Module Three: Behaviorist and Cognitive Perspectives of Learning

There are four different views of learning, and two common ones are Behavioral and Cognitive.  Behavioral learning is seen as more “teacher centered” learning, while Cognitive views learning as more “student centered” (Woolfolk 2014).  Other key differences include Behavioral learning being more study and memory based instead of application and experience based.  There are many criticisms of behavioral theory because it doesn’t always encourage students to be active learned in the classroom and puts too much attention on the instructor, however I think that these two theories can be combined in a way that helps the students even more.  Students need a balance between instruction (Behaviorist) and freedom (Cognitive) in order to perform tasks in the classroom. For example, a lesson at the beginning of a unit or chapter may be more teacher centered in order to the students to learn the concept foundations and vocabulary necessary to understand, and then later use that knowledge to apply it on their own in a more student centered lesson.  I think having a classroom that is entirely Behavioral based would bore the students and teach them that it’s okay to simply memorize the material in order to pass the test, whereas completely Cognitive based classrooms can give the students too much freedom and they can become confused, frustrated, and stray away from their assigned task.

Personally, I think I see myself fitting somewhere between the two theories, but closer towards Behavioral.  As a Social Studies teacher, it can be hard not to lecture on about History and encourage your students to memorize dates and important events and people, but I also think it’s important for students to understand why things happened they way that they did, which is where a Cognitive approach could come into play. As I mentioned earlier, the beginning of a new chapter might consist of me providing the basics- the people and the places and the dates, but then I could allow my students to engage in their own research or activity to learn more about the specifics they might be more interested in.

 

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Module Two: Knowledge & Development

How does one develop and construct knowledge? There are many theories about human development in the world of Psychology and Biology.  Some important ones include Erikson’s Stages of Psychological Development and Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. Both theories provide different ways in which people develop throughout their lives.  Erikson’s model is based off of eight events people experience during their lifetime called “crises”, and each crisis serves to shape that person’s personality and character in either a positive or negative way, depending on the resolution.  On the other hand, Piaget’s model focuses on four major cognitive developments experienced mostly by children as they age into adulthood.  These theories are important for teachers to know because it can help them to understand the way their students learn and behave, which in turn shapes the way they teach and interact with them.

Additionally, the student’s home and family life also impact their learning, and it’s important for teachers to be aware of the diverse students in their class and how their background can affect them.  Several things that can negatively impact their learning are divorce, abuse, and poverty. Even things like different parenting styles can determine the ways in which students behave at school and interact with their teachers and peers.

I come from a home with very permissive parents, meaning they controlled very little in my life.  Although this might sound great to a teenager who thinks they know everything, it was hard for me to get through school without anyone helping me with my homework or encouraging me to get good grades.  It took me until tenth grade to realize I needed to start trying harder to achieve in the same way my friends did.  As a result, I became very independent and hated working with others on projects or interacting a lot with my classmates at all.  Due to the way I got along at home, I mostly just wanted to do everything by myself, as that was familiar to me.

Another example of how parenting styles can affect a child’s learning is a child of very controlling parents might feel overwhelmed with the freedom school can offer, and act out as a result of it.  Children from neglectful parents might steel food from classmates, fall asleep in class, or be very withdrawn from peer groups.  If children don’t feel comfortable in their environment at home, they probably aren’t going to feel comfortable in their environment at school either, and it’s important for teachers to realize this and to accommodate and help those as much as possible.

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Module One: Homework debate

A word on education and research…

It’s important for educators to stay up to date on information regarding teaching styles, how students respond to those styles, and current events and how they may affect your students.  Teachers do not necessarily need to perform this research, but it can always be beneficial to read up on different types of research in order to stay informed and live an academically enriched lifestyle.  As for myself, I’ll be able to teach Psychology and Sociology, which are two subjects that involve a lot of different kids of research studies.  Teaching my own students how to read and write academic articles are important for critical thinking skills which does more for them than simply teaching facts and numbers.

As far as homework goes, I really believe homework should be used as a way to encourage parent involvement with their child’s schooling. Obviously, younger grades should have more hands on guided learning with their parents, while the older students learn to be more independent with their work, especially those in AP classes.  Of course, this only works if the parents want to be involved.  Recent research shows that students native to the U.S. have much more parents involvement that immigrant children, or even children of immigrants. (Suarez 2016).

Additionally, homework meas different things among different cultures, and it’s important for teachers to be aware of the differences among his or her students and how it may affect their performance. Hong and Milgram (2000) found that students belonging to different cultures around the world (U.S., China, Korea, Greece, and Brazil) complete homework in a way that reflects their societal standards.  For example, children in China and Korea usually do homework sitting in a desk and chair in a quiet room whereas children from the U.S. might do  their homework at a kitchen table with the T.V. or radio on in the background.  Because of these differences, it’s important for teachers to make it clear to their students and families just how involved they wish the parents to be, and why they think it’s a good thing for their students, while still remaining culturally sensitive to diverse students.  Without understanding teachers to do so, homework becomes a stressful chore for students to complete in competition with other students who might do it differently, and therefore benefit more or less from it.

Now, if all goes smoothly and teachers become aware of how different cultures respond to homework, I do believe it can benefit students in the long run. I’m not talking about hours of homework each night, but I like the idea of students only having to complete what they don’t finish in class.  Like I said earlier, students in AP or accelerated classes might get a little more as they are choosing to take harder courses, but even so I think the amount of homework should be debated. Parent involvement with their child’s homework from an early age can encourage high reading achievements and more autonomy expressed by their children.  (Doctoroff & Arnold 2017).  Of course, this would mean students need more time during the school day for independent work if they want to get their work done, and not all high schools allow their students to take a study hall every semester- something else we should think about discussing.

When I was in high school, I would have loved to argue against homework, but I also got way too much of it and was a tad bit lazy. If administrators lessen the burden on teachers to assign homework, and lessen the burden on students to complete it, then teachers could simply assign less homework (or at least allow their students time to work on it in class) and maybe students wouldn’t hate it so much.

References

Doctoroff, G. L., & Arnold, D. H. (2017). Doing homework together: The relation between parenting strategies, child engagement, and achievement. Applied Developmental Psychology. 48. 103-113.  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0193397317300011

Hong, E., & Milgram, R. M. (2000). Homework: motivation and learning preference. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Suárez, N., Regueiro, B., Epstein, J. L., Piñeiro, I., Díaz, S. M., & Valle, A. (2016). Homework Involvement and Academic Achievement of Native and Immigrant Students. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01517

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Introductory Blog Post

I’ve loved school since a very young age, but it was never clear to me what I wanted to do when I grew up.  My passion for history also stems from very early memories spent with my dad reading about World Wars I and II- the kind of planes they flew and weapons and strategies used. To this day I believe that my dad has been the biggest influence on my decision to major in History Education.  My decision to minor in both Psychology and Sociology was more of an in-the-moment kind of decision: two subjects I’m interested in that I could teach alongside History. Since then, my History teachers have always been some of my favorite teachers for several reasons.

There are three History teachers I had in middle and high school that come to mind, and they each have a few things in common with each other that made them stand out to me.  First, they were all so passionate about the subject they taught- whether is was U.S. History or World History- they seemed to be full of endless amounts of information and passion for it which drove their students to success.

Not only were they knowledgeable in their subject, but they also understood how to communicate it to others, a topic we’re discussing my Intro to Education and Teaching class.  Each teacher incorporated a variety of lessons and activities to engage their students.  One class in particular stands out to me as being more fun than anything else.  It makes me wonder if students learn best when they don’t even realize they’re learning?

I imagine different scenarios in my head about what I’ll be like when I’m a teacher: shorter than all my students and pushover, probably- but I also imagine myself as a happy and energetic teacher who’s excited about being at school and learning about her students while she teaches them at the same time. Ideally, I can take each aspect from some of my favorite teachers- passionate, understanding, empathetic, kind, and a little quirky, and kind of morph them into one person that I can only try to imitate.

I know not all my students will love me, and I know I won’t always be the best teacher, but I really believe in education being a key factor in success in so many ways, and I can only hope to inspire at least some of my students in the same way some of my teachers have inspired me.

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