what they learned and are more likely to use what they have learned. • Outstanding effort can be limited by the learner’s ability or by the quality of instruction. • One of the most commonly measured indicators of motivation is persistence, and when this exists, people work longer and with more intensity. Intrinsic motivation is an internal energy called forth by circumstances that connect with what is culturally significant to the person. In other words, intrinsic motivation relates to those things that are near and dear to us because of values, beliefs, or circumstances. • • • • Intrinsic motivation affects adult learning in the following manners: • Rather than try to know what “to do to” learners, we work with them to deepen their existing intrinsic motivation and knowledge. Seeing learners as unique and active, we emphasize communication and respect, realizing that through understanding and sharing our resources together, we create greater energy for learning. Instead of a focus on intrinsic motivation, some adult education is dominated by extrinsic motivation or external rewards ("carrot and stick"). Unfortunately, this attitude tends to keep learners more dependent on the instructor and in need of further help. Because learning is the act of making meaning from experience for people, involving all learners requires us to be aware of how they make sense of their world and how they interpret their learning environment. This helps adults connect who they are with what they learn for greater levels of intrinsic motivation.
Connecting intrinsic motivation to adult learning: • Adults will choose vocational and practical education that leads to knowledge about “how to do something.” • Adults are keen to success indicators which help to signify accomplishments of learning tasks, i.e. the "ahha!" learning moment. This causes adults to seek out and become engaged in learning activities where this is present.
The University of Florida's Nick Place, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, shares about adult motivation and the foundational principles of motivation in this narrated PowerPoint presentation.