This semester, I learned variousapproaches and theories behind knowing andlearning in math and science. The class and I were able tocategorize the class content into three categories: cognitive development,learning environments, and learning theories. Each category contains theessential aspects that I learned from this course to become an educator.Learning theories describe how alearner understands, handles, and retains knowledge. The four theories arebehaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, and connectivism. Behaviorismemphasized that learning is the producing preferred behaviors. Behavioristsmeasured, changed, and trained the behavior of subjects through conditioning. Classical conditioninguses automatic response behavior to some stimulus while operant conditioninguses consequences to shape voluntary behavior.
Constructivism focuses on the learner owning the knowledge throughpersonal experiences and their reflections of them. I like that the studentsare in charge of figuring out the problem and are thus more likely tounderstand. They can reflect, extend and transfer ideas based on what theyexperienced. Cognitivism focuses onthe mind and the mental processes like thinking, knowing, memory, and problemsolving. Cognitive development has so much information and research that it isa separate category.
Lastly, connectivismis a learning theory that gives insight to tasks and learning skills neededfor learners to thrive in modern times. Technologyhas made it easier for us to use online resources to obtain knowledge and beconnected to the online community. Although there are advantages anddisadvantages for each theory, a balance between the four theories serve as asolid foundation of learning. Cognitive development is the study of cognitivism. It had four pioneers: Piaget,Vygotsky, Erikson, and Kolb.
Piagetwas a psychologist who established the first cognitive theory. He created the Stages of Cognitive Development, whichconsisted of the sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, andformal operational stage. The sensorimotor stage starts with newbornsand toddlers; they gain knowledge by playing with objects. The pre-operationalstage is when the child can speak and can understand a word’s meaning, whichhappens between ages two and seven. At the concrete operational stage, kids notonly think symbolically, but they think more logically too. However, theysometimes fail to understand abstract concepts like conservation. Fromadolescence and into adulthood, people are able to see alternate solutions toproblems and think more scientifically about the world.
The other parts of Piaget’s contribution were schema and adaptation. Schemas are grouped pieces of knowledge thathelp us to interpret and understand while adaptation is the process of adjusting a schemabecause of new knowledge. Adaptation includes assimilation,accommodation, and equilibrium.
Assimilationincorporates a new situation into an existing schema while accommodation either adjusts an existing schema to fit the newsituation or creates a new schema. Whennew information goes through assimilation without any difficulties, it iscalled equilibrium. Cognitive dissonance, which is discomfort stemming from twoconflicting beliefs, occurs during disequilibrium. But the child can restoreequilibrium by either creating a new schema or ignoring the new information.
Overall, Piaget’s theory mainlyfocused on the specific learning development a child goes through from birth toadolescence.