Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Learning Theories and Cognitivism

Bill Kerr, Stephen Downes, and Karl Kapp touched on some interesting aspects of both cognition and behavior being intermingled with each other to produce a specif outcome that is manifested overtly in others. Visit the following links for more insight.  After visiting the blogs below, please read my response  to their suggestions and opinions on the topic.

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought [Web log post]. Retrieved from

My Response:
I do agree that in education there are always isms that fight for attention and validity in learning.  Finding a place for them can be difficult in and of themselves.  There are many times that it seems everything in education is a stimulus response situations.  Therefore, behaviorism is often used to produce the desired outcome in our students.  We teach to the test and we hope to see regurgitated what we have taught to produce the passage of state tests as the outcome. However, do we actually think about how the student internalized the learning in order to achieve the goal of state test passage?  This is the area, such a gray area, that cognitivist venture into and have ventured into with no concrete basis for substantiating the theory that can be systematically followed by anyone (Kerr, 2007).  Kapp reiterates what Kerr says by agreeing that both theories (behaviorism and cognitivism) work hand in hand to produce outcomes (Kerr, 2007) (Kapp, 2007). 

I believe that none of this is new.  It is just that someone has started to think and wanted to create a theoretic reason for the processes of learning.  We have always talked and connected learning with anothers ideas and concepts long before computers, the Internet, blogging, wikis, texting, Skype, Adobe Connect, and any other collaborative technology.  Was connectivism present?  Yes, but in a different form.  Now, we link connectivism to technology.  There will always be isms, but can we find concrete ways to create a science of teaching rather than these theories that lend no basic protocol for use in instruction, but only provide some direction that we have to construct an end to?  Questions, questions, questions...I am left with more of them than answers.  At least, it provokes inquiry.


  1. Roxanne,
    You make a valid point about many theories putting in words what was already happening. So cognitivism is not a new breakthrough idea but an ism that simply identifies learning as a process which is not new. Do you think that we get bogged down in theories of the obvious? Maybe we just need to focus on how to better reach our students whether it is founded in theory or not.

  2. Roxanne,

    You hit the nail on the head. There will always be theories, but why does the education system still gear their programs towards the behaviorism? We as teachers know that we teach toward the test. We know there are many different ways to teach, but to get the desired outcomes the government wants we have to teach towards the test. Do you think we as a society will every change? Do you feel one learning theory is more important than another?

  3. Roxanne,
    As you pointed out there are so many different _isms. Do you think that it's possible to create a "science of teaching" by combining them as Kerr and Kapp suggested or do you think we need to redirect our attention onto something new and different?

  4. Roxanne, sorry for the late response. From your post, it sounded like you were a little skeptical of the value of learning theories, preferring to rely on common sense and pragmatism. Is that accurate? If so, do you foresee an issue with quality control and consistency in practice? In other words, without a theoretical foundation, do we lose the ability to ensure that our methods are reliable and consistent?

    Randall Case