Five Theories of Academic Learning

Educational Theories
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Theories of learning in education

You will learn about learning theories while studying to become a teacher, whether in a bachelor’s or alternative certificate program. There are 5 central paradigms of theories of educational learning; behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, humanism, and the Connectivism.


Behaviorism is a view in which external factors can explain behavior, and behavioral conditioning can be used as a universal learning process. The principles of positive and negative reinforcement in behaviorism are effective tools for understanding and altering behavior, as well as a method of punishment and reward.


Cognitivism is a philosophy of learning founded by Jean Piaget in which a child develops cognitive mechanisms of comprehension and physical reaction to experiences. In this theory, students learn most effectively by reading text and delivering lectures.


Constructivism is the idea that people are responsible for creating their own understanding of the world and using what they learn in the process of relating new information to those experiences based on past experiences. These interactions and new information are used by people to construct their own definition.


Humanism focuses on the topic of the individual and asserts that learning is a natural process that helps a person achieve self-actualization. Scenarios and role modeling, including interactions, discovery, and study of others, are important factors in humanistic learning.


Connectivism is a relatively new philosophy of learning, created and based on the idea that people are processing knowledge by forming connections. With the help of the internet and technology, this idea has grown, leading to developments in these domains. The new theory suggests that after formal education people no longer stop learning and continue to gain information from other sources such as job skills with new tools in technology, networking, knowledge, and access to information.

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