During last week’s class, we discussed the term knowledge and reviewed different theories in regards to learning. These theories are Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism. According to theorists, researchers and educational practitioners, successful learning takes place through the practice of experimentation as learning can take place in numerous ways. Although theorists may not always agree with one another’s epistemology of learning, they all understand that specific instruction needs to be designed and facilitated in order for learning to take place.
As I reviewed these theories, I found it interesting because I could relate my teaching practices to each theory. When I first began teaching in 2007, I am convinced that my teaching practices followed the Behaviorism model. I began teaching straight out of university and my methods for teaching were very structured. Each lesson of each day encompassed a very specific process which included instructional time, a designated activity and a comprehension check. Basically, my day to day teaching followed a very traditional practice. This practice did not prove to be effective for all of my students. However, as I grew as a professional I adopted new and interesting teaching styles which allowed me to see that my teaching had transitioned from Behaviorism to Cognitivism. I was beginning to understand the many ways my students were comprehending information as well as being aware of the environment in which learning was taking place. I would purposely design my lessons to suit each topic and began to offer my students a variety of learning opportunities, rather than just one. Currently, I am in my ninth year of teaching and I often have to wonder, where did the time go? What have I accomplished? I now realize that my current teaching style follows the Constructivist theory and I am proud of this. I understand that for learning to take place, I need to design my instruction around ways in which students can experience specific things within their environment rather than simply be “told” about them. Moreover, “both learner and environmental factors are critical to the constructivist, as it is the specific interaction between these two variables that creates knowledge” (p. 55). The Constructivist theory implies that for meaning to take place, one must first experience it. I believe this theory to be true and most accurate as I’ve witness throughout my years of teaching that not every child obtains information the same.
Within my professional practice, I am privileged to say that I have worked with many students who are all very unique. Many of our students come from different backgrounds and have wonderful experiences to share which we can all learn from. We must not limit our teaching abilities as we must first take the time to determine each students learning needs and structure our teaching around this. The same goes for teachers as teachers are learners too. Every teacher has a specific style of teaching which they will discover to be effective or not. Although I’ve previously stated the Constructivist theory suits my teaching ability, who’s to say that my belief is most accurate. When we think about learning, we must be open to the idea that one specific theory may not be the answer and perhaps theories may be combined in order to effectively meet the needs of our students.