Learning approach

Initial thoughts about how I would address different learning approaches had me dissecting various pieces to build a hybrid model.  Then I started to consider what my personal learning theory really was, and how I got to this point.

Personal Learning Theory

Origins of my personal learning theory stem from academic work and work experience, which incorporate more of a cognitivist point of view.  Every instructional design student has heard, read and thought about Gagne’s nine levels of learning at some point. It is a common practice for instructional designers to build learning objectives based on Bloom’s taxonomy.  We all have the verbs, organized into the cognitive domains of learning, saved on our computers.  A proper grouping of learning objectives must cover the range of Bloom’s cognitive domains.

Cognitivist’s believe the learning happens in how the brain processes information. External stimuli are received in the working memory.  This stimuli have approximately 6-9 seconds to attach to existing information.  This process will build on previous information and be stored for retrieval later.  Bits of new information may transfer to long term memory; the rest of the information is purged. 

The core of my research is based on a belief that the manner in which we receive information can influence how we process it.  Can content be delivered in a way that is easier for the working memory to process and offer a higher likelihood of transfer?  Can the presentation of content improve how we transform information into knowledge and disseminate that knowledge to new settings?

Applying different theoretical models

This brings me back to the question; if I had to use an incompatible research method how would I approach it?  The approach would depend on the type of content and audience.

Behaviorist’s see learning more as a teacher-centered, passive event. A teacher-controlled learning experience is more difficult to personalize and apply to new settings. Perhaps this theory can be applied in new job skill training, where it only takes a quick demonstration.  Then the learner would begin using those skills regularly and develop an expertise on their own.

Constructivist’s believe new ideas are derived from past experiences. This student-centered approach offers a way for learners to challenge information and find new applications.  It is appropriate for veteran learners; however, a novice does not have the experiences to draw from.

In trying to consider other approaches I tend to wonder what activity is taking place in the brain.  Is the working memory overwhelmed or underwhelmed with these approaches? 

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