Section 1 – Understanding Learning and Assessment
It is important to make aware there are many different theories regarding the understanding of how individuals learn and develop. As we start to identify we begin to comprehend and realise that everyone does not learn the same way as the next person. The learning theories that are to be taken into account are as follows: Behaviourism, Cognitivists, Humanists, Social Learning, Adult Learning and Motivation. From this we further investigate and try to understand the different theorist’s point of view and how their theories affect each individuals learning, in order to assist a teacher when preparing the lessons. Behaviourist Theory
In the 19th B. F. Skinner he believed that the results he discovered with rats in his ‘Skinner Box’ would be transferable to humans, that is our behaviour responds to a stimuli, whether praise or disapproval. Reinforcement
Receiving stimuli from our environment can incite a response; Skinner believed that this can be directed by choosing the stimuli to reinforce positive responses, but discouraging the negative responses. The way in which this can be brought about in the classroom situation could be something as little as ‘well done’, or tasks once completed will be rewarded with a certificate. Continuous Reinforcement
To continually reinforce the positive behaviour in a classroom environment, it would be pleasing to the individuals to receive some form of continuous reward. For example, a point system reward, or star awards for good behaviour. The points could be totalled to see which individual or group received the most points at the end of term or year, which could then be backed up with a trophy or certificate of achievement. The work of Ivan Pavlov, considered conditioned learning theory. His findings were with experiments on dogs. He discovered if you repeatedly learned a process over time you would condition yourself into remembering the process months later.
Learners are learning constantly through formative and observation assessment from many giving tasks, where repeated learning is a vital learning source. For example, as a teacher of gymnastics learning a basic stretch jump is achieved through breaking down the complete jump into smaller attributes then repeating them and then putting them altogether to produce a perfect stretch jump. This form of learning is learning over a gradual period of time, to eventually perform the perfect stretch jump being rewarded with a certificate of acknowledgement of this skill, that being the behaviourist’s theory. Cognitivists Theory
Cognitive is to do with thinking and that thinking is central to the learning process. That is, learning is a process internal to the individual rather than an automatic response to an external event. Cognitive theorists are more concerned with what goes on inside our heads as we learn. In the teaching environment this has important implications for the organisation and planning of lessons. These should provide learning opportunities which will develop the learners understanding and permit them to discover the relationships between ideas and concepts, making it a more valid way to be assessed rather than, for example, simply learning to recite the bare facts about them, making this a more unreliable source of assessment.
Dewey (1859-1952) is most associated with the idea of ‘discovery learning’ and the so called progressive methods of classroom practice, he believed in a learner centred approach, where the curriculum is designed to meet the needs of the learner. This approach became very unpopular in the 80’s, Teaching sport to adults and children this theory has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantages being, when a task is set to be completed with very little instructions, the learners are needed to think on their feet and use their own knowledge and ideas to come up with a great game plan. The downside can be the learners may feel intimidated or the stronger ones of the group may start to take over, becoming more of a solitary way of learning in the sporting environment. Humanists Theory
Carl Rogers believes that all individual beings have a natural tendency to learn (1980)
The role of the teacher is to facilitate such learning consisting of:
1 Preparing a positive atmosphere for learning
2 Clarifying the purposes of the learner(s)
3 Put in order creating available learning materials
4 Balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning
5 To share feelings and thoughts with learners but not to control.
According to Rogers, learning is facilitated only when the learner wants and decides the direction of study; he also emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change. In other words his main beliefs are as follows: 1. Considerable learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the learner. 2 Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily understood when external intimidation are at a low 3. Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low 4. Self initiate learning is the most lasting and pervasive. Social Learning Theory
A number of theorists believe in the social learning theory but with different emphasis. Taking a look at Jarvis (1987), he believes we learn alongside individuals and from people, especially in Education. As learners we are learning from teachers, learners and among learners themselves, social relations may reduce or encourage effective learning. That is that social interaction is a key role to learning. However A. Bandura (1977) follows on from Jarvis but more on the side of the behaviourist’s theory not as a stimulus response but as a social interaction theory that individual and environment influences are mutually supporting. In a classroom setting it is more evident, that this is very true. As a teacher of sport you teach the subject matter, and the learner reacts at how it has been taught or demonstrated. The influences and reactions of other learners as well as, from past or present experiences the learner has had outside the classroom can impede or encourage their learning they bring to the forefront of their learning style. Adult Learning Theory – Andragogical Approach
Malcolm Knowles 1989 suggests that adult education is more of an informal approach to teaching, bringing experience and enthusiasm to the classroom. He goes onto say that we all learn from groups of people in everyday life. He defines it as the art of science of helping adults learn (1990). Knowles give emphasis that adults are self~directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. In practical terms, andragogy mean teaching for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, mock~up, and self~evaluation are most useful. Teachers and coaches therefore adopt a role of a facilitator. Observation of the different contributions into the session would be used along with the question and answering as a group discussion, rather than directed to the teacher. Motivation Theory
Abraham Maslow was more concerned by the needs of the individual. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the teacher must try and present a lesson for the whole learner. Consideration must be taken into account of the vocational and emotional interests of the learner where the teacher can help them reach their full potential, to reach self actualisation. If there basic needs weren’t met they would lose interest or motivation in the sessions, by not engaging. However if there are awards or certificates to complete their motivation would be to achieve and better themselves to progress to different levels. If all is going well emotionally and psychologically, Maslow believed everyone will do really well throughout there educated life, aiming for higher merits. Observing the learner to determine if they are enjoying their learning would be a key assessment tool. Maslow believed fun was essential to learning, as it gives a sense of belonging. This form of assessment would be widely used in the coaching environment.