Theories of knowledge…Which one is best for learning?

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.

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6 thoughts on “Theories of knowledge…Which one is best for learning?

  1. Great post Roxanne! I too agree with you that everything should differ according to the students you are teaching. Every child, like you said, obtains information differently and that should not only be acknowledged in the classroom, but embraced and used throughout lesson planning. You have had quite the evolution of teaching within your first 9 years; thanks for sharing your story!

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  2. Isn’t it crazy how things change so much even over 9 short years? I’ve been teaching since 2010 full time and I know that my teaching style has changed as well. I think it changed most when I started taking my graduate courses. It’s great that we are able to take course to challenge our views and encourage us to be better. I like that we are encouraged to try new things and if it doesn’t work, it’s no big deal…we can try again. Students need teachers like you who are willing to adapt to meet their needs. Sounds like your doing a great job Roxanne.

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  3. Pingback: I think, therefore I am… Or, maybe not. | E. Therrien

  4. Awesome post Roxanne. I think you made a very valid point in that each person has their own teaching style and that we need to be open to the idea that one specific idea or theory doesn’t always work for ALL.
    Does anyone else feel like this is an area that school divisions/ administrative practices may not always consider?

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  6. Loved the post Roxanne! Your first graphic rings so true and comes from a story I have in my Library that I refer to often, because I too believe we shouldn’t have a one size fits all mentality.

    In addition to that – I really enjoy the progression you have noted throughout your career as you gained experience, there is absolutely value added in our professional judgement every year that we continue to work with students.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts this week!

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