Behaviorist and Cognitive Learning Perspectives

When it comes to education and learning, there are many different fields and approaches to help explain and improve how students learn such as behavioral, cognitive, constructivist, and social cognitive. Some theories coming from different approaches tend to conflict with each other, but there are also ones that work together, for example: the nature vs. nurture debate. The main difference between behaviorist and cognitive learning perspectives is behaviorism focuses more on explaining things through one’s outward behavior or things that can be observed, while cognitivism revolves around cognitive processes such as decision making and memory. These psychological perspectives come into play a lot when considering what teaching styles do and don’t work and for what reasons. We can and should consider both theories when aspiring to perfect our teaching methods because there are students with many different backgrounds and learning styles, so it is important to find ways to reach each and every one of them.

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So what does this mean specifically for applying these theories to the classroom setting? When considering Albert Bandura’s theory that environmental factors, personal factors, and behavior all flow together from one to the other and vice versa, it can explain almost all types of behavior in the classroom. For example: one of your students acts out constantly, talks out of turn, and seems to always need the attention of the class and the teacher on them…one possible factor that is causing the expression of this particular behavior with this child is that maybe they have neglectful parents at home who don’t take care of the child’s physical and emotional needs. There are endless other examples, but overall this theory says that any factor whether it be environmental or cognitive can create a domino effect of behaviors. Before jumping to conclusions about your students’ behavior, it is very important to consider the “why” and not the “what”.

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Some concrete applications of cognitive theory in the classroom include: being a good role model to your students. Be someone that they can look up to and model after. Encourage your students. If they have low self confidence they might need someone else to tell them that they can do it until they believe it themselves and live up to their full potential. An example for older students, possibly juniors or seniors in high school is to teach them about shallow and deep processing and different study techniques to help retain information that will come in handy when pursuing a higher education like what Stephen Chew discussed in his videos. Although extremely beneficial, there are some limitations to these theories. Unfortunately, like most things in life, problems and situations in the classroom are not always black and white and therefore require something more than a black and white solution. What I mean by this is that there are a lot gray areas when it comes to your students’ lives and learning experiences, and it may take some trial and error to figure out what specifically the problem is and what does and doesn’t work for them.

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When it comes to my own beliefs in regards to the role of teachers, peers, and students, I’d have to say I fit somewhere in with the constructivist theory, more specifically individual. As I said before though, I think a teacher is putting all of their students at a disadvantage if they only choose to study the theory that resides with them. Although I am more of an individualistic learner and like to build onto things I already know, that doesn’t mean that will work for all of my future students too. Some kids really rely on their peers to help them learn, some like to learn alone. Some kids only need their teacher to guide them in the right direction, others need their teacher to manage and supervise everything they do. Every child is different and in my future teaching career I hope to get to know all of my students well enough to figure out their own individual needs and do my best to satisfy them.

 

Works Cited:

Barth, D. Caine, G. Caine, R. Sullo, B. (2017, January 5). Jean Piaget: Cognitive Development in the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.funderstanding.com/educators/jean-piaget-cognitive-development-in-the-classroom/

Chew, S. (2011, August 16). How to Get the Most Out of Studying: Part 2 of 5, “What Students Should Know About How People Learn”. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O7y7XEC66M&feature=youtu.be

Chew, S. (2011, August 16). How to Get the Most Out of Studying: Part 3 of 5, “Cognitive Principles for Optimizing Learning”. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xeHh5DnCIw&feature=youtu.be

Hurst, M. (2015, June 4). Using Cognitive Development Psychology in the Classroom – Video & Lesson Transcript. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/using-cognitive-development-psychology-in-the-classroom.html

McGuire, S. (2013, March 26). Study Smarter | Dr. Saundra McGuire on The Study Cycle. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlZMBsMZnoI

Woolfolk, A. E. (2008). Educational psychology: active learning edition.Retrieved March 14, 2017, Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

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Psychological and Social Factors of Learning

The way that we as humans develop and construct knowledge is very complex, but luckily some very smart psychologists have configured different theories to help explain it. Some of these psychologists include: Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Lev Vygotsky, and many more. Their theories of brain development and learning are the basis of a lot of teaching practices used in and outside the classroom. The developmental theories that we discussed during Module 2 directly apply to teaching because in order to effectively teach a student, there are some things you must know about them prior to the learning taking place. The main factor of how learning differs from person to person is their age. One child who just started 1st grade is going to learn a whole lot differently than a child who is going into 6th grade. The reason for this is the different stages of Psychological development.

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There are several different theories on what the stages of psychological development are. There’s Erikson’s stages of Psychosocial Development, Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, and many others. One problem with these theories is that they are general and don’t necessarily apply to everyone. Someone might be a young adult age, but are still stuck in the Identity vs. Role confusion stage, or there could be an 8 year old who hasn’t yet completed the pre-operational stage. These types of things should be kept in mind when applying these theories to your classroom teaching, not all students are at the same level.

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Aside from the psychological factors of learning in a classroom, social factors also play a huge role in learning. Parents, friends, classmates, media, family, financial situation, class, race, all have an impact on a student’s ability to learn. According to another psychologist, Abraham Maslow, every human has a hierarchy of needs. This is shown in the figure below where you start at the bottom and you cannot move up until the needs below have been met. So how this applies to teaching is that, how can we expect a student to come to class ready to learn and do school work if they haven’t even met their three basic needs? For example, a student who comes from a poor family who can’t always afford to put food on the table goes to school hungry, their basic physiological need to eat has not been met, therefore they are unable to move up the ladder. Or say, a student who gets bullied at school and is constantly on edge does not have their need for safety met, therefore no quality learning can take place. These social factors should be taken into consideration just as much as the psychological ones when getting to know your students.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgIn my own teaching career, I definitely plan to take these theories into consideration. Depending on the grade level I end up teaching I will consider my students’ cognitive development level along with their lives outside of school. If a student of mine is struggling or seems to be disconnected I will try to find out why before jumping to conclusions that they are unintelligent or lazy, because there is probably something else going on in their life or possibly some of their needs are not being met. Overall, many aspects go into giving and receiving a quality education and all should be carefully considered by the teacher in order to maximize the students’ learning.

Sources Cited:

6. (2014, October 08). Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Im_GrCgrVA

Erikson’s Theory and Career Development – IResearchNet. (2016, November 26). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://career.iresearchnet.com/career-development/eriksons-theory-of-development/

J. (2007, February 10). Conservation task. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtLEWVu815o&feature=youtu.be

K. (2013, December 20). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt3-PIC2nCs

M. (2011, March 25). A typical child on Piaget’s conservation tasks. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnArvcWaH6I

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (2017, February 18). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

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Teachers’ Role as Researchers

The relationship between teachers and researchers is very important in the field of education. It allows for new ideas to be experimentally designed and tested in order to determine what practices do and don’t work in a classroom setting. Although the job titles and training may be different for both researchers and teachers, I believe they can also be used interchangeably. In order for a teacher to be successful, they must be constantly thinking ahead and adapting their teaching practices along with the changing world. This means that teaching practices used even 5 years ago, may no longer be relevant to today’s society. For this reason, it is necessary for teachers to also be researchers.

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There is so much easily accessible information out there, because of the technology we have, which can be both a good and a bad thing. It is good because we have all the information we could ever need right at our finger tips, but it can also be bad because it can be overwhelming to sort through and decide which sources are useful and relevant and which ones are not. Using information literacy to evaluate and select which research to use can help simplify the research process. What this means for my future career is that my education does not end once I graduate college, I must be constantly learning and researching throughout my entire teaching career to ensure I am using the most effective, up to date teaching practices.the-great-homework-debate1

Whether or not teachers should be assigning homework to their students is a controversial debate in the educational world. A lot of research has been conducted to determine the affectivity of homework and its correlation with academic achievement. In my opinion, the amount of homework that should be given and for which subjects varies from different grade levels, but for right now I am going to focus on my own topic and level on students that I intend to teach. So, do I believe that students of the middle and high school levels should be given math homework?, the short answer is yes. I do though, have a strong opinion on how homework should be assigned. From my own personal experience in school being the student that gave the smallest possible effort in order to just get by, I remember which homework I fully completed on time, which homework helped me review what I had learned in class, and which homework I believe increased my academic achievement. On the contrary, I also remember which homework felt like busy work, a waste of my time, and something that would not actually help me learn or retain information in the long run. This homework usually got tossed in the trash as soon as I got home, and if a student like me did that, I don’t doubt there are many other students who do the same. Due to this experience, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what constitutes effective homework.

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Through some of the research I did, I found other articles supporting my thoery with scientific evidence backing them up. One article in particular titled: “Teachers’ Feedback on Homework, Homework-Related Behaviors, and Academic Achievement” discussed the importance of teachers giving feedback on homework in order to create effectiveness. I completely agree with this theory because without giving feedback 1.) the students have no incentive to even complete the homework, and 2.) the students won’t know which ones they did correctly/incorrectly therefore no learning or improvement can take place. Another article I read called “Homework Hysteria” collected research on how too much homework is not effective and can create stress in the household. For example, if a student has 5 classes and each teacher assigns about an hour of homework, that equals 5 hours of homework in just one night for that student! Along with extracurricular activities, this leaves little to no time for family, friends, and a good night sleep. Therefore, the homework that is assigned should be concise and not excessive.

Overall, research is a very important component in good teaching and should be used throughout one’s teaching career in order to continuously expand ideas and practices in the classroom. Purposeful research should be done through using information literacy in order to sort through and find the sources one actually needs and ensure they are accurate, scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. The research surrounding homework is important to consider when attempting to maximize academic achievement while still taking into consideration the students’ overall workload. All of the ideas I have discussed I plan to consider when beginning and throughout my whole teaching career.

 

Sources Cited:

(2007, December 10). Homework hysteria. Maclean’s. p. 2.

Culyer, R. O. (1996). Making homework work. Education Digest, 61(9), 52.

Goss, J. (2012, November 02). This is how I feel as I’m doing my research statistics homework tonite….Ahhhh is it August yet?! Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/123637952241560925/

Locke, J. Y., Kavanagh, D. J., & Campbell, M. A. (2016). Overparenting and homework: the student’s task, but everyone’s responsibility. Journal Of Psychologists & Counsellors In Schools, 26(1), 1-15. doi:10.1017/jgc.2015.29

Nunez, J.C., Suarez, N., Rosario, P., Vallejo, G., Cerezo, R., & Valle, A. (2015). Teachers’ feedback on homework, homework-related behaviors, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 108(3), 204-216. doi:10.1080/00220671.2013.878298

The great homework debate. (2015, March 17). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from http://www.classic-play.com/the-great-homework-debate/

Turk Hij Den Biyol Derg. (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2017, from http://www.turkhijyen.org/eng/jvi.aspx

 

 

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Introductory Blog Post

Hello blog audience, my name is Liesl Ziegeweid and I am a Secondary Math Education major at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I’m hoping to become a math teacher preferably at a middle school, but other than that I have no opinion on age group or location. I’ve been thinking about what I want to minor in and one possibility is German, so I could potentially also teach a German class. What I hope to achieve in my teaching career goes farther than just teaching kids math. I hope I can help my students gain confidence in their abilities, look forward to coming to school and learning, and hopefully change some lives.

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The most influential teachers that I can remember growing up were the ones that I felt made the class something extra, and didn’t just stand in front of the class writing on the board and lecturing as I struggled to pay attention. I appreciated the ones who put in the effort to make class fun, exciting, and more engaging. I think my bad teachers actually inspired me most of all because I don’t think any student should have to feel like their teacher wants them to fail and that success is simply unobtainable in their class. I will definitely take my experiences from when I was in school and use them to my advantage to better educate my future students and be more empathetic towards them.

What makes a “good” teacher I believe can be answered slightly differently for everyone, as I discovered after our discussion in class about the topic, but most good teachers definitely share some certain characteristics. In my opinion, the qualities that make a good teacher include patience for their students, passion for the subject they’re teaching and their career, and the ability to engage students in the learning and keep them interested and focused. When I think back to my past teachers, the ones I learned the most from and enjoyed the most were the ones who were alive and passionate and made me feel like the subject matter we were learning was important and interesting.

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When comparing the effectivity of different styles of teaching, some are definitely more so than others. For example the teacher from the video clip from the Dead Poet’s Society was high energy, engaging, related the topic to the class, got everyone out of their seats, and overall had the students hanging on his every word. This style of teaching is definitely going to be more effective than the style from the second video clip where the teacher stands in front of the board and speaks in the most monotone voice and makes no effort to make the content more interesting whatsoever. It’s clear by the expression on all the students’ faces that they are hating the class, bored out of their minds, and are not going to retain any of the content they are hearing. I can relate to both these teaching styles as I have had teachers similar to both, and I have experienced first-hand the difference that teaching style can make on learning.

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In the article titled “What Makes a Good Teacher?” from the New York Times, the author discusses the news that New York might tie teacher evaluations with students’ test scores. He questions whether test score should be the basis of deciding which teachers are “good” and which are “bad”. I completely agree that test scores do not necessarily determine the quality of a teacher.  Good teaching is far more complex than making sure students cram information into their heads, regurgitate it onto a test, and then forget it all shortly after. Good teaching ensures learning, growing, expressing creativity, and so much more.

 

Sources Cited:

Gonchar, M. (2015, March 24). What makes a good teacher? The Learning Network. Retrieved from https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/what-makes-a-good-teacher/?_r=0

Regents, U. B. of. (2017). University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from http://www.uww.edu/mmr/identity-standards/college-descriptors

Weir, P. (Director). (1989). Dead poets society [Film]. USA.

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