Conditioning, Social Learning, Information Processing
Classical conditioning is a basic behaviorism concept. It has roots all the way back to Ivan Pavlov. It is the basis of the school of psychology Behaviorism. In terms of education, it is considered one of the most understood learning processes. It almost always includes some form of response to some form of stimulus. In its very basic form, a behavior occurs and it rewarded with a positive response. The subject becomes aware that the behavior caused the positive response, so they continue that behavior. This can also be used to give negative responses to bad behavior. In early schooling, positive reinforcement in the form of encouragement or small gifts (e.g. snacks or toys) is used often to keep students engaged and on task. As students move through their respective schooling tracks, the reinforcement often comes in the form of good or bad grades for academic performance. This is standard in almost every school. It becomes effective only when the students understand the context of a good or bad grade. It can also be applied to control general behavior, such as punishment for acting out, or using some form of stimulus to get the attention of the classroom.
Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory comes from Albert Bandura. He asserted that learning could be acquired as part of a social situation through observation. Bandura states that no reinforcement or stimuli needs to be in place for learning to occur. He refers to the stimuli as a model of behavior. A learning subject needs to observe the model and then reproduce the behavior. This is shown in the classic example of the Bobo Doll Experiment, in which Bandura shows children how to treat an inflatable doll. Children emulated behavior of the people that they watched. In an educational setting, this can be effective for showing children how to do problems or behave in a classroom. When a teacher gives an example problem, she is modeling the behavior for students to emulate. They can observe and retain the process and behavior shown by their teacher in order to reproduce it later on homework and tests. This type of learning is also dangerous in the classroom, as when students who act out are not dealt with, others will see that there aren’t consequences for acting out and will start to do so. Social Learning theory has a lot of emphasis on self-efficacy and self-reliance by having children observe situations and make assumptions on what to do to move forward, such as questions on the board at the start of a class.
Information Processing Theory
Information Processing theory is the belief that learning occurs as people receive information rather than responding to stimuli. This theory tends to treat how humans think and process information the same way that a computer might do so. It focuses on cognitive processes such as perception, problem solving, and conceptualizing ideas. Much of this is based in the short and long term memory storage of humans and how those memories are encoded. Sensory memory is what is occurring around a human, which is transferred to working memory. Rehearsal of the things in the working memory can encode it into the long term memory. An effective retrieval takes that information back out into the short term memory to be used. This is the most current theory of how learning happens and is the most widely accepted. It is applied in almost all upper level classrooms, by using lecture to expose students to information and then homework and worksheets to be the rehearsal process. This has a lot of implications for the classroom because it gives a lot more credit to the student and their cognitive abilities. It gives way for a higher level of learning to occur rather than a basic response to stimuli.