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Cognitive, Behavioral And Humanistic Learning Development

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Throughout all of the videos, there were three major concepts that played a major role in the students learning, how they learned as well as the environment in which learning took place. With this in mind, behaviourist views on learning, cognitive explanations on learning and the humanistic approach to education and learning are the three pillars that make up a good foundation for students to learn at their full potential. These three concepts have underlying theories that contribute to learning for students in different environments.

Cognitive Explanation of Learning

A students growth into his/her schooling years relies greatly on cognitive, social, emotional and physical development during younger years and how the students learning is approached by the teacher and student. There are two major theories that play a role in cognitive development, Jean Piaget and Lev Semanovich Vygotsky. Cognitive development could be described as “the mental process involved in understanding and recalling information.” (Sue Duchesne, Anne McMaugh, 2019, pp.97) In reference to video one, cognitive development is evident through the self-regulated ad active learning of the students by raising the question of what they would like to learn through the term. Knowing what the students would like to learn will help build on their existing knowledge of, for example, that boats float. By giving the students a say in what they learn helps them to fully understand the new knowledge and build onto it as they grow and learn, cognitive development is demonstrated in video one by asking the students “what did you learn?” and “where did you find out how to spell Mia’s name?” Piaget draws on the concept of building knowledge through experience. The concept of learning this way is present in video two when the students are given the opportunity to carry out their own experiments in class with a partner, allowing each student to learn through their own experiment and the outcomes thereof. Constructivism is also greatly presented in video 2 by the presence of students making up their own hypotheses before doing the experiments to establish a connection between known materials in unknown environments. “Vygotsky’s theories have turned this focus upside down by emphasizing the role of the greater community and the role of significant others in learning.”(M Gail Jones & Laura Brader-Araje, 2005, pp. 4) For example, which form of sugar would dissolve faster and why? With this in mind, students build on the existing knowledge that sugar does dissolve into the water but raised the question of what impacts the rate at which the sugar dissolves. By asking the students to recall their information and where they got it from helps them learn from each other, therefore allowing the students to play an active role in their learning and development. Vygotsky argued that leaning could lead to development in education. “Vygotsky’s ideas about the way in which our social, cultural and historical background and experiences shape cognition…”(Duchesne & McMaugh, 2019, pp. 121) Reflecting on video 3, the zone of proximal development is evident when the students are able to write but not without a teachers helping hand of guidance, as seen in the video the student is asked to write out a sentence and does so independently but does not write to a certain, set standard and therefore requires the teachers assistance to improve is writing skills. Scaffolding is the idea of giving support to students to enable them to do a certain task successfully and more independently. “Learning through teacher.”(LeBlanc & Bearison, 2004, pp.513) Therefore, through the experience of constantly writing, he has introduced higher mental functions along with Bruner’s notion of scaffolding in order to re-learn how to write along with the new skill of being able to write neatly. In video three, there are also traces of information processing, specifically sensory memory, “sensory memory stores new information, which enters via the sensory register through the five senses…” (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2019, pp.135) Once again drawing on the writing aspect of this video, the boy has taken in the new information by listening to what is expected of him and seeing how it should be done. “Experiences that are difficult to articulate or might otherwise remain undiscovered can potentially be elicited through various visual techniques.”(Anna Harris & Marilys Guillemin, 2001, pp.9) This statement highlights that if a student struggles with something, it will be brought to the teachers attention through sensory indicators and this statement argues that many of the challenges that students face can be addressed through visual or verbal techniques, such as demonstrated in video three.

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Behavioural Views on Learning

Behaviourism has been identified as the effects on learning with external events, there are four theorists which saw behaviourism as something that was easily taught to students through stimuli, both conditioned and unconditioned. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward Thorndike. Classical conditioning is defined by the theorist Pavlov as the automatic response with a new stimulus, as seen in video 3, the students are to line up outside of class before being let in and then having to line up to be marked present at school that day. It cannot be ignored that “1,2,3 looking at me” accompanied by hand clapping could be seen as classical conditioning because it is an automatic response for the students to look where the new sound is coming from as well as gives the teacher an indication of who is listening. Operant thinking is also evident in video 3 with the presence of a teacher re-teaching a student how to write, this could be seen as operant thinking due to the fact that the student would always struggle with writing if the teacher had not decided to help him out. “Operant thinking is the use of positive or negative consequences to strengthen or weaken voluntary behaviour” (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2019, pp. 226) The law of trial and error, introduced by Thorndike plays a part in operant thinking by using rewards to get a certain result. Although the teacher does not use a specific reward to the student to achieve better handwriting, it was a personal goal of the student to achieve higher and better. It is portrayed in the video that the teacher sets out a guideline for the student to follow as well as adhering to a strict schedule of practice. The teacher draws on both the law of effect and the law of exercise to ensure constant and gradual improvement in the student and their goals. Drawing on video 3, the concept of reinforcement is carried through by the students who struggle with emotional baggage and who do not receive the support needed from their parents. As seen in the video there was a girl, Monique, who struggled to get enough sleep during the night and therefore resulted in her losing out on a morning of learning at school. However the teachers got monique to change her behaviour towards sleep and schooling could be argued as shaping and positive reinforcement by explaining the importance of sleep. For example, because you have had enough sleep, you are able to work to the best of your ability. Furthermore, the power of positive reinforcement and contingency is practiced when students produce work of a certain level to keep the students motivated and ensure that they feel appreciated.

Humanistic Views on Leaning

Video 3 draws on both behaviourism and humanistic views towards learning. With regard to humanistic views on learning, both Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers highlight the factors and impacts on education through experience and the needs of students. In video three, the students are from a demographically poor area that would impact their humanistic needs to a certain extent, the school provides the basic physiological need of food to ensure that the students are well fed and ready to learn and absorb new information. The students also idolize the school as a safe area and an area of acceptance. This is demonstrated through the acceptance of all students regardless of their abilities or barriers, in the video there is a younger student who previously struggled with his anger but soon learned how to control his emotions by washing his face. “when I get angry, I get very hot and I use the water to cool down.” It could be argued that a cognitive need and belongingness need was fulfilled in the hierarchy of human needs. In relation to John Dewey’s concept of progressive education, a child-centered approach is evident by checking-in on students and their emotional well being, as seen in video three with the emotional board which allows teachers to check-in and evaluate the well being of the student. Furthermore, by ensuring the students have their basic needs met and that the school is seen as a safe learning environment the students will benefit to a greater extent which is evident in the test ratings in that school. Throughout all of these videos cooperative learning is present through group learning as well as a teacher being present to monitor their progress as an individual and as a group.

Therefore, in conclusion, it cannot be ignored that throughout all of the videos there is a greater presence of behavioural views, humanistic views and cognitive views on learning. All of these concepts play a major role towards a child’s development and their further growth through school, by having set aims and goals for the students, it will enable the students to participate in their learning at their own pace once and if their basic needs are met. If schooling were to employ all three concepts at an optimum level, there would be an increase in student results, scoring of the school as a whole regardless of demographic area and willingness to learn from the students. Although learning is seen as a two way street from teacher to the student it cannot be ignored that there are undoubtedly other impacts and factors which would either hamper or assist in learning from other sides. Teachers learn as much from their students s what their students learn from them. (find a quote for that ) Having done some reflection on how I used to view teachers and the way things were being done in my schooling career. Being raised in a foreign country with at least 40 students in a class with one teacher and being placed in rows according to your surname, it became second nature for us, students, to do our own work and never ask questions out loud. It was always a given that if you didn’t understand what was done in class, come to extra lessons or find a tutor. Although I could not fault this system I can now say that there are other, greater ways of approaching large groups of students. For example, group learning by sitting in groups of 4 to 5 students to help the students reflect and justify each other. This being said, it will also raise to the self-confidence of certain students to no longer be afraid of asking questions as well as being able to form meaningful bonds with peers.


  1. LeBlanc, G. & Bearison, D.J (2004) Teaching and learning as a bi-directional activity

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