Education Theories essay




Question 1 –Suppose you and another teacher are discussing various ways to teachspelling and definitions to children in 5th grade. Compareand contrast the ways behaviorism and cognitive learning theory wouldtell you to approach this task. What are the similarities? What arethe differences?

Behaviorismrefers to the theory that emphasizes the impact of environmentalstimuli on observable behaviors (Shawe-Taylor &amp Singer, 2004). Itsupposes that a child’s behavior is governed by either negative orpositive reinforcement. In this respect, behavior is most likely tobe repeated when it is positively reinforced. Lack of continuousreinforcement causes the behavior to fade. On the other hand, thecognitive learning theory holds that behavioral changes are based onthe observation of other people (Shawe-Taylor &amp Singer, 2004).With regards to teaching 5th graders how to spell anddefine terms, behaviorism and cognitive learning theories could beused.

Both learningtheories have similar approaches to teaching. For example, bothbehaviorism and cognitive learning theories consider experience asthe ultimate cause of learning. Therefore, fifth graders can learnhow to spell and define objects courtesy of continued practice. Themore times such students spell and define terms, the more theyremember and learn. Both learning theories also emphasize the valueof using reinforcers and punishments (Shawe-Taylor &amp Singer,2004). Rewarding students who excel at spellings and definitionsmotivates them to work harder and grasp more information. Punishingmistakes made in spelling and definitions also discourages bad habitsand contributes to improvements as students endeavor to avoid futurepunishments.

Both behaviorismand cognitive learning theories emphasize the importance of feedbackin encouraging good academic performance (Shawe-Taylor &amp Singer,2004). Consistent and constructive feedback will help fifth gradersto excel at spelling and definitions. However, irregular and criticalfeedback will undermine the progress made in learning by encouragingdigressive habits. Fifth-grade students need to be commended andencouraged on a consistent basis so as to attain their fullpotential.

Nevertheless,behaviorism and cognitive learning theories have glaring differences.For example, behaviorism and cognitive learning theories have uniquedefinitions of learning. In this regard, behaviorism holds that thefifth-grade students learn spelling and definitions courtesy ofenvironmental stimuli. On the contrary, the cognitive learning theoryholds that the students learn due to observing other students.Furthermore, the cognitive learning theory holds that expectations,beliefs, and personal factors interact so as to enable thefifth-grade students to learn spelling and definitions. However,behaviorism holds that personal qualities of the students areexclusive to their beliefs and expectations.

An instructorendeavoring to teach fifth-grade students how to spell and defineterms would focus on changing observable behavior. The instructorwould try to use several factors to gauge the level of understandingof the students. For example, he may time the students to see theirspeed in spelling. He may also evaluate the percentage of studentswho get the correct answers to questions. Positive changes in eitherof these parameters would serve to show that the students grasp thematerial discussed in the classroom. On the other hand, an instructortaking the same class may focus on the change in the mental processesof the fifth-grade students. In this respect, he may use thereadiness of the students to participate in class activities as anindicator of their learning progress.

An instructorteaching fifth-grade students using the behaviorism theory wouldconcentrate his efforts on reinforcement. This is because behaviorismholds that learning is solely based on reinforcement (Shawe-Taylor &ampSinger, 2004). On the other hand, an instructor using the cognitivelearning theory will adopt a broad range of tactics so as to teachspelling and definitions. This is because the social cognitive theoryacknowledges the impact of other factors in the learning process.

Question 2b -Sam, a student in a biology class, sits at the back of the room anddoesn’t participate. He doesn’t make trouble, but he’s absent alot and when he’s there, he just isn’t involved in what’s goingon in class. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, explain somepossible causes of Sam’s behavior.

Maslow’sHierarchy of Needs ranks the motivational levels that inspire peopleto achieve progressive goals. Lower level basic needs have to be metbefore higher needs can be attained. The original hierarchy had fivelevels of need encompassing physical needs, safety, social, esteem,and self-actualization (Maslow, 1970). However, the current model hasincorporated cognitive and aesthetic needs before the ultimate levelof self-actualization (Maslow, 1970). In the given example, Sam ishabitually absent from class while at the same time has minimalparticipation in class activities. There could be severalexplanations for his behavior.

Maslow’sHierarchy of Needs considers the impact of behavioral responses tothe learning environment. The cognitive challenges faced by Sam couldbe explained by a consideration of his social, emotional, andphysical capabilities. The cognitive needs of a student occur at thefifth tier of Maslow’s hierarchy (Maslow, 1970). This shows thatany of the four lower factors could be frustrating Sam’s ability tonot only concentrate but also participate. For example, it ispossible that Sam’s physiological needs are not met in an adequatemanner. He could be getting inadequate sleep or food while at home.Fatigue and hunger render it impossible to focus on learning. Also,Sam could be experiencing little affection from family and friends.

Furthermore, Samcould be feeling insecure due to the lack of stability in family lifewhile at home. School-going children need to feel protected fromundesirable elements. Sam could be feeling as if he is neither valuednor accepted in the classroom. The class environment could beproviding little emotional and physical support. Sam could also bebattling with low self-esteem that prevents him from concentrating inclass and achieving his full potential.


Maslow, A. H.(1970). Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper &ampRow.

Shawe-Taylor, J.&amp Singer, Y. (2004). Learning theory. Berlin, Germany:Springer.