News & Events

What are the five major learning theories?

five major learning theories

Learning theory defines the mechanism through which we process, receive, and retain knowledge through learning. Understanding learning theories will help you understand how kids learn and how the surrounding environment affects their learning. The five main learning theories listed below can assist you in improving children's academic performance.

  • Cognitive learning theory
  • Behaviourism learning theory
  • Constructivism learning theory
  • Humanism learning theory
  • Connectivism learning theory

Cognitive learning theory

Cognitive learning theory emphasises the role of mental processes, which include perception, memory, attention and reasoning, in acquiring information and skills. According to this theory, learning involves the construction of active knowledge, not the passive absorption of information. Its focus is on mental operations such as problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making.

Two of the earliest philosophers who focused on the way of thinking were Plato and Descartes. After that, many other researchers worked on how humans think, and Jean Piaget was one of them. He studied how thinking gets affected by external and internal factors.

Cognitive learning can help children to understand the thought process, which assists them in learning new things. By understanding how their thought process works, you can create specific learning opportunities for them which can help them grow.

Behaviourism learning theory

According to the behaviourism learning theory, our behaviours depend upon the external environment. Conditioning is the process through which behaviours are formed. Theoretically, a learner is uninfluenced by behavioural factors when they are born. Some other factors that affect the behaviour of humans are positive and negative reinforcement. To promote good behaviour, positive reinforcement, such as an award or recognition, is used, and negative reinforcements, such as punishment, are used to prevent a behaviour from occurring again or remove it.

There are broadly three types of behaviourism:-

- Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a process of associating one stimulus with another stimulus to learn new behaviour. One stimulus leads to an automatic response, while another stimulus leads to a neutral response. The first experiment on classical conditioning was conducted by Russian psychologists Ivan Pavlov. In the experiment, dogs were trained to associate the sound of the bell with their desire for food. So, when the dogs heard the sound of the bell, they showed signs of hunger, while the smell of food prompted a neutral response.

- Operant conditioning

In operant conditioning, outcomes decide the behaviour of an individual. The basis of operant conditioning is that a person will engage in a behaviour if he believes it will cause a reward. Similarly, if he predicts a negative result, he is less likely to engage in the behaviour. Schools in Baddi add elements of different theories to the learning environment to cater to the specific needs of students.

- Observational learning

Observational learning is the process in which an individual learns through the behaviour of others. They observe others’ behaviour, retain their behaviour and behave similarly in the future. Children typically learn by observing their parents, teachers, friends and other people with whom they interact. According to psychologists, children are more likely to imitate a behaviour if they see positive results. Similarly, they are less likely to imitate a behaviour if they observe punishment or negative results.

Constructivism learning theory

Constructivism learning theory suggests that individuals create their understanding through previous experiences. According to this theory, previous experiences and knowledge play a crucial role in shaping how an individual perceives new information. Teachers can utilize constructivism in the classroom to help children incorporate their personal experiences into their learning.

Humanism Learning Theory

Humanism and constructivism are closely related to each other. According to the humanism learning theory, every person has the capacity for personal development and self-actualization. It also focuses on the needs, interest s, and motivations of individuals. So, we should create a supportive and non-threatening environment for children.

Connectivism learning theory

Proposed by George Siemens in the early 2000s, connectivism learning is a process of adding new information and experience into one’s network of knowledge. The connectivism theory suggests that information is distributed across a network of connections rather than restricted to a single person or organisation. Best schools in Nalagarhincorporate learning theories into their curriculum to meet the diverse learning needs of students.

How can you apply these theories?

Learning theories can support your child's academic growth and personal growth. There are various ways through which you can apply learning theories at home.

1. Engage children in those activities that can help them discover things on their own. Give them opportunities to learn new things, discuss important things with them and ask them questions to know how they think.

2. Provide them opportunities to interact with others by engaging them in community work, family activities, and so on. Volunteering with a mentor also helps them learn from their adults.

3. Teach your children good study habits, such as creating flashcards for memorising things and using different memory techniques.

4. Reward your children for desirable behaviour and punish/penalise them for undesirable behaviour. For example, you can praise your child/provide them with extra privileges for completing their homework/ getting good marks or take away their privileges when they don’t follow your rules.

5. Create an environment where empathy, warmth and communication are promoted. Let your children share their opinions and listen to their concerns.

The bottom line

Each learning theory emphasises a distinct learning perspective that can positively affect students' progress. You may create the ideal atmosphere for kids by comprehending these learning processes and putting them into practice at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which learning theory is best for teaching?

Each learning theory offers unique insights and is effective in a different situation, so there is “no” best learning theory. Apply a combination of learning theories to create a learning environment that is dynamic and engaging.

Who is the father of learning theory?

B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist, is considered the father of learning theory. Skinner is remembered for his work in behaviourism. However, one thing to note is that many other researchers and psychologist has contributed to learning theory.