A Critical Analysis of Learning Theories and Their Practical Applications

A Critical Analysis of Learning Theories and Their Practical Applications.
This essay intends to look at the main learning theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Humanistic; and consider their effect on teaching practice. I will consider how I have practically implemented these theories on one of my classes and the resultant effects.
My class is quite a homogeneous group with a couple of exceptions. They are all male; seventy percent are between the ages of sixteen to eighteen, the remainder being over twenty. One student has an HNC in stage lighting, whilst another is undertaking an ESOL course. The rest have no particular problems or academic advantage. They are studying a level one course in electrical installation.
In the 1920s Pavlov discovered the principle of classical conditioning. The essence of the theory is that when an unrelated stimulus is paired with a stimulus which produces a natural reaction; the unrelated stimulus will cause the same reaction as the natural stimulus, when paired with it (Gross 2005). This theory has many practical applications including; identification of objects during infancy and creation of phobic reactions. However, there is very little need for it during my lessons, with the possible exception of identification of new materials and objects.
The most useful part of behaviourism is Operant conditioning. Classical conditioning does not change behaviour; it enables different stimuli to elicit previous behaviours. Operant conditioning allows us to change behaviour through the process of rewards. A response due to operant conditioning is “essentially voluntary” and the “likelihood of a particular operant response being emitted is a function of the past consequences of such behaviour” (Gross 2005, pg 180). Watson argued that there is no point in trying to understand the internal workings of the mind as they were not observable. What we can observe and measure is behaviour. If behaviour changes; learning must have taken place....