Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Social Learning Theory

Cooperative learning is just one of the many strategies that fall under the category of the social learning theory.  The social learning theory allows students to work in groups for a common goal.  According to Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology, cooperative learning is actively involving the student in their learning. It is a process for students to discover their own learning opposed to hearing a lecture from a teacher.  Students may create a project together or apply the jigsaw method.  The jigsaw method is where each student learns about a particular topic and then teaches or shares it with their group.    

Technology can be used in multiple ways with the social learning theory.  A class blog allows students the opportunity to write about something that is meaningful to them and have their classmates give feedback.  See my posts on Kidblog from January for more information. 

Skype is another tool that I use in my classroom.  My students have Skyped with two veteran marines and twice with classrooms around the country. This was a great opportunity for them to learn what it was like to be in the military.  We also learned what other schools and states are like.  My students may never have an opportunity to visit these states and this gives them an experience to learn about other children their own age.  My students worked together to create questions to find where in the United States another class was located. 

In addition to blogging and Skype, students can also create a Voice Thread.  Voice Thread is a tool that can be created individually or as a group.  What makes this a strategy for the social learning theory is that once posted, people can comment to the author or anyone else to watches it.  This is a great learning tool to gain additional knowledge on a topic. This is my first Voice Thread and it is on the Titanic.

In conclusion, there are many activities students can utilize while working together.  Technology definitely lends itself to the new era of online collaboration. Whether it is blogging, Skype, podcasts, or Voice Thread, students are gaining knowledge at a rapid speed by working together.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The constructionist learning theory is based on the idea that students learn best when they build something. Students investigate, create, and solve problems to further there learning. This can be anything from building a website to a drawing.  Dr. Orey states that the idea is for students to be engaged and active in the learning process. This week we studied problem-based learning, project based learning, and inquiry based approaches to learning.  These ideas all coincide with the constructionist learning theory because students are creating something. To further the learning process, using real-world applications will give students a sense of purpose that can they use the information they learn outside of school.  This week we were asked to compare generating and testing hypotheses to the constructionist/constructivist learning theories.

According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, there are six tasks that teachers can use to help students generate and test hypotheses.  These include system analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making. These six tasks all fit into the idea of students solving a problem and building something to show their results.  The book mentions having students make predictions about what would happen to an ecosystem if a species of animals was removed or numbers altered.  This is a real-world problem that some areas face when animals become endangered or even when there is an overpopulation of a species. Students could research areas that have been affected by this type of problem and work to come up with a solution to solve it.  Afterwards they could create a PowerPoint or some other project to display their findings and solution to the problem.
Another example given from the book is of a fifth grade teacher that told her students they inherited $10,000 from a relative.  She then had them chart in a spreadsheet how compounding interest and saving money can lead to larger earnings over time. Learning how to invest larger sums of money is something that students may encounter in life.  These types of skills will be beneficial in their lives as they get older.

In conclusion, it is important for students to confront real-world problems in the classroom. They will be more engaged if they have a set purpose to what they are doing.  In addition, students are actively involved when creating projects.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cognitive Learning Theory

This week’s resources focused on the cognitive learning theory.  This theory is centered on how brain collects and processes information.  According to Dr. Michael Orey, taking information from our short-term memory and moving it to our long-term memory requires elaboration and dual processing.  To elaborate means building numerous connections to what we already know.  Dual processing is using more than one of our senses to help us learn new information. The most helpful material I found this week was a table from the book Emerging Perceptives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology. This table showed the five roles of cognitive tools including information seeking, information presentation, knowledge organization, knowledge integration, and knowledge generation.  

Resources such as cues, questions, and advance organizers fall under the categories of the five roles of cognitive tools.  Tapping into a student’s prior knowledge is key to building connections to advance to long-term memory.  Cues and questions are often needed to help students trigger their prior knowledge. Teachers can help students elaborate on their prior knowledge by actively seeking information through various multimedia resources.  According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Work, research using visual aids and multimedia appeals to multiple learning styles.  Multimedia can also be used to help to develop a visual model to understand new information.
Organizing prior knowledge and new information can be a daunting task.  However, using an advance organizer will make it easier for students to visually see, recall, and retain the information.  Using graphic organizers helps students with the information presentation, knowledge organization, and knowledge integration. 

Other strategies that assist in processing information are summarizing and note taking. Summarizing and note taking are important skills for students in transferring their knowledge to long-term memory.  It is crucial that students move from simply copying a teacher’s notes or from a book. They must determine the most important details and learn to put information in their own words.  Summarizing and note taking help students to organize information, leading students to process the information.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Cognitive Learning Theories [DVD]. Bridging Learning Theory Instruction and Technology. Baltimore, MD: Author
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Behaviorist Theory

According to behaviorists the learner develops behaviors and skills in response to rewards and punishments.  In other words, by reinforcing desirable behaviors, the behavior will increase.  By punishing undesirable behaviors, the behavior will decrease.

In this week’s resources, we were asked how reinforcing effort correlates with the behaviorist theory.  One of the first steps in enforcing effort is to explicitly teach why effort is important.  Research tells us that not all students recognize the correlation between effort and achievement. However, students can change their beliefs and make the connection.  This follows the behaviorists’ theory that if you can learn a behavior you can unlearn it.  If you don’t believe effort and achievement go hand-in-hand, you can change your beliefs. 

The way to change a behavior or student effort is by showing the students the consequences of their actions.  When a student behaves well, they get praise or a reward. Some schools have tickets students receive or a bulletin board with their name on it. Students make the connection that their positive behavior equals a reward.  To reinforce effort, teachers must help students make the same connection. According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction, using a spreadsheet to chart effort is a great demonstration.  Students rate their effort in multiple categories and then record their grade.  Students will hopefully see that more effort equals better grades.

Poor grades frequently reflect a student not turning in homework. Homework is a hot debate in many schools.  Students that are up for retention are often students that just refuse to turn in work. Homework can be seen from a behaviorist standpoint. The “drill and practice” is often just repetition. 

In conclusion, the behaviorist learning theory is looked upon negatively these days. Many associate behaviorism with the “drill and practice” method.  Society is pushing for more real-world applications, cooperative learning, and critical thinking.  These do not seem to coincide with the behaviorist learning theory.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

New class

I am now in my fifth class of my masters program. One more year to go!  This class is on Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology.  Should be interesting!