Practice Teaching

A critical account of how you have applied the principles of adult learning theory to enable another`s learning

This essay firstly provides an overview of learning theories and adult learning styles. It then considers the effect of these on a particular learning situation: the 1 to1 supervision of an adult BA Hons social work student at the start of her first 100 day placement by her practice assessor ( myself). This example is then critically appraised and my own future learning needs as a practice assessor are   discussed.

Learning theories abound. I will consider those I feel most relevant to adult learning.

Behaviourist approaches are personified by B. F. Skinners[i]   work on reinforcement theory. The basic premise, which can be demonstrated empirically, is that learning can be measured by a change in behaviour of the student. To influence behaviour change, positive reinforcement ( eg   encouragement, promotion at work ) is a   more powerful factor than negative reinforcement   ( eg punishment, withholding of benefits at work).   The student is more or less a passive recipient of the “ learning” dispensed by the teacher. The teacher is responsible for   all aspects of the learning; it`s content, process, outcomes and consequences.

Holistic learning theory   (Maslow,1943),   Cognitive- Gestalt theory (Bode, 1929) and Sensory stimulation theory (Laird, D. 1985) all concentrate on different aspects of the internal existence of the student. This ranges from considering the importance of the imagination, experience and intellect of the student through to the more objective analysis of how the different senses are more or less responsive to learning.It is held that up to 75% of our learning is achieved through seeing.[ii]

As a counterpoint to these theories, the humanist approach ( Carl Rogers, 1964),   paves the way for ideas such as Experiential learning (Kolb), Action Learning (Revans) and Adulthood as a   special case for learning ( Andragogy) (Knowles)....