Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism & Learning and Instructional Theory

LearningDctr (2010) Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism & Learning and Instructional Theory

I like the logical structure and information in this video, although it is limited in scope and doesn’t address its own limitations. For example only three type of learning theories are mentioned, and the video seems to imply that these are the only learning theories that exist.

The information presented is summarized below:

  1. Learning Theories (descriptive– What is learning?)
    • Behaviourism: The mind is viewed as a “black box” and “we know learning has occurred when we receive regular, expected responses”
    • Cognitivism: Mind as a computer. Learning has occurred when information can be recalled
    • Constructivism: Mind as a rhizome, an interconnected network of nodules that can be draw off of when processing information. Learning occurs by doing things.
  2. Instructional Theories (prescriptive– How do we help people learn?)
    • Behaviourism: Instruction is repetition and reinforcement
    • Cognitivism: Instruction is grabbing the student’s attention and helping them store information for later recall
    • Constructivism: “Instruction is guiding problem solving”

My main criticism of this video is that I found it hard to absorb the information because of the way it was presented with moving text fading into and out of view. I think the motion/effects were distracting me from learning the content, which is very good. I had to watch in numerous times and take notes to absorb the information. I see in the video responses on YouTube that the tool Animoto was used to create the video with an effect/format called “Fire”.

I also question the validity of some of the information and see disagreements in the YouTube responses such as:

According to behaviorism, or at least according to Skinner’s approach, the mind isn’t a black box. That’s just the view of those who want to discredit behaviorism. Behaviorists argue that “The Mind” isn’t a useful concept.

Ariel Raphaeli

Scientific theories do not seek to give perspective, theories are explanations that have supporting evidence or do not. Science seeks only one theory as multiple theories explaining things differently cannot all be correct. Multiple theories of gravity are not a good thing from a scientific perspective, and maintaining multiple perspectives in not a scientific goal. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are not theories but rather ways of collecting evidence (i.e., a basis for research methods). Behaviorists insist on sticking with behavior that can be observed and play down explanations that involve mental constructs that cannot be directly observed. Cognitivists, at least the scientific ones, try to infer mental “structures” indirectly by observing behaviors. Constructivism isn’t a research methodology but rather an ideology that favors some instructional practices.


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