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Theories of Learning


Education is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes that make man do better. It is not only a preparation for life but it is life itself. This is so because throughout life, man learns many things in and out of school that change the life for the better. Education is informal if the things learned are acquired outside the school system. It is formal if the things learned are more acquired within a formally organized school system. In this regard, it is very important that education has a strong foundation on learning as a process of acquiring vast amount of knowledge. Foundation is defined as the base upon which any structure or system stands. A strong foundation makes the structure or system firmly established and strong enough to be able to serve its purpose and to survive calamitous events. The structure or system is like a house with a strong foundation which cannot be blown down by a typhoon nor wrecked by an earthquake no matter how strong these natural disasters are (Krause et.al, 2003). The foundations of education are those systems or sciences upon which education stands and has its roots, origins, or bases. Foundations of education are those from which education arose and came into being. There are the factors that affected education so much, particularly, curriculum content.

For this reason alone, it cannot be denied that there is a need to fully understand the psychological process of learning because of the fact that it is a part of the components in the educative process. The components in the educative process are the learner, the teaching-learning process, the teacher, and the policy-maker. The most important of these is the learner who occupies the center stage in the educational system. With this in mind, it has become important that every person in the educational system must be given attention with regard to the educative process of learning.

Education depends heavily upon psychology because the kind and amount of education that the learner acquires is conditioned by his psychological traits such as general mental ability, aptitudes, temperament, interests, effort-making capacity, physical condition, and many more. Hence, the principles of education are principally based upon the facts and principles of psychology. The principles of psychology as applied in the field of education are one of the main conditions by which education is based upon. It affect the philosophies of education and the manner by which the student can be taught and learn accordingly. Since the psychology of education is concerned with the aims of education, the program of education necessary for the realization of these aims, and the examination an evaluation of educational organization, content, methods, teacher preparation, measurement, and others with reference to the goals and ideals set up, they are bound to be conditioned by certain factors.
Psychology of education is maintained and conditioned by existing knowledge, social ideals of the society, interests of influential groups in that society, personal experience and vision of educational leaders, and individual temperament of the ones possessing the particular philosophy. The conditioning knowledge is derived from the biological, psychological, sociological, and historical fields; dominant social ideals of the particular group of that particular period; pressures from active and influential vested interests; ideas of leaders from the frontier thinkers in education; individual temperament, and from the beliefs of the individual holder of the particular philosophy. Additionally, the psychology of education is important because they perform certain functions that make the educational system effective and efficient. It will provide guidelines in the formulation of educational policies and programs and in the construction of curriculum. It is very important that such is understood for the better service to the students and in respect to the educational process and aims.

Description of the Group
It is necessary to understand the group of people or student to be analyzed accordingly. For this paper, the participant of the study will be a group of middle school individuals aged 14 years old. The gender is not classified hence; both girls and boys of the said age will be subject to analysis. The physical condition as well as the aptitude or the special talent will not be taken into special consideration. Meaning to say, all boys and girls of age 12 years old regardless of their sex, religion, or race will be subject to analysis of the application of the psychological theories of learning for better comprehension. However, it is necessary that this group is for those who are studying and are enrolled in a school to undergo educational training. The main purpose of studying this particular group of people is to know and determine the different behaviors that are being manifested in the course of studying. On the other hand, the second group to be studied is the group of 16 years old girls and boys. However, the said group has a physical disability of being handicapped but is studying in a school for educational training as well.

Analysis of the Given Case and Group
As previously discussed, the learner is the most important component in the educative process ad so he is the center of attention in the whole educational system. Hence, it is necessary to study his characteristics, his capacities, and the rest of his personality traits so that ways and means may be derived and devised to enhance his ability to assimilate learning. In the given case, the period starts at about twelve or thirteen years. This is the stage when the urge of sex begins to assert itself very rapidly. In fact, man at this stage is already capable of procreation. Physical and physiological changes in both sexes take place very fast. The growth in height and weight is also rapid. This is the early high school period.

As shown, the rate of development is not same for all individuals. Some persons develop faster than other. Sometimes the gap is wide. This uneven rate of growth and learning is caused by two major factors: heredity and environment. It is a known fact that a person inherits all the things needed for growth and development: mental ability, physical and physiological structure, emotional stability, and other traits. Some even inherit criminal tendencies. Of course, those who have inherited superior capacities learn and grow faster than those who have inherited inferior capacities. Heredity gives all the potentialities for growth and development that are needed in order to survive in the educative process. Environment, on the other hand, modifies to a certain extent the effects of heredity. A person endowed with intelligence but bereft of education cannot fully develop into a community achiever. On the other hand, a person who combines intelligence and formal education can fully develop himself into an achieving citizen.

Education is for all the people in the world. It is but the right of every person to be enrolled in a particular school and learn different things which will help them become better individual that can be considered as assets of the company more than just being liabilities. Education also means developmentalism as it is a set of systems of educational doctrines and practices developed particularly for education. It conceives education as a continuous development of the mind through exercises graded from sense impressions from object lessons to the apprehension and application of abstract ideas, development being attended by the progressive, harmonious functioning of the mind in all its capacities of action and expression. In short, this system subjects the individual to developmental tasks arranged from easy to difficult. This is an offshoot of developmentalism. Developmental or learning tasks are lessons arranged sequentially according to difficulty by maturation of the learner and by the culture of the group to which a student belongs. The task is to be performed; the task prerequisite to it must be first learned and mastered. For instance, before a child can crawl, he must first learn how to roll over, after which he learns to sit, then how to stand and finally how to walk. These sequential learning or developmental tasks are imposed by maturation. They are universal or common to all.
But then again, it cannot be denied that heredity and environment affects the psychological factors of behaviorism among the members of the aforementioned group. For example, as per the age of the given group; certainly, age is a bog factor in making one different from another. A six-year old boy cannot do nor understand what a twelve-year old boy can. As per the given case, the twelve-year old boys and girls on the first group will not fully understand what the 16-year old boys and girls of the second group can. The things being taught in school is highly different and more difficult as what is being taught on the level of the twelve-year old group. This is because of the fact that generally, older learners have more physical strength and higher level of comprehension than younger ones. This means that even in the groups mentioned, those twelve-year old boys and girls are stronger as compared to the handicapped 16-year old. This is because of the fact that there are limitations in the strength and physical capabilities of the 16-year old individuals in the given case. However, when it comes to comprehension, the level of 16-year old students is more knowledgeable and intellectual as compared to the 12-year old individuals. This is because of the fact that they have already learned new things and acquired more information with their age and years in the educational system.

Maturation and readiness are important in learning. Mature learners have greater capacity to receive instruction in accordance to the level of understanding that they are having. It must be understood that when a person is more mature, there is more understanding and ability to gain more knowledge as compared to other people because of the fact that they have more capacities to understand the lessons and the things that are happening in the educative system.

These are all pertaining to the cognitive psychological theories of education. It has been stated many a times by many psychologists that the mental ability of the people is important. Children do not have the same level of mental ability. Some are more intelligent that others. And those who are more intelligent progress and grow faster than those who are less intelligent. The former finishes professional courses which make them leaders in certain endeavors in their respective communities. On the other hand, the latter chooses careers and professions that do not demand too much work of the mind thus doing the less honorable work in the community. But then again, it can be seen that there are other factors that affect the mental ability and the growth in the intelligence of the people. It is a known fact that there intelligent people are favored. The inherent intelligence and the intellectual gift that are bestowed to the children can be altered accordingly. For example, for children and students that have physical disability, their intellect capabilities can be altered due to their physical condition. It has been observed that some people are born bigger, healthier, and stronger than others (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2007). Naturally, healthier persons progress more rapidly in their development than those who are less healthy. Moreover, they select activities that call for more energy like athletics, mechanics, driving, and others. There are also people who are born with handicaps such as deafness, muteness, defective arms or legs and the like. Naturally, normal people develop faster and better and are able to attain higher status than the handicapped people.

Because of the fact that there are many people that have been born with physical disability, it cannot be denied that it has impaired the mental development of the students that belong to the second group. Although there are instances wherein handicapped people are born with great intelligence, there are some that due to their physical condition, they are having problems with regard to comprehension and intellectual capacity.

With this, it can be said that the psychological theory on cognitive include all those latent potentialities that an individual possesses which are developed or the lack thereof through the process of education. Besides the general capacity and intelligence, an individual possesses certain special talents or aptitudes, such as those for mathematics, art, music, and the like. In addition, effort-making capacity is also an important trait of an individual. Taking all other things equal, one with a greater effort-making capacity can learn and develop faster than one with a lesser effort-making capacity. Psychologists can prove that effort-making capacity as part of the cognitive development of the students is an important trait, one with much effort-making capacity studies and work harder, concentrates more, and exhibits steadiness in his work. One cannot hope to succeed without an effort-making capacity and surely, effort-making capacity is a great determinant of success. Those who have more of this trait usually forge ahead faster than those who have less (Slavin, 2006).

In this regard, it has become important to understand that cognitive theory and learning means to be the acquisition of knowledge, facts and information, principles, ideas, concepts, understanding and reasoning. Hence, it is the manner of establishing the relationship between words or ideas and their meanings, between words or ideas and the things they refer to, between principles and the situations and conditions they are applied to. Hence, it is important that as teachers, it is important to provide an involvement of accurate understanding of the relationships of things or situations. Understanding that the materials and facts learned are systematically organized and integrated with previous learning experience are being established to a meaningful relationships between the two is very important. In order to improve the intellectual capacity of the students especially to those who are physically disabled, the association of colors and taste can be used in order to make them function normally as students (Ormerod, 2006).

On the other hand, behaviorism is also one of the most important theories of learning. Behaviorism maintains that psychology can be scientific only if it dealt with activities that can be measured objectively. Founded by Watson, behaviorism considers the stimulus-response hypothesis as its basic theory. This theory believes that a stimulus, physical or otherwise, creates a response. Behavior is considered the result of various responses to stimulation and should be controlled or directed by modifying either the stimulus or the response without regard to consciousness or the nervous system. A particular stimulus calls for a particular response and so education or training is merely a matter of building up innumerable bonds or connections between stimuli and responses (Killen, 2007). The Thorndike laws of learning were formulated by the behaviorist and stressed the law of exercise as well as the importance of drill and repetition as a mode of learning. In this regard, it can be seen that for whatever stimulus, the students will always exert a form of response. Such stimulus can be found in the environment, society and even in the schools. For example, reflexes, drives, needs, wants and urges are all forms of factors that affect the behavioral pattern of development among the students.

The inborn automatic responses to simple localized stimulation involving particular muscles and parts of the body are called reflexes. The automatic withdrawal of a foot upon stepping on a live charcoal is an example. An individual with quick reflexes learns fast action skills such as dancing, calisthenics, games of volleyball, basketball and the like. On the other hand, inborn urges and tendencies and wants refer to the instincts as drives. It includes hunger, thirst, lust or sex, rest and other which create tensions in the individual. These tendencies also give rise to ambitions which motivate individuals to exert efforts to attain their goals. The greater the urge or desire, the greater the effort exerted and the possibility of success is greater as well. Hence, motivation is really important in learning particularly in the second group mentioned.

In addition, with regard to the culture of the society, it is being considered as one of the influential stimulus a student can face. In the culture of almost all nations, sex determines certain roles. Males are expected to be aggressive, fearless, and capable of doing heavier work. Females, on the other hand, are expected to be passive, demure, prim, and the like. As to choice of profession, males are usually preferred to do farming and agriculture, engineering, military, law, medicine, forestry, and science. However, females flock to teaching, nursing, nutrition, home economics, social work, and pharmacy. Hence, to a large extent, sex determines the direction of the growth and development of individuals. Nowadays, however, some women pursue supposedly careers for a man while some men take courses for women. Whatever the society dictates form part of the response that the students will manifest accordingly. Another example would be the family background of the students. Children from poor families with very meager incomes have stunted growth especially if they have not pursued higher education or none at all.

Family background that includes level of education and value orientation of parents is another determinant. If the parents suffer from ignorance and wrong values, the children likewise suffer the adverse consequences because such parents cannot pay much attention to the proper upbringing of their children. On the other hand, children that are coming from affluent families and educated parents with right values can grow and develop more progressively than children coming from poor families. Besides, rich homes are usually provided with more learning materials and tools which the children can avail of for their learning activities. Naturally, children of affluent families can pursue higher education which is usually denied to children of poor families. The group mentioned above should be given proper and correct stimulus in order for them to give out correct response that will motivate them to study regardless of whatever they are experiencing in their own environment (Eggen & Kauchak, 2006).

There are almost as many definitions of learning as there are authorities on the subject. However, such definitions may be summarized into one more direct and comprehensive definition of: as the process of acquisition, through maturation and experience, of new and more knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable the learner to make better and more adequate reactions, responses and adjustments to new situations and conditions. With all the application of the psychological theories of learning, it will be helpful if future teachers will enable a type of learning that is reflective, analytical, and constructive thinking. This type of learning will be used in all subjects. When the problem has several aspects to be tackled, the class may be divided into several groups, each group tackling one aspect of the problem. Also, in the manner of applying behaviorism, it will be important to incorporate the type of learning wherein the formation of good and acceptable attitudes, judgments, appreciations, and values. It will be the acquisition or development of sound moral and spiritual values such as honesty, integrity, punctuality and piety.
With all the foregoing, understanding the basic and logical relationships between and among the components of a subject and even with other subjects is a prerequisite to learning. Without understanding, no learning takes place. In addition, learning is more effective if the learner is properly motivated. It is believe that intrinsic motivation is more desirable than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within the individual learner. He may have a desire to learn because of its worth. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual in the forms of rewards and punishment. The incorporation of need-drive-incentive principle is the greatest source of motivation and the desire to satisfy the need is the strongest motive to which the students will be motivated to learn and to continue learning.


Eggen , P.D. & Kauchak, D. P. (2006). Strategies for teachers: Teaching content and thinking skills. (5th edn). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Killen, R. (2007). Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. (4th edn). Melbourne, Victoria: Thomson.

Krause, L., Bochner, S. & Duchesne, S. (2003). Educational psychology for learning and teaching. Victoria: Thomson.

Ormerod, J. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Developing learners. (5th edn). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Slavin, R. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. (8th edn). Boston MA: Pearson Education.

Woolfolk, A. & Margetts, K. (2007). Educational psychology. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.



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