There are a variety of learning theories that explain how people learn. Understanding these theories can help you better communicate with your students and make informed teaching decisions.
One theory that can be particularly useful is Social Learning Theory. It explains how people learn through observation and imitation of other people’s behavior.
Conceptualization is the process of defining or specifying what we mean when using certain terms. It involves agreeing on precise verbal definitions.
Some concepts have multiple elements or dimensions that can be hard to define. For example, if a research question claims that compassion is positively related to empathy, it might be hard to define exactly what this means without conceptualizing compassion as something distinct from empathy.
This imprecision is often what makes it difficult to empirically measure some abstract concepts. Therefore, it is important to clearly define these concepts so that they can be measured accurately.
Learners are also affected by the way they are taught, which can influence their learning processes. For example, learning theories such as social learning theory, which was developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, suggest that learning is influenced by behavioral techniques such as reinforcements and associations.
Constructivism is a learning theory that encourages students to actively build knowledge instead of passively receiving information. It takes into account that each learner brings their own experiences and previous knowledge to the classroom.
This theory can be applied in the classroom to create a unique learning environment for your students. It involves a teacher acting more as a facilitator than an instructor.
The constructivist approach to education focuses on the individual student and their cognitive strategies, experience and culture. It also incorporates concepts like inquiry, real world application and collaboration.
Metacognition is the ability to be aware of one’s own learning processes and to control them. This includes the ability to plan how to approach a learning task, use appropriate skills and strategies, monitor one’s own comprehension of text, self-assess and self-correct in response to the self-assessment, evaluate progress toward the completion of a task, and become aware of distracting stimuli.
It also involves the ability to maintain motivation to see a task through. Developing metacognitive skills can help students develop the ability to be resilient and manage challenging situations.
Metacognitive abilities can be developed through practice and by encouraging students to become more conscious of their own learning processes. Students who demonstrate a range of metacognitive abilities perform better on exams and complete work more efficiently. They also modify their learning strategies as needed, identifying blocks to learning and changing tools or strategies to ensure goal attainment.
Feedback is a form of communication that allows people to give and receive information about how they feel, what they think or what they have experienced. It is an important part of building and maintaining communication and can help individuals, groups, companies, and organizations develop and improve their performance.
Feedback can take many forms, ranging from informal, formative to formal feedback at the end of a learning unit. Each has its place in enhancing and maximising student learning, therefore course designs should incorporate opportunities for a range of feedback types.
To ensure that learners receive accurate and useful feedback, it is essential to make the desired outcome clear from the outset (either in terms of goals or assessment objectives) and to deliver real-time feedback when learners make mistakes or choose an answer option that falls short of the goal. This helps learners pause, engage and modify their behaviour as they are in the flow of learning.