Constructs of Learning

There are many theories that surround the field of psychology that help us better understand the world around us.  Biomedical therapy, bias’s, bystander effect…the list goes on.  However, there are many “beliefs” that surround the idea of behaviorism as well as cognitive learning styles.  For some reason, everybody thinks that it HAS to be one or the other, just like the concept of “nature vs nurture”.  Personally, I believe that it shouldn’t have to be one or the other, rather that they work together to build our knowledge and understanding of what’s going on around us.


When it comes to understanding learning from a behavioral standpoint, it isn’t as complex as it sounds.  Behavioral learning can be broken down into a few sub-categories, in which I will breakdown the following:  Contiguity, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and positive and negative reinforcement.  The first term I will elaborate on is the idea of contiguity.  In essence, it is the idea of association.  “Whenever two or more sensations occur together often enough, they will become associated” (Woolfolk, 2013).  As far as classical conditioning goes, this is defined as “learning of involuntary emotional or physiological responses such as fear, increased muscle tension, salivation, or sweating” (Woolfolk, 2013).  Coined by famous psychologist Pavlov, he conducted this famous experiment using his dog, food, and a tuning fork.  To put it into simple terms, his dog would begin salivating whenever they saw the food.  What he ended up doing was using the concept of contiguity.  Pavlov would ring the tuning fork everyday before feeding his dog, and when the dog saw the food, it would salivate.  However, over time, all Pavlov needed to do was ring the bell in order to have the dog salivate, even without providing the food.  This is how classical conditioning works.  The process of turning a neutral stimulus (the tuning fork) into a conditioned stimulus to produce a conditioned response.  The ideas of positive and negative reinforcement are sub categories of operant conditioning.  In my own terms, reinforcement is something that will increase the likelihood of a behavior to happen, where as punishment is gong to decrease the likelihood of something happening.  Positive means to add something or to give, and negative is to take away.  If you take these simple ideas and put them together, you will understand the differences between the four.



Social cognitive theory is defined as “[our] beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations to social learning” (Woolfolk, 2013).  Social learning can be defined as learning through observation.  Albert Bandura, famous for the “Bobo Doll” experiment, concluded that children would behave violently if they had observed an adult model behave violently.  Basically, this theory is the whole “monkey see, monkey do” sort of thing.



As far as limitations go, I would like to talk about the downsides of behavioral learning.  For classical conditioning, most of the learning that takes place isn’t going to be long term.  Also, the things you will learn aren’t exactly useful (in my opinion) in an educational setting.  I do, however, believe in the ideas of positive and negative reinforcement/punishment.  In my O+P class, I have seen a pretty amazing example of this.  Although I’m not sure how she did it, she has conditioned her class (after lunch and walking back to class) to stop at certain points along the way to wait for her to catch up.  The students do this every day, and do not deviate from this.  The students must have been conditioned in some way, most likely through negative punishment, or positive punishment.  If I had to guess, she most likely took away one of their “good behavior card colors” if they had walked too far before she allowed them to go.  That or she would reward them when they stayed, by giving them candy or something.  If that were the case, it would be positive reinforcement.


Whether or not I believe in one more than the other isn’t really the point of this reflection, in my personal opinion.  However, as far as my future career is concerned, I would have to say the most reliable theory for me would be the social cognitive theory of role modeling.  Since I will be a physical education teacher, I will be doing a lot of demonstrations in hopes that I can help the kids who don’t fully understand how to do things like a correct serve in table tennis, or throwing a frisbee, things in that nature.  Tying in with that, I think applied behavioral analysis (B.F. Skinner, conditioning theories, etc) goes hand in hand with that of being a physical educator.  Discipline is a REQUIREMENT in a phy ed class.  That is where students blow off steam, let out their energy, and do not wish to be controlled.  I want my students to have that sort of release during the day, but they need to also respect my authority as well, and do as I say.  I will reward good behavior, as well as discipline bad behavior, which is basically what operant conditioning is.


As I go back to my earlier statement, it is not about one or the other…it’s about using them both together, and deciding when it is right to apply each method (procedural knowledge….hmm?? Psych has a funny way of connecting with other ideas).



“Bandura And Social Learning Theory”. YouTube. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

I selected this video because I believe it does an outstanding job of outlining what I am referring to within my blog post.

“Operant Conditioning – Negative Reinforcement Vs Positive Punishment”. YouTube. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

I decided to use another “Big Bang Theory” video, not only because it is                   hilarious, but also in that it proves to be quite helpful in explaining                           concepts, thank’s to Sheldon.  Within this video, they do an excellent job of             not only demonstrating operant conditioning, but they also help clarify the             difference between positive punishment, and negative reinforcement.                     These two, as stated in the video, are often mixed up when explaining                     them, as well as labeling them to certain situations.  I found that this                         clarification in the video was useful.

Woolfolk, A., & Hoy, A. W. (2013). Educational psychology: Active learning edition (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

The textbook does a great job of outlining certain ideas and examples that               without it would have mad this blog a lot more challenging.  That along                   with my AP psych notebook, I was able to have a deeper understanding of               some of these terms, which helps when it comes to explaining it to other                 people.  Things like explaining operant and classical conditioning, social                 cognitive theory definition, popular household psychologist names, etc.





Developmental Psychology

When it comes to the stages of development throughout life, there are many sub-categories that branch off of them.  Social development, cognitive development, physical, the list goes on and on.  Throughout this unit/module, we looked at many developmental psychologists including Piaget, Erickson, Bronfenbrenner, and Vygotsky.  Each one of them have constructed their own theories surrounding the developmental process we all go through in life, each of which can be applicable to education.

What I would like to discuss first, is Piaget’s theory involving the 4 stages of Cognitive development.  These four stages include sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operations.  Each one of these stages come with ways of assessment, to determine where a child is at in the development process.  Throughout the stage of sensorimotor (birth – 2 years old), they develop what is known as “object permanence”.  This is why children love the game “peek-a-boo”.  The concept involves the idea that “if I can’t see you, you must not be there”.  Children in this stage fail to understand that even though an object isn’t in sight, doesn’t mean it disappears.  “The oder infant who searches fo the ball that has rolled out of sight is indicating an understanding that objects still exist even when they are not in view (Moore & Meltzoff, 2004)” (Woolfolk, 2013).  We mainly talked about the idea of “conservation” in class, which is developed in the pre-operational stage.  The concept behind this is that if given an equal amount of something, when rearranged a certain way, the amount is still equivalent to its counterpart.

The concept of conservation can really be applicable in education in the sense of a math class.  I mentioned this in class, but when it comes to equivalents, fractions, etc, this is perfect to help move someone past the stage of pre-operational.  If you think about it, most of the “tests” you can perform on child to see their development, are basically math problems.  As an example, when my educational psych professor showed us the video of her child successfully passing the “water displacement” test of conservation, but failed the coin one, a math instructor could work with that type of information to help her move forward.

Many psychologists support Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, however, there are also critiques.  One limitation to Piaget’s theory is that it fails to reach to the developmental process of most adults.  This theory is strictly based on the development of children until the ages of 12-14.  After that age, none of the assessments can be used, and there aren’t any more stages after the fact. This is one popular critique when it comes to his theory.


As for Vygotsky, his ideas surrounding the “Zone of Proximal Development” relate directly to education.  It is a pretty basic concept in which you use the “scaffolding” method.  You teach/aid students things that are slightly out of their understanding at first, to eventually set them off on their own to try it by themselves.  The problem is that every student is different, so this would be a very individualized process.  You can’t teach something that is too basic otherwise learning won’t take place.  On the other hand, if you teach something too challenging, they will get frustrated and give up.


Within this unit, we learned about the 4 types of parenting styles, and with them their level of warmth and control.  The 4 include authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful.  Out of all of these four, I would say my family raised me with an authoritative attitude. “Authoritative parents also have rules that children are expected to follow, however, they allow some exceptions to the rule. They often tell children the reasons for the rules and they are more willing to consider a child’s feelings when setting limits” (Morin, 2016).  I personally believe that being raised in that style helped shape me into who I am today, to an extent at least.  I make good decisions, I stay away from trouble, and I learned from my mistakes growing up.  Alternatively, there are a lot of outside factors that ALSO helped shape me to who I am today, but that’s for another blog post I’m sure.  “Children raised with authoritative discipline tend to be happy and successful. They are often good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own” (Morin, 2016).




Woolfolk, A., & Hoy, A. W. (2013). Educational psychology: Active learning edition (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

I used our classroom textbook as a resource involving some of the major                 topics I had covered.  I used the book for concepts surrounding Piaget’s                   theory of the 4 stages of cognitive development as well as touched upon                   Vygotsky’s work.  I also briefly went over the parenting styles which I                       learned from the textbook and in class.

Morin, A., & LCSW. (2016, June 21). 4 parenting styles and their effects on children. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Verywell,

This article was very helpful in defining the parenting styles and how goes             a little more in depth on how it (on average) effects a child’s development.             Also, it helped guide my thinking process on how to describe my home life             as well as how I developed into the person I am today.


Research and Teaching

When we were in our small groups, I was talking/discussing with partner the topic of, “Can teachers be researches, and can researchers be teachers?”  Interestingly enough, we both came up with different answers.  I said that educators can very well be researchers, and I was going to raise my hand in class and say “I disagree” when my professor was talking about how teachers may not be as methodical as researchers or go as in depth etc etc, but then she changed her words and said that teachers COULD in fact be researches to some extent.  I probably should’ve wrote notes down because I would’ve remembered a lot more.

I think educators almost have to be researchers in some fields.  There is new and upcoming information all the time, and some of that has to be effective in their field, right?  If we take that out of consideration, there are still practical things that could be researched.  For example, how to be more efficient in the classroom, how to boost effort in the classroom from students, things in that nature could be useful for educators.


Now when it came to the concept of researchers being teachers, I wasn’t sure I agreed with my partner.  She said she believed they are, whereas I said,  “it’s a possibility”.  Personally, when I think of researchers, I think of people who are devoted to one subject area that are highly intelligent and spend most of there life educating themselves and conducting their own experiments etc etc.  These are the type of people I could see sitting in a Math class instructing 5th graders on how to do long division.  To me, being an educator requires a different type of skill, one of which I personally don’t believe a researcher would most likely have.


When it comes to impacting my personal career in teaching physical education, besides having my lesson plans filled out, I pretty much have my entire life set up in my head.  Unless a new sport comes up, there really isn’t much research I have to do on my own.  Sure there are things I had mentioned before like “Improvements to the classroom” and stuff like that, but I honestly don’t foresee things going awry in my class.  Of course, there is always an option for me to research things I have questions about or have to find solutions to involving my class.

Part 2:

“Students have a lot of time at home and they should do something” (Hinchey, 1996).

To the following statement, I have to say that I agree, they should do something.  However, I will be the first to say that I think they should be spending their free time as far away from homework as possible.  Students have lives outside of this teacher’s classroom, and to think that they have enough time for your homework alone is just selfish.  Personally, when I was in high school, I did cross country and track, and training during these seasons prevented me from getting home until around 5:30 or 6pm.  That gives me roughly 4 hours to myself after having a long day at school (which I can still clearly remember).  Taking into account I need to shower and eat, that alone right there is easily 30 minutes.  That leaves me 3 hours and 30 minutes left in my day.  I want to spend every minute of that relaxing before I go back to school and repeat. I feel for kids when they say they simply don’t have as much time as teachers think they do, or when they say, “I have other things to do” (Hinchey, 1996).

“Students report that their interactions with their parents around homework often involve conflicts and punishment, and that these interactions color their overall relationships with their parents” (Katz, 2012).  After doing this research, I have come to the conclusion that I agree with the teacher who wrote “students should not be given homework”.  The last thing us educators want is problems at home.  This only creates more stress on a student which creates anxiety which leads to future problems.

“Research suggests that students often fail to complete homework due to lack of motivation, partly due to the absence of student choice and a mismatch in assignment difficulty and student’s ability level” (Setz and Shroeder, 2016).  This shows that a large amount of students are given homework that is too difficult/time consuming for where they are in the course.  Although I never personally experienced this, it is a very logical statement.  If I was given an assignment that took me nearly an hour to complete, I wouldn’t want to do homework either.

“Students often complain about the amount of time they spend completing HW instead of engaging in leisure activities” (Núñez, J. C., Suárez, N., Rosário, P., Vallejo, G., Cerezo, R., & Valle, A. (2015).  This statement here really does resonate with me personally, because honestly, I never felt like I had time to  myself in high school.  All of my free time was spent working out for Cross Country, which is ABSOLUTELY NOT leisure, let me tell you that much.  I was pretty much assigned work every single night outside of school projects and stuff, and while having a job during school, this made for a very tight schedule.Adam and I, northstar classic IMG_0076 IMG_0052


Defining good teachers

My name is Matt Lander and I am a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  I grew up in Waukesha Wisconsin for the majority of my life and graduated high school in 2015 at Waukesha North High School.  I’m an athlete as well as a self taught musician and hope to carry those passions on in life as well as form a career.

I’ve had the same plan since I was in middle school when it came to deciding what my future job would be.  I’ve always enjoyed my time in phy ed class, as well as helping others in class if they weren’t as good at something.  My plan after college is to apply to the high school I graduated from to teach physical education (and possibly health), assistant coach the Men’s cross country team, as well as potentially start ultimate frisbee as a recognized sport at the school in the spring to coach that as well.  I’d also like to form a table tennis team during the winter and coach that because these are all passions of mine that I was never able to pursue in high school.

There isn’t a single phy ed teacher I’ve ever had a problem with while growing up as a kid, all the way to the end of my high school career.  Some of my most influential gym teachers were Mr. Schlei (8th grade teacher but taught gym at the high school the next year), Mr. W (everyone called him Dubbs because his last name was too hard to pronounce), and Mr. Schaefer.  They were all amazing mentors growing up because they went above and beyond their job description and taught me a lot, which made me into the person I am today.

When it comes to being a “good teacher” (speaking about gym teachers specifically), I think there are a lot of factors.  You need to be easy going because it is after all gym class, a time for students to get a break within the day, but you also need to be firm and let your students know who is in charge.  You are their teacher, not their friend, which leads me into the next point.  You need to be open as a teacher.  My gym teachers always had their office doors open for anybody to come in and talk about whatever was on their mind, because they truly do care about your well being.  I also think a good teacher should help those in the class who struggle the most with learning the lessons being taught.  The people that need the most attention are the ones who don’t give all their effort (which could be from an abundance of outside factors) or don’t dress for class, etc etc.

I hope to look back on this one day once I’m in my profession to see if I did things/are doing things right.