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Learning Theories

Sociocultural

Major Characteristics: Cognition is primarily developed through social interaction, culture and environment strongly influence learning-not stages, language is a primary tool for learning, focus on formal education for maximum cognnitive growth, cognitive development is limited to zone of proximal development (ZPD) (University of Manchester, 2023). The Role of Memory: Executive functioning-inlcuding working memory- is a fundamental cognitive function that is utilized to organize and re-organize situational information. How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through social interaction and can vary across cultures (different experiences, environments, etc.) (Loveless, 2023). In a formal learning environment, "the child, under an educator's guidance, has opportunities to receive and perfect psychological tools that assisted in organizing and re-organizing menal functions" (Ornstein & Hunkin, 2016, p. 110). For example, providing opportunities in the learning environment for dramatic play, imitation games, or learning language through conversational roles are all examples of sociocultural activities that promote learning.

Major Theorist: Lev Vygotsky

Learning Types: Associative learning- encoding, retrieving, storing, and responding to information from the environment- most applies to the sociocultural learning thoery because this theory suggests that learning occurs based on interactions with others and the environment (Gould, 2023).

Lev Vygotsky began theorizing about cognitive development in the early 20th century. He advocated that children's learning occurs through interaction, dialogue, and play within a culture (Ornstein & Hunkin, 2016). He believed language was a tool to organize thinking.

Adult Learning Theory

AKA Andragogy

Major Characteristics: 5 main assumptions: self-concept, adult learner experience, readiness to learn, orientation of learning, and motivation to learn. 4 main principles: 1. Adults should be involved in how they learn. 2. More knowledge is gained when connections to prior knowledge/experiences are made. 3. Problem-solving applications foster more learning than memorization. 4. Relevance of information is necessary for it to be transferred and used promptly (O'Neill, 2023). The Role of Memory: Working or short-term memory is most effective because active and immediate problem solving fosters the most learning. Memorization and sorting into long-term memory with no transfer or application of knowledge fails to build meaningful connections that promote higher understanding. How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through doing- active problem-solving scenarios help learners to build knowledge and the incorporation of real-world examples allows learners to make connections so that learning can then be applied across a variety of scenarios. Training must be approached as showing the learner the step-by-step procedures, the how they would use the tool or method, and why they should do it that way (O'Neill, 2023). Experimentation will significantly increase cognitive growth.

Major Theorist: Malcolm Knowles

Learning Types: Procedural learning occurs most frequently in the Adult Learning Theory because adults are explicitly trained on the procedures of the required skill so that they can generalize it to complete specific tasks (Gould, 2023).

In 1968 Malcolm Knowles developed the Adult Learning Theory incorporating his beliefs on the fundamentals of how adults perceive learning. The theory consists of 5 main assumptions and is considered most frequently for adult trainings.

Connectivism

AKA Andragogy

Major Characteristics: Use of technology not only as a learning tool to seek information but to also stay connected socially in order to share, collaborate, and extend ideas. Learning occurs outside of an individual and through many different networks, perspectives, and platforms. Knowledge is diverse. Learning is a process of connecting, and connection of ideas, concepts, fields, etc. is the key to higher level knowledge. (WGU, 2021). The Role of Memory: Working memory is the most notable in Connectivism, as it is used to engage in the learning process in real time, problem solving or seeking information in the present moment, and relaying or organizing that information immediately. The memory retrieved is stored, utilizing long-term memory to house the organized information. How Learning Occurs: In Connectivism, the learning process is more critical than the acquired knowledge. Learning occurs through seeking new information with the use of technology (online sources, platforms, etc.) and also connecting socially through technology (platforms, networks, blogs, etc.) in order to expand knowledge, share perspectives, collaborate, and acquire diverse understanding. (WGU, 2021).

Major Theorist: George Siemens & Stephen Downes

Learning Types: Because Connectivism promotes the learner to be self-guided and seek out information independently, the most appropriate learning type would be metacognition. Metacognition requires the learner to "develop a plan and allocate resources for enacting the plan" (Gould, 2023), which is encouraged through the use of technology when seeking out information and then organizing that information to apply it or to serve a purpose.

In 2004 and 2005, Siemens and Downes published articles reflecting on the importance of the use of technology in education as a tool for collaboration. Siemens focuses on social implications, while Downes focuses on technology-based learning.