Saturday, March 7, 2009

Methodologies and Theories of Learning

What is the best theory or methodology to use in the learning process? Is there a best one or is it that we must research and find the one that meets the need of the learner? What theory is best to use with an online class or a face to face class? Do we follow the traditional way of teaching or do we branch out to nontraditional teaching methods?

How we answer these questions depends on the needs of the learner. In todays' learning environment we try to offer several different theories/methodologies to reach all learners. We need to understand learning styles and behaviors of our learners.

In the Constructivism approach, we develop learning to reflect learning from prior knowledge. It includes a hands on approach. This approach encourages students to reflect on prior knowledge and analyze, interpret and predict outcomes. Instructors encourage open communication and discussion among the learner. This approach allows the learner to evaluate their own progress to determine where they are and what they need to do to accomplish the goal.

In Piaget's theory he identifies four stages of learning. As the child develops through these stages (Sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operations stage, and formal operations stage) they experience the world using mental maps and if he/she repeats the experiences they maintain logical sequences of learning. This theory impacts learning by providing developmentally appropriate curriculum.

Another theory is the brain-based learning model. The brain is allowed to go through normal processes for learning to occur. With this theory we create learning environments that give the learner a challenging learning environment. The students in honors classes are assigned more activities and creative challenges to complete than students in a regular classroom environment. When instructors create and design curriculum, they use activities that target students' interest allowing them to monitor their learning style and taking responsibility for what they learn.

As students learn and process information in different ways, instructors are challenged to develop and design curriculum to meet the diverse needs of the learner.

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