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Behaviorism - Essay Example

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It is built upon certain observed characteristics of adults, which affect the way in which they learn and relate new information (Knowles et al, 2005). Due to the distinguishing characteristics of adult learners, certain psychological theories must be applied in order to maximise on learning potential which requires several actions to be taken, such as assessing the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating a systematic instructional format based upon this. To succeed, it is dependent upon pedagogically tested psychological theories, the principal approaches being behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Primarily characterised by their individual interpretations of what constitutes ‘learning’ and how it occurs, these approaches provide instructors with verified strategies and techniques for facilitating learning. This essay will discuss the defining characteristics and necessary conditions for adult learning as postulated by theorist Malcolm Knowles. It will then examine behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism as general approaches to learning with particular emphasis on the superiority of constructivism in this context and how it can be applied to adult learning. One of the central principles which surround the teaching of adult learners is that of individual experience. “As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning” (Smith, 2011). Unlike children, adults have inevitably built up a wealth of personal experience which can be utilized in a way which can help learning, such as relating new information to previous experience, recalling previous experience, and/or using familiar examples to apply learning to unfamiliar concepts. Teaching strategies which build upon experiential learning will be an extension of everyday life (Knowles et al, 2005). Adult learners partake in a process which sees them reflect, draw inference from and conceptualize, based upon previous individual experience. As this wealth of experience is seen as the richest resource of information for the learner, it must be pointed out that individual experience is fundamentally biased and of an entirely subjective nature. This implies that new information may be interpreted in different ways, which can be advantageous as it allows for new ideas and opinions, but can also have its disadvantages regarding personal bias. A second principle which is determined to be of special significance to adult learning is that of the self-concept. Within the paradigm of learning, self-concept relates to the movement of an individual’s perception of themselves as a self-directed person rather than being dependent upon others. Adults are viewed as being responsible and fully accountable for their own decisions and therefore must be treated as autonomous learners. Due to this perspective, autonomy is seen as vitally important for this theory. In its broadest sense, self-directed learning describes a set of actions in which potential learners take the initiative in identifying their learning needs and goals, and evaluating learning outcomes. The steps involved in working through such a process have generated several model which have since been re-imagined into a more interactive design which takes into account the nature and contextual elements of the learning (Cooper, 2009). Readiness to learn, or motivation to learn, is another ...Show more


Constructivism as the Most Effective Psychological Learning Theory to Apply to Adult Learners Course: Lecturer: Module Code and Title: Date Submitted: Andragogy, as a relatively modern term, describes the process of developing and executing learning strategies focused solely on adult learners…
Author : nelskoepp
Behaviorism essay example
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