Reflection of Learning Theory, Learning styles, and Motivational Strategies
• What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?
As a teacher, I was aware of some of these learning theories but I was surprised to see that there was much more than I knew of regarding learning theory. Behaviorism, and cognitivism were very familiar. However, as we dove into connectivism, constructivism, social learning theory and adult learning theory, I realized how much more has been done in this area of learning. However, my biggest surprise came during this last week. I was completely unaware that so much research has been done on motivation. I had absolutely no knowledge of the ARCS method of motivation or of all the research in the area of motivation. This theory is invaluable to teachers of all types of learners, such as K-12, college and university students and of course online learners. One of the major issues teachers struggle with is student motivation. Knowing how to design instruction that will address the motivation of learners will decrease the amount of students who withdraw from courses both literally and figuratively. I enjoyed learning about the different learning theories and the method used to present these theories to us. This is a true model for how motivation can be incorporated into a course. Although, I was surprised with the motivation model discussed this week, I must keep in mind that learning is a combination of all learning theories and must pick and choose the best learning activities and strategies that go with the current content and environment.
• How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?
At the beginning of this course, I thought of myself as a visual learner and knew bits and pieces of learning theory. At this point, I understand that although I prefer a certain learning style, I use different learning styles depending on the environment and on the activity being presented. I am an adult learner, and learning about this style has helped me see how adults learn vs. students in the middle grades. This is true of all learners. Although I had a basic understanding of learning theories, I now leave this course with a much deeper understanding of how to differentiate on learning theory from another and how they can work together to create a better learning environment for learners. One very important piece of information, I think I should mention here is that although I was using various strategies with my students, I never really thought of the learning theory behind them. Now as I teach my students and use various strategies with them, I can tell what learning theory they support. This has allowed me to use these strategies more effectively in the classroom. However, I now can use various strategies both with younger students, adults, in a classroom and online. This course has given me a broader base of situation within which I will feel comfortable and confident about teaching.
• What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?
Learning theories describe how leaning occurs, what factors influence learning, the role of memory, and how transfer occurs. Each learning theory describes a particular type of learning method. Learning styles are the particular ways in which individuals prefer to learn. In the behaviorist point of view, learning is demonstrated following the presentation of a specific environmental stimulus and a proper response is obtained and the most crucial factor is the placement of the stimulus and response in the learning environment. For cognitivist, learning occurs through the acquisition of knowledge through internal mental structures. Learning is measured by how one thinks not how one behaves. Constructivists believe that the mind filters input from the world to produce its own reality. Learners create their own knowledge from their experiences. “Constructivists believe that it is impossible to isolate units of information or divide up knowledge domains”. The emphasis is on performance and instruction. The three levels of knowledge acquisition are introductory, advanced, and expert. Social learning theory stresses that learning occurs by observing the behaviors of others as well as by observing the outcomes of those behaviors. Learning can occur without a change in behavior and the consequences of behavior play a role in learning as does cognition. Connectivism on the other hand describes learning as Distributed within a social network. Technologically enhances learning which occurs through recognizing and interpreting patterns. However, technology does change how any learning theory is presented in an online environment. Adult learning theory is based on learning taking place through life experiences, working together in groups developing a particular method and talking about what is being learned. This incorporates many systems that continually adapt and merge. Motivation is essential in any learning theory, since without motivation to learn, there is no learning. Therefore, it is important for any instructional designer to keep their learners motivated. Motivation can come in different forms based on the individuals learning style, the learning theory, classroom instruction and online environments.
• How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?
This course will definitely help me as I further my career in instructional design. In fact, much of what I have learned, I am already putting into practice in my current position as a middle school teacher. I have a deeper understanding of the learning theories, which allows me to prescribe specific learning strategies for my students. As an instructional designer, it will allow me to design learning environments and courses that ensure that students learning styles are reflected and that specific learning strategies are used, creating a well-rounded course. In addition, I will be able to design an environment that motivates students to continue to learn. I have learned much about adult learning, the use of technology, and motivation, that I had not prior knowledge of. This course has given me a solid foundation and filled in the gaps I had in my learning. I am feeling more confident about designing instruction that is effective and engaging.