DOMAINS OF LEARNING

The three domains of learning are:

• Cognitive : To recall, calculate, discuss, analyze, problem solve, etc.

• Psychomotor : To dance, swim, ski, dive, drive a car, ride a bike, etc.

• Affective : To like something or someone, love, appreciate, fear, hate, worship, etc.

These domains are not mutually exclusive. For example, in learning to play chess, the person will have to learn the rules of the game (cognitive domain); but he also has to learn how to set up the chess pieces on the chessboard and also how to properly hold and move a chess piece (psychomotor). Furthermore, later in the game the person may even learn to love the game itself, value its applications in life and appreciate its history (affective domain).

MATHEMATICAL MODELS OF LEARNING

An unheralded British academic was invited to try out his theories in Belgium - it led to an upturn in the Belgian economy. "Unless your ideas are ridiculed by experts they are worth nothing," says the British academic Reg Revans, creator of action learning (L = P + Q) - learning occurs through a combination of programmed knowledge (P) and the ability to ask insightful questions (Q).

Action learning has been widely used in Europe for combining formal management training with learning from experience. A typical program is conducted over a period of 6 to 9 months. Teams of learners with diverse backgrounds conduct field projects on complex organizational problems requiring use of skills learned in formal training sessions. The learning teams then meet periodically with a skilled instructor to discuss, analyze and learn from their experiences.

Revans basis his learning method on a theory called "System Beta," in that the learning process should closely approximate the "scientific method." The model is cyclical - you proceed through the steps and when you reach the last step you relate the analysis to the original hypothesis and if need be, start the process again. The six steps are:

• Formulate Hypothesis (an idea or concept).

• Design Experiment (consider ways of testing truth or validity of idea or concept).

• Apply in Practice (put into effect, test of validity or truth).

• Observe Results (collect and process data on outcomes of test).

• Analyze Results (make sense of data).

• Compare Analysis (relate analysis to original hypothesis).

Note that you do not always have to enter this process at step 1, but you do have to complete the process.

People learn through observing others' behavior, attitudes and outcomes of those behaviors. "Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences.

1. Attention: various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One's characteristics (e.g., sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.

2. Retention: remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal.

3. Reproduction: reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities and self-observation of reproduction.

4. Motivation: having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as a past (i.e., traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model).

Bandura believed in "reciprocal determinism", that is, the world and a person's behavior cause each other, while behaviorism essentially states that one's environment causes one's behavior, Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior and one's psychological processes (one's ability to entertain images in minds and language).

Social learning theory has sometimes been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory and motivation. The theory is related to Vygotsky's Social Development Theory and Lave's Situated Learning, which also emphasize the importance of social learning.

Learning is not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity learning - the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his 'cruiser'. For all the talk of learning amongst educational policymakers and practitioners, there is a surprising lack of attention to what it entails. In Britain and Northern Ireland, for example, theories of learning do not figure strongly in professional education programmes for teachers and those within different arenas of informal education. It is almost as if it is something is unproblematic and that can be taken for granted. Get the instructional regime right, the message seems to be and learning (as measured by tests and assessment regimes) will follow. This lack of attention to the nature of learning inevitably leads to an impoverishment of education. It is not simply that the process is less effective as a result, but what passes for education can actually diminish well-being.

Here we begin by examining learning as a product and as a process. The latter takes us into the arena of competing learning theories - ideas about how learning may happen. We also look at Alan Roger's (2003) helpful discussion of task-conscious or acquisition learning and learning-conscious or formalized learning.

 
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