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Skinners Behaviorist Theories of

Learning : Building on the
S-R Connection

Basic Teachings
Internal processes involved in learning could not
be seen directly.
Concentrated on cause and effect relationships
that could be established by observation.

Human behavior could be shaped by

contingencies of reinforcement or situations in
which reinforcement for a learner is made
contingent on a desired response.

THREE kinds of situations that

can shape behavior
Positive Reinforcement

Negative Reinforcement

Implications for Education

Teaching is a process of arranging contingencies
of reinforcement effectively to bring about learning
High level of capabilities as critical thinking and
creativity could be taught by reinforcement

Learning is simply a matter of establishing chains

of behavior through principles of reinforcement
Programmed instruction is the most efficient
means available for learning skills

Basic Teachings
Modern instructional design models and methods
have their roots in Gagne.

One component of a systematic instructional

design process was the use of learning hierarchies
to develop curriculum maps.

Implications for Technology

Most drill and practice softwares were based on
Skinners reinforcement principles.
Tutorial software usually is based on the idea of
programmed instruction.

The idea behind drill software is to increase the

frequency of correct answering in response to
stimuli, these packages often are used to help
students memorize important basic information,
while tutorial software gives students an efficient
path through concepts they want to learn.

The Information-Processing Theorists:

The Mind as Computer

Basic Teachings
The mind as computer

Based on a model of memory and storage

The brain contains certain structures that process
information much like a computer

The human mind has three kinds of memories or


THREE kinds of memories or

Sensory Register

Short-Term Memory (STM)

Long-Term Memory (LTM)

Implications for Education

Become the basis for many common classroom
practices. (for example, teachers ask interesting
questions and display eye-catching materials to
increase the likelihood that students will pay
attention to the new topic)
While presenting information they give instruction
that emphasizes important points and
characteristics in the new material and suggests
methods of encoding or remembering them by
linking them to information students already know.

Implications for Education

Teachers also give students practice exercise to
help ensure the transfer of information from shortterm memory to long-term memory.
The use of Gagnes Bottom-up approach
students learn lower skills first.
Ausubels Top-down approach teachers provide
advance organizer or overviews of the way
information will be presented to help students
develop mental frameworks on which to hang
new information.

Implications for Technology

Information Processing Theories have guided the
development of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
applications an attempt to develop computer
software that can stimulate the thinking and
learning behaviors of humans.
Many of the drill and practice softwares available
are designed to help students encode and store
newly learned information into long-term memory.

Gagnes Principles: Providing Tools for

the Teachers

Basic Teachings
Gagne built on the work of behavioral and
information processing theories by translating
principles from their learning theories into practical
instructional strategies that teachers could employ
with directed instruction.
Gagne is best known for his events of
instruction, Types of learning, and learning

9 Events of Instruction
1. Gaining Attention

2. Informing the learner of the objective

3. Stimulating recall of pre-requisite knowledge
4. Presenting new material

5. Providing learning guidance

6. Eliciting performance
7. Providing feedback about correctness
8. Assessing performance
9. Enhancing retention and recall

Types of Learning
1. Intellectual skills
Problem solving
Higher order rules

Defined concepts
Concrete concepts


2. Cognitive Strategies
3. Verbal information

4. Motor skills
5. Attitudes

Learning Hierarchies
The development of intelelctual skills requires
learning that amounts to a building process.
Lower level skills provide a necessary foundation
for higher level ones.
To teach a skill, a teacher must first identify its
prerequisite skills and make sure the students
possess them.
The list of building block skills is called learning

Implications for Education

The events of instruction and learning hierarchies
have been widely used to develop systematic
instructional design principles.
Many school curriculum development projects still
use a learning hierarchy approach to sequencing

Implications for Technology

Gagnes events of instruction could be used to
plan lessons using each kind of instructional
software (drill, tutorial, simulation)
Only tutorial could stand by itself and accomplish
all the necessary events of instruction.
The other kinds of software require teacher-led
activities to accomplish events before and after
software use.

John Dewey: Educational Reform as

Social Activism

Basic Teachings
Curriculum should arise from students interests.
Curriculum topics should be integrated, rather
than isolated from each other.
Education is growth, rather than an end in itself.
Education occurs through its connection with life,
rather than through participation in curriculum.
Learning should be hands-on and experience
based, rather than abstract.

Implications for Education

Deweys philosophy directly caused some of the
trends in current educational practice like
interdisciplinary curriculum, hands-on, experience
based curriculum.

Implications for Technology

Dewey would likely have approved of technologies
like the internet being used to help students
communicate with each other and learn about
their society.

Deweys emphasis on the need for cooperative

learning would mesh well with technologies used
for developing group projects and presentations.

The Contributions of Lev Vygotsky:

Building a Scaffold to Learning

Basic Teachings
Cognitive development is directly related to and
based on social development.

What children learn and how they think are

derived directly from the culture around them.
The social world is the source of all concepts,
ideas, facts, skills, and attitudes.

Zone of Proximal Development

ZPD refers to the difference between the levels of
cognitive functioning of an adult expert and childnovice.
Teachers could provide good instruction by finding
out where each child was in his or her
development and building on the childs

This building process is called Scaffolding.

Teachers promote students cognitive development
by presenting some classroom tasks that they can
complete only with assistance, i.e. within each

Implications for Education

Education is intended to develop childrens
Human personality is linked to its creative
Teaching and learning assume that students
master their inner values through some personal
The most valuable methods for student learning
are those that correspond to their individual
developmental stages and needs, and therefore,
can not be uniform across students.

Implications for Technology

Many constructivists models of technology use the
concepts of scaffolding and developing each
individuals potential.
Many of the visual tools are used under the
assumption that they can help bring the student
up from their level of understanding to a higher
level by showing graphic examples and by giving
them real-life experiences relevant to their
individual neds.

Jean Piagets Theories: Cognitive

Development in Children

Basic Teachings
Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2)
Pre-Operational Stage ( 2 to 7)

Concrete Operational Stage (7 to 11)

Formal Operational Stage (12 to 15)

Sensorimotor Stage (birth to 2)

Children explore the world around them through
their senses and motor activities

Children can not differentiate between themselves

and their environment
Children begin to have some perceptions of cause
and effects.
Children develop the ability to follow something
with their eyes.

Pre-operational Stage (2 to 7)
They develop greater abilities to communicate
through speech and engage in symbolic activities
such as drawing objects and playing by pretending
and imagining.

Develop numerical abilities such as the skill of

assigning a number to each object in a group as it
is counted.
Unable to do conservation task (task that call for
recognizing that a substance remains the same
even though its appearance changes)

Concrete Operational Stage

(7 to 11)
Children increase in abstract reasoning ability.
Develop ability to generalize from concrete
Can perform conservation task.

Formal Operations Stage

(12 to 15)
They can form and test hypotheses
They can organize information

They can reason scientifically

They can show results of abstract thinking in the
form of symbolic materials

Implications for Education

There is a need for concrete examples and
experiences when teaching abstract concepts to
young children who may not have reached a
formal operations stage.

Implications for Technology

Many technology using teachers feel that using
visual resources such as simulations can help raise
childrens developmental levels more quickly than
they would have occured through maturation.

Other educators feel that young children should

experience things in the real world before seeing
them represented in the more abstract ways they
are shown in software.(e.g. Computer simulations)

The Contributions of Jerome Brunner:

Learning as Discovery

Three Stages of Development

Enactive Stage (birth to 3)
Iconic Stage ( 3 to 8)

Symbolic Stage (8 and above)

Enactive Stage (birth to 3)

Children perceive the environment solely through
actions they initiate.

They describe and explain objects solely in terms

of what a child can do with them.
Showing and modeling have more learning value
than telling for children at this stage.

Iconic Stage (3 to 8)
Children can remember and use information
through imagery (mental pictures or icons).

Visual memory increases and children can imagine

or think about actions without actually
experiencing them.
Decisions are made on the basis of perceptions,
rather than language.

Symbolic Stage (8 and above)

Children begin to use symbols (words or drawn
pictures) to represent people, activities, and
They have the ability to think and talk about
things in abstract terms.
They can better understand mathematical
principles and the use of symbolic idioms.

Implications for Education

Discovery learning is an approach to instruction
through which students interact with their
environment by exploring and manipulating
objects, wrestling with questions and controversies
or performing experiments.

Students were more likely to understand and

remember concepts they had discovered in the
course of their own exploration.
Teachers have found that discovery learning is
most successful when students have prerequisite knowledge and undergo some structured

Implications for Technology

Radical reconstructivist uses of technology employ
a discovery learning approach.

Use of technology as guided discovery learning


Seymour Papert

Basic Teachings
One of the first to raise national consciousness
about the potential role of technology in creating
alternatives to what he percieved as inadequate
and harmful educational methods.

He popularized the use of LOGO (a high level

programming language originally designed as an
AI language but later popularized by Papert as an
environment to allow children to learn problem
solving behaviors and skills.

Implications for Education

Children should be allowed to teach themselves
with LOGO.

In a LOGO environment, new ideas are often

acquired as a means of satisfying a personal need
to do something one could not do before.
Papert feel that children need great flexibility to
develop their own powerful ideas or insights about
new concepts.

Implications for Technology

Papert perceived Logo as a resource with ideal
properties for encouraging learning.

LOGO is graphics oriented, it allows children to see

cause and effect relationships between the logic of
programming commands and the pictures that
This logical, cause and effect quality of logo
activities makes possible microworlds, or selfcontained environments where all actions are
orderly and rule governed.

Implications for Technology

He called these microworlds, incubators for
knowledge where children could pose and test
out hypotheses.
After LOGO, technology resources began to be
evalauted according to how they could be used as
microworlds and incubators for knowledge in
which learners could generate their own

The Cognition and Technology Group at

Vanderbilt (CTGV): Tying Technology to

Basic Teachings
Preventing Inert knowledge
The nature of situated cognition and the need for
anchored instruction
Building knowledge through generative activities

Implications for Education &

Technology Integration
The CTGV proposed that the best way of providing
instruction that would meet all the required criteria
was to present it as videodisc based scenarios
posing interesting but difficult problems for
students to solve.

Gardners Theory of Multiple


Basic Teachings
Gardner is the only one to define the role of
intelligence in learning
Gardners theory is that at least 8 different and
relatively independent types of intelligence exist.





Implications for Education

If Gardners theory is correct, then IQ tests (which
tend to stress linguistic and logical mathematical
abilities) may not be the best way to judge a given
students ability to learn, and traditional academic
tasks may not be the best reflection of ability.

Teachers should try to determine which type or

types of intelligence each student has and direct
the student to learning activities that capitalize on
these innate abilities.
Distributed intelligence may be considered where
each student makes a different, but valued
contribution to creating a product.

Implications for Technology

Gardners theory meshes well with the trend
toward using technology to support group work.
When educators assign students to groups to
develop a multimedia product, they can assign
students roles based on their type of intelligence.