Principles of Learning David Robertson

As the Course Lecturer for the Automotive Department at Newcastle College it is my duty, and end, to guarantee that the basic underpinning cognition ( both practical and theoretical ) of Motor Vehicle Engineering is delivered to the pupils of the section so they may fix, either for City and Guilds scrutiny, or employment in a local motor vehicle constitution.

Many weighty volumes have been penned with respect to the annoyed inquiry of Learning Theories in instruction, their supposed benefits, and their effects upon larning and whether they exist as separate entities at all. However, before any decisions can be arrived at, an apprehension of the assorted theories, their chief supporters and their consequence upon larning will necessitate to be grasped. After a casual probe into the single theory I will follow up with my ideas as to the deductions in relation to my peculiar country of instruction. Prior to this analysis it is necessary to supply an overview of the acquisition manners presently used in the field of Education

These manners fall into three groups:

A/ Cognitive- In the Cognitive manner pupils gain theoretical cognition through the airing of information normally in a category based environment. This is extremely relevant to drive vehicle technology as the topic is inherently complex.

B/ Psychomotor- In the Psychomotor manner pupils are required to show a scope of practical workshop based accomplishments. This is critical in that the topic is one that demands a grade of manual sleight.

C/ Affective- In the Affective manner pupils learn how to carry on themselves perform and follow the right attitude in a workshop environment. This is merely a instance of endurance ; a workshop is a potentially unsafe topographic point to be in.

All of the above manners are, to changing grades and dependent upon the lesson in inquiry, employed in the theories listed below.

Learning theories, or rules of acquisition, have been developed ( sometimes over decennaries ) and honed to better the instructors apprehension of the procedure of pupil acquisition.

Therefore, instructors require an apprehension of these rules, which highlight countries where pupils are most likely to associate to, and so learn from. These rules include the Fieldss of:





Social Learning

We as instructors, sometimes without cognizing it, be given to accommodate our manner of bringing to suit these rules subconsciously. However, with an apprehension of these rules combined with a background cognition of the pupils themselves, such rules, as listed above, could good better the manner in which a lesson is delivered, and so, accordingly, better the acquisition of the pupils.


The group of educationists, known jointly as the Cognitivists, among whom are the noteworthy figures of Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner and Lev Vygotsky topographic point major accent on the pupils themselves and how they get, and mentally organize, the cognition they gain, in consequence how they “ know ” the universe around them. The overall procedure is a complex system of unseeable mental activities working together to bring forth a nett addition in understanding. Basically, it is about thought, deriving cognition, retrieving and concluding.

Pioneering work in the field of cognitive development was chiefly done with kids in an effort to understand how they learn, so cognitive development can be viewed as the growing of logical thought over clip ( state as the kid matures ) and with due mention to the scholars environment from childhood to adulthood. Professor J.Bruner termed this as a signifier of “ scaffolding ” , whereby an grownup would bit by bit take the support built up around the kid ( or older scholar ) as they become more able to understand, or maestro, a peculiar undertaking.

The Russian Marxist Philosopher Lev Vygotsky nevertheless ( working in pre WWII Russia ) , given he is in the Cognitivist cantonment, did non utilize the staging theory at all, alternatively he developed a parallel theory called The Zone of Proximal Development in which the scholar is at the Centre of a group of homocentric circles, with what is already known at the Centre and what is to be learned radiating out in rings. The overall construct is that the scholar, with aid from either older kids or grownups, moves ( via direction ) from the interior countries to the outer thereby deriving cognition and proficiency.

This is reinforced by Reece & A ; Walker who province “ Students do non simply receive information, but actively make a form of what it means to them ” . ( Reece & A ; Walker 2003 p86 )

In the Cognitive attack to instruction, cognition is viewed as symbolic and as the overall consequence of larning while larning itself occurs through the repeat of a peculiar undertaking. The pupil is encouraged and motivated to experiment, from which they will hopefully deduce a sense of accomplishment.

With mention to my learning the Cognitive attack is clearly apparent, and so it lends itself ideally to the country as job resolution and experimentation ( for illustration reiterating a undertaking until proficient ) is a major tool in the assessment procedure of my scholars. An illustration of this is when a peculiar pupil listens to my verbal bringing, so understands the construct and eventually remembers the solution to a job ; besides if they can hold on the logical thinking behind the job so they will hold fulfilled all four standards for cognitive acquisition. They can so come on and utilize this maintained cognition to work out other, more complex, Motor Vehicle Engineering inquiries.

The of import thing to retrieve is that my scholars are non inactive in this state of affairs, but originative in footings of what the instruction and acquisition agencies to them, they are active participants in the acquisition procedure, utilizing their cognitive accomplishments to understand a fresh state of affairs.


As Curzon ( 1997 p36 ) states “ Behaviourism arose as a reaction to larning being interpreted as mere mental operation ” .

The Behaviourist attack to acquisition is based on a chiefly nineteenth century construct that following a scientific attack to the survey of human existences, and their responses to outside stimulations, may good supply an penetration into how people learn. It was to a great extent influenced by animate being experiments ( a front-runner of many behaviorists ) which demonstrated the consequence on encephalon forms of controlled conditions and stimulation ; it was further argued that this could be carried over to worlds.

The Russian Physicist Pavlov ( 1849-1936 ) is best known for his experiments with Canis familiariss. Basically, he linked a specific sound with the proviso of nutrient which caused the Canis familiaris to salivate. After some clip he discovered that the mere sound would do the Canis familiaris to salivate, so reenforcing the theory that a stimulation based response was taking topographic point in the Canis familiaris. However when this was carried over to conditional human responses the ability of worlds to utilize linguistic communication to pass on “ muddied the Waterss ” slightly as this accomplishment interfered with pure inherent aptitudes based responses.

He concluded that worlds have fewer inherent aptitudes than animate beings ( or instead the 1s we had have been eroded by development ) hence human behavior is governed by conditional responses. He besides believed that mental phenomenon could be dealt with objectively and scientifically when it is seen as discernible and mensurable behavior.

John B Watson was another chief advocate of the Behaviourist school of idea in relation to human acquisition. He thought that behavior could be modified through the actions of assorted stimulations upon the individual and that, as a effect, the person in inquiry could be “ conditioned ” through these stimulations to bring on a alteration in behavior so prima to larning taking topographic point.

In my instruction I use the procedure of giving feedback as a signifier of encouragement, and sometimes dispute, whether it is in the signifier of verbal congratulations, following a direct inquiry aimed at a peculiar pupil or in a written mode after measuring an assignment. I have found that positive feedback from me will take to better future work, and an increased degree of assurance, from the pupil. So in this manner a stimulations based response system is productive in my field. Positive feedback is an about guaranteed manner of bring oning larning in a pupil but this has to be tempered by the times when I have to be critical of the work of a pupil, it is a equilibrating act, on my portion, to happen the right degree of stimulations ( feedback ) to promote a pupil without detering them by being excessively critical.

Sometimes a critical feedback study from me is designed, and worded, to advance a response in the peculiar pupil as if I am throwing down a challenge to them to better.


The Humanist acquisition rule, or Humanism, grew out of a sense of dissatisfaction with other larning theories, particularly Behaviourism. The humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow ( 1890-1970 ) believed a scholar ‘s physiological demands, safety demands and the sense of belonging to a group had to be fulfilled before the motive to larn was realised, and his now celebrated ‘Hierarchy of Needs ‘ pyramid high spots this in item, runing, as it does, from the basic demands of nutrient and shelter at the base up to self-actualisation at the vertex.

Maslow confirmed this, as quoted by Curzon ( 1997 p121 ) who states that “ instruction has the undertaking of assisting each individual to go the best that he is able to go ” .

Among his beliefs were that scientific psychological science was inherently unfertile and dehumanising, he argued that people should be viewed as whole human existences and that the function of the instructor was to assist, rede and steer the pupil towards understanding. The basic needs nevertheless ( at the base of the pyramid ) are chiefly issues beyond the instructors ‘ control.

However, Kyriacou ( 1998 p72 ) states “ the increasing consciousness of the importance of furthering students ‘ ego regard has been a major development over the old ages ” .

This holistic attack to instruction pioneered by Maslow was shared by Carl Rogers who proposed that larning should be student find led. Building upon the consensus that pupils retain about 5 % of instruction delivered strictly by talk and that they retain a great trade more if the pupil finds out, or discovers, the information for themselves. Rogers called for the “ humanization of the schoolroom ” in order to make the ideal environment for acquisition.

In relation to my learning the humanistic attack to acquisition has the undermentioned deductions:

The demand to put the room environment in a mode contributing to larning ( so at least trying to carry through Maslow ‘s most basic demands ) for illustration warming, illuming and chair agreement to name but three is non ever possible for logistical grounds.

I need to move as a facilitator, or conduit, through which pupil acquisition can happen. In other words become a resource for the pupils to use and work.

There is a demand to integrate my ain experiences of the topic into the lesson bringing, but some of my “ narratives ” loose something in the relation.

All the clip non burying that I am the instructor and the pupils are at College to larn through my direction so at that place will necessarily be a certain grade of farness on my portion even if merely for the fact that I can ne’er be a portion of the group wholly, there is, and has to be, a limit line between instructor and pupil. For this ground entirely ( if no other ) the Humanism theory of instruction is one that I do non favor in its classical complete sense. However parts of it I can, and do, utilize for illustration I find it benefits most groups if I adopt the “ older brother ” ethos on occasion instead than ever portraying the distant instructor.


Gestalt ( from the German for structured form ) is the school of educational thought concerned with following an overall position to acquisition, in other words the whole is greater than the amount of the single parts. Gestaltists believe that understanding demands consciousness, on the portion of the pupil, of the relationship between assorted facts and how they interrelate to bring forth an overall image.

Previous experiences in the life of the scholar will assist to lend to the procedure of apprehension, but the existent procedure of thought is more of import than mere callback. Understanding, harmonizing to Gestaltists, is based upon a procedure known as Insight. Insight is non a lucky conjecture, arrived at by mere opportunity, but is when a pupil all of a sudden becomes cognizant of the solution to a job ; the “ light bulb above the caput ” or the “ penny dropping ” seems to sum up the state of affairs absolutely. Something that, on the surface, is an bete noire to repetitive or rote acquisition. It is fundamentally the gaining, or acquisition, and keeping of penetration, by the pupil, that is at the bosom of the theory of Gestalt. Besides the choice and retrieval of information is indispensable if other, new constructions of perceptual experience are to be created.

The thought is that the instructor must construction larning during the lesson so that scholars reach an overview, detect inter-relationships, and can therefore pattern independent productive thought.

In the world of my mundane learning the whole construct of leting the pupil to come across the correct reply by penetration is to state the least

impractical. Faced with a group of Motor Vehicle pupils fighting to hold on the complexnesss of the internals of a auto engine and stating to them that the reply will come if merely they had insight is unusually brave of any teacher Lashkar-e-Taiba alone me. This may good work on a one to one footing when I, the instructor, have the clip to give but with a big category, of changing ability, it is a non-starter in footings of a instruction scheme.

Social Learning

Besides known as the Social Cognitive Theory, this peculiar field of involvement narrows in on how people learn in a societal context or, in other words, the procedure whereby people gain cognition through societal interaction either by talking to, detecting, or following the illustration of another individual, or group of people, in a societal ( or vocational ) scene.

An illustration of Social Learning ( that most people will hold undergone ) is when a new employee is inducted into the ethos of their new employer.

The innovators of Social Learning Theory ( among whom are the honored figures of A. Bandura, J. Lave and E. Wenger ) propose that the group state of affairs is ideal for breeding larning via the persons in that group working together to accomplish a common end. Inevitably, in any group, there will be a broad assortment of anterior acquisition or experience but it is this really diverseness that is the strength of this peculiar theory.

Because a diverse scope of people are “ thrown ” together in a group state of affairs this requires them to speak, interact, communicate & A ; acquire involved in the job in inquiry hopefully taking to a solution to the job and bring oning a alteration in behavior ( larning ) in the persons. Because the group have a inquiry to reply this is the foundation upon which duologue is built and, as Lindeman ( 1926 p86 ) says:

“ Active engagement in interesting personal businesss furnishes proper stimulations for rational growing ” .

In my instruction I use the Social Learning attack rather frequently. I find that a group work state of affairs will normally be more productive in footings of retained larning than a talk based bringing manner. I see myself as more of a ‘facilitator ‘ than a ‘teacher ‘ in these Sessionss, by steering the pupils towards accomplishing larning by their ain, co-operative, attempts. I simply lay the foundations for the session by presenting certain inquiries and so ‘taking a spot of a back place ‘ as it were, all the clip monitoring advancement. At the terminal of the allowed clip for the exercising I will draw together the ideas from the disparate groups hopefully reenforcing the acquisition that has taken topographic point and rounding up any accomplishment in the session.

Of the instruction theories illustrated above I have found that I personally favour the Cognitivist attack ; it has good deductions for my instruction, it lends itself ideally to the instruction of Engineering although the other theories are, to changing grades, helpful ( except Gestalt ) depending upon the peculiar acquisition activity in inquiry. Understanding the assorted larning theories can be utile, if non indispensable, in integrating different learning methods into the lessons. I recognise that over clip I teach, and deliver in, all of the larning countries nevertheless, concentrating on the most appropriate country ( and pupil larning manner ) should assist to better the success of my instruction.