How can effective learning be achieved? To answer this question, many learning theories have been put forward over the centuries. Some of the theories have been widely adopted by teachers. For example; behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism are the most known and accepted learning theories. However, these theories are open to discussion in terms of their effectiveness. In this essay, I am going to explain these theories and discuss how effective they are.
“Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning.”
This theory states that students can learn effectively with conditioning. Behaviorists define learning as a response to stimulus. They do not take students’ cognitive and affective condition into consideration. In my opinion, this is a drawback because learning is not just a simple process and can not be explained as a change in human behaviors. Another point I disagree with this theory is that behaviorists say a human being’s learning is similar to an animal’s learning. They put humans’ way of learning and animals’ way of learning into the same category. If I were a teacher, I would not use this theory in my class. I would be aware that every student is different from each other in terms of learning
Second theory, cognitivism, is “the psychology of learning which emphasizes human cognition or intelligence as a special endowment enabling man to form hypotheses and develop intellectually.” This theory can be considered as a challenge and opposition against behaviorists. Cognitivists advocate that learning is “a complex process which has an effect on the mind.” The most famous cognitivist, Piaget, has a theory on cognitivism. He came up with some ideas which helps effective learning in his theory of cognitive development. He says every student has a different cognitive structure. On the whole, I agree with cognitivists’ opinions. In my opinion, teachers should often use this theory in their lessons.
Last but not least theory is constructivism. Constructivism is defined as a learning theory which “views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge or experience.” Over the last years, teachers in Turkey have started to use this theory in their classes. Instead of memorizing knowledge, students are urged to reconstruct knowledge on their mind. I think this is an effective way of learning and knowledge makes more sense on our mind if we reconstruct knowledge ourselves.
In conclusion, there are many theories related to effective learning. Behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism are the leading ones. We see that these theories have pros and cons. If someone wants to be competent teacher, he or she should know these theories very well and use them at the proper time.