Learning theories interpret how people learn, i.e. how the human brain acquires new knowledge. Scientists do not entirely agree on this, and specific hypotheses have been accepted or rejected at some point. Although the origin of learning theories can be discussed, the time in which they become adults seems quite clear. Only in the last decade has this form of cognitive studies come to the forefront of psychology and effectively integrated such diverse fields as philosophy, neurology, and anthropology. In October 1975, Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky debated language and learning. After that point, more and more magazines are being published, hundreds of books are being printed, and an increasing number of institutions, foundations, and governments are deciding to support such research.
Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura proposed a theory that suggests that observation, imitation, and modelling play a primary role in teaching. Bandura’s design combines elements from behavioural approaches, indicating that all behaviours are learned through conditions and cognitive teaching, which consider psychological influences such as attention and memory.
Three key concepts are at the core of this theory. The first is that students can get information through observation. The next idea is that internal mental states are essential for this action. Finally, it recognises that just because something has been learned does not mean that it will change behaviour.
Accordingly, the concept can have several real-world applications. For example, it can help researchers recognise how observational learning can transmit aggression and violence. By studying media violence, researchers’ understanding of the factors that can lead children to act on aggressive actions they see on television and in movies is increased.
However, it can also be used to teach students positive behavior. Researchers can use the theory to explore and appreciate how beneficial models can encourage desirable behaviours and facilitate changes in society. In this point of view, we can also say that financial education is important as it shapes the world and affects each person’s life.
The increasing penetration of technology into the educational process has resulted in technology-oriented pedagogy. This implies the connectivism by George Siemens, who presented it on his blog in 2004.
The theory studies how people acquire a grasp in the digital age. Additionally, it represents the integration of schemes that appear in chaos theory, self-organisation, and networks. Theorists advocate an organisation of learning in which there is no amount of learning materials that should be transferred from teacher to student. In such an organisation, tutoring does not occur in one place. Instead, it is distributed online, and engaging students online is practical learning.
The concept envisages the possibility of improving learning through four main types of activities:
(1) aggregation ˗ access to and collection of a wide range of examples and resources for reading, watching, or playing,
(2) establishing a relationship ˗ thinking and connecting the content of learning with what is already known or with previous experience follows after aggregation;
(3) creation ˗ this step implies that students can create something themselves (for example, a blog);
(4) sharing ˗ first, students learn, then share online works through interaction with others.
As an obvious direction in psychology, behaviourism dominated during the early half of the 20th century, although it still exists today. According to this concept of learning, human behaviour is directly related to the elements that come from its environment.
Behaviourists found learning a significant change, shaping behaviour under stimuli, and studying a mechanical model of human behaviour. These theories are based on the stimulus-response relationship and point to the importance of repetition and reinforcement. Therefore, this can be summarised in the famous abbreviation SR (stimulus – reaction) – experiences occur as a practical result of a response to the influence of a particular stimulus.
With the advent of neobehaviorism, Hal, Skinner, and Tolman developed functional models that suggest a cognitively oriented way of studying behaviour. It is understood how complex and the most negligible reactions of a living organism are and how the context is mainly responsible for understanding their significance. In a natural, enriched environment, humans and animals assume roles, even the most specific behaviours, in ways that can no longer be classified into rigid patterns of cause-and-effect relationships.
The starting point of the humanistic approach is that students, through the school system and classrooms, should primarily satisfy their interests and talents to develop in the way that suits them best. Students should rely on their strengths. Educators are expected to help them find the expertise and skills they want to learn, making an “action plan” for each individual.
Students should take responsibility for their learning – the content, manner, and efficiency of education depend on them. Personal assessment and self-assessment of learning success are more desirable than checking by the teacher. Mistakes are inevitable, i.e. they are an opportunity to master, and this should not be motivated by fear. Tests organised by the teachers lead to passive memorisation and the race for grades, and less to real learning and personal development.
The constructivist approach focuses on the question that guides the teachers: how do we help students construct their meanings for the knowledge they acquire? Students should be enabled to think, discuss, and understand ideas to be reconstructed into personal purposes. They need to “master” the idea they are learning about.
This further presumes teachers teach through questions. They do not explain and let students solve problems, make decisions, form attitudes, analyse external cases, and work on projects. Accordingly, even a child can activate multiple thought functions.