The whole history of the formation and development of human learning as a separate area of activity indicates that the learning should be continuous and adaptive. In this connection, the paper aims at the comparing and contrasting of the most suitable conceptual models, learning theories, and motivational theories related to my project.
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It seems appropriate to compare the behaviorist and social learning conceptual frameworks in order to reflect their significance for my project as both of them focus on relevant issues.
Behaviorist Learning Theory
Behaviorism is the learning approach to studying human behavior. In the behaviorism concept, a human is primarily understood as a respondent and learning person with certain reactions and actions. The principal idea of behaviorist theory as a psychological-pedagogical concept is that student behavior is a controlled process. According to Kay and Kibble (2016), “educators adopting a behaviorist approach are concerned with what students do (responses) as a result of environmental cues (antecedents or stimuli) and environmental consequences” (18).
Modern behaviorism actively develops in different directions enriching by means of new ideas and methods of learning and teaching. As a matter of fact, the organization of teaching and learning plays an important role. Precisely speaking, the approach consists of competency-based learning, person-centered learning, and problem-based learning.
On the contrary to the social learning theory, the competency-based approach requires instructions and regulations of the process of algorithms’ assimilation activity, namely, behavior. The behaviorist learning theory is shown in a new activity when transferring knowledge in a new irregular situation. As the paramount purpose of learning from the perspective of the behaviorist approach is the formation of personality, the development of its inclinations and abilities providing efficient operation in all spheres of public life, I would like to apply it in my project.
The mentioned theory creates necessary conditions for the full realization of students’ capabilities, their self-determination, and self-development through the establishment of competence and personal qualities. It allows successful operating in new, uncertain, or problematic situations in their personal, professional, and social lives.
Finally, I find the facts concerning behaviorist learning that are listed below rather significant in the framework of my project:
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- the content of the teaching material is designed as a system of educational problems reflecting the contradictions of science, practice, and learning activities;
- the process of the educational activity occurs in the form of the dialogical communication and interaction between the teacher and students;
- the cognitive activity is carried out according to the problem and information issues prepared by the teacher or arising in the course of introduction, analysis, and resolution of problematic situations;
- the problematic issues are directed to the future pointing the essence of the educational problems that should be resolved.
Social Learning Theory
Likewise, the core substance of the social learning theory is that people do not learn through direct reinforcement but through observation models (Lapkin, Levett-Jones, & Gilligan, 2013). The teaching process takes place under the supervision of the behavior of the model and the mental repetition of its actions. Then the observed behavior is simulated, and the cycle is completed. As a result, it is considered that a person is able to reproduce the observed behavior. All in all, the phenomenon of behavior reproduction, otherwise known as modeling, includes four processes: attitude, storing, motor reproduction, and motivation.
Similarly to behaviorism, according to the social learning theory, human behavior is governed by complex interactions between the internal phenomena including faith, expectations, and self-image, and environmental factors. People shape the environment, and, at the same time, the environment shapes people. Through verbal and figurative representations, the individual analyzes the experience, models, and stores it to the extent that would serve as a benchmark for future performance. The experience modeling affects learning through the informative function of experience.
On the contrary to behaviorism, it is expected that learning occurs only when determinants of individual behavior regulation are included in the form of two types of reinforcement, particularly, indirect and direct. The indirect reinforcement appears when simulating the behavior of the selected model and reinforcements from outside. Direct reinforcement suggests inner consciousness and motivation.
Thus, the principal function of the teacher is to create an environment conducive to creative expression, personality development, and self-reliance of students shaping their system of values. In its turn, it would enhance students’ level of awareness and responsibility in the learning process. All in all, teachers should not only consider teaching strategies but also increase a student’s learning activity. Therefore, it is necessary to use the mixed method of learning that would depend on the particular theme, type of assignment, or students’ behavior.
The self-efficacy of the individual in social learning theory that was elaborated by Bandura implies a conscious person’s ability to cope with specific and complex situations and make an impact on the efficiency and functioning of the personality as a whole (Keating, 2011). A person who has realized his self-efficacy has made greater efforts to meet the challenges than those who had doubted in their abilities. A high self-efficacy is associated with the expectation of success and typically leads to a positive result.
Therefore, it promotes the self-esteem of the person. Conversely, low self-efficacy is associated with the expectation of failure results and, thus, lowers self-esteem. The person considering himself unable to cope with difficult situations pays excessive attention to his shortcomings and constantly engages in self-criticism of his incompetence (Pike & O’Donnell, 2010). In contrast, the person considering himself as self-efficient imagines a good scenario providing positive guidance to the organization of his behavior of successful actions and decisions.
Role modeling also seems to be one of the essential theories for my project. In the process of this method, there is a simulation that is reasoning about the similarity of objects in certain respects on the basis of their similarity in a number of other relations (Berragan, 2011). With this technique, I associate the role modeling that is particularly prevalent in the modern world. The role modeling is based on the principle of similarity, in other words, it explores not the object itself yet its counterpart, and then obtained knowledge is transferred to the object itself.
At the same time, I chose the role modeling as it is not only a means of mapping phenomena or processes of the real world but also an objective practical criterion for testing the truth of knowledge serving as a model that is considered to be adequate. While applying a unity with other learning theories, the role modeling appears as a process of deepening the knowledge.
Cooperative Learning Strategy
I consider the cooperative learning strategy is the most suitable for the given topic as it develops constructivism and is centered on social interaction. Cooperative learning is closely linked to the motivational process. According to Killen, “the learners must function as a cohesive group to achieve specific learning goals” (2009, p. 212). For instance, successful students who differ by their personal initiative have a higher level of self-efficacy beliefs in self-motivation, competence in relation to the target orientation, and focus on strategic planning. On the contrary, slow learners are distinguished by their arising apathy and helplessness including in attempting to improve the quality of their education.
They are often assessing their knowledge and skills too high that leads to the neglect of their studies, non-strategic approaches, delay, and inadequate attribution. Moreover, James emphasizes that cooperative learning is not just a group working together but also the process when “student groups are assigned a task for which each member’s contribution is essential for the good of the whole group” (2011, p. 88). Therefore, cooperative learning contributes to the interaction of all students in the class and productive learning. Basically, the aim of the teacher lies in providing students with tools and instructions for learning and monitoring their join work.
In particular, the so-called “Six Thinking Hats” method is one of the most effective methods of organization of thinking designed by English writer, psychologist, and expert in the field of creative thinking Edward de Bono. The above method allows us to develop flexibility of mind, creativity, helps to make the decision, and more specifically relates thinking with the objectives and challenges. It is particularly well suited for the discussion of unusual and innovative ideas when it is important to take into account any views and to consider the situation from different planes
Skinner’s Reinforcement Theory
Being a part of the behaviorist theory, Skinner’s reinforcement theory is one of the most suitable motivational frameworks for my project. The theory of reinforcement by Skinner argues that human behavior depends on the environment and does not need to look for cognitive explanations. The theory focuses on the statement that the behavior that had positive implications will be repeated and vice versa.
The process of reinforcement works so that the stimulator provides the key to the answer or behavior after that investigation in human behavior there are four types of reinforcements that help the educator to influence the behavior of learners: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, attenuation, and punishment. Several studies have shown that positive reinforcement contributes to the acceleration of human growth, and the negative one leads to immature people (Keating, 2011).
I consider that the continuous positive reinforcement is the most effective in the early stages of learning as the learner’s every effort is accompanied by advantageous results. Similarly, partial reinforcement is the most effective when the desired behavior should be maintained for a long time. All in all, the theory of Skinner has an important advantage as it is easy and convenient for practical application. However, its simplicity might play a negative role as well as it ignores the individual characteristics of the people along with the impact of the group and situation.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that the discussed learning methods encourage students to active mental and practical activities based on memorization and reproduction as well as self-mastering of knowledge and professional skills. It was also stated that such theories as a behaviorist and social learning contribute to the effectiveness of learning in the nursing area and the engagement of students in the educational process.
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Berragan, L. (2011). Simulation: An effective pedagogical approach for nursing? Nurse Education Today, 31(7), 660-663.
James, S. (2011). Revisiting an Old Friend: The Practice and Promise of Cooperative Learning for the Twenty-First Century. The Social Studies, 102(2), 88-93.
Kay, D., & Kibble, J. (2016). Learning theories 101: Application to everyday teaching and scholarship. Advances in Physiology Education, 40(1), 17-25.
Keating, S. B. (2011). Curriculum development and evaluation in nursing (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
Killen, R. (2009). Using cooperative learning as a teaching strategy. In: Effective teaching strategies: lessons from research and practice. 5th ed. (pp. 211-241). South Melbourne, Vic.: Cengage Learning.
Lapkin, S., Levett-Jones, T., & Gilligan, C. (2013). A systematic review of the effectiveness of interprofessional education in health professional programs. Nurse Education Today, 33(2), 90-102.
Pike, T., & O’Donnell, V. (2010). The impact of clinical simulation on learner self-efficacy in pre-registration nursing education. Nurse Education Today, 30(5), 405-410.