Learning Theories the Educational Field essay

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It documented the preceding era's educational beliefs and styles in the field of mathematics and the results from implementing those beliefs on a wide scale.

The study sought to organize three themes including; "broad sociopolitical forces, particularly highly publicized educational policy statements; trends in mathematics research and theories of learning and instruction" (Mathematics, 2004, pg. 16). These themes, in particular, were focused on the effect (or lack thereof) they had on the field of mathematics. What the review seemed to find was that there were a number of areas of improvement that could take place in the field. One such area was that "too much instruction, particularly under the influence of behaviorism, had come to mean that students simply memorized what the teacher directed them to learn" (Mathematics, pg. 17).

Since the course allowed us to discover the differences in learning styles and theories it is interesting that one of those theories (behaviorism) was being denigrated in this article. Noting the shortfalls of behaviorism is just one of the aspects of the review that catches the reader's eye.

What the study seemed to find in regards to learning theories is that most students are not going to learn to their greatest capabilities by simply learning to repeat mechanical associations. The study showed improvements in teaching when instructors "adopted the position that for slow learners, one needs to carefully target instructional objects, because the amount of material to be mastered over time will be less than that for more capable students" (Mathematics, pg. 20).

What the study seemed most concerned about, however, was that scientifically-based research be used in a more appropriate manner in order to make educational policies and decisions more effective. One interesting tidbit was the study's assertion that "constructivism offers no one, simple perspective on teaching" (Mathematics, pg. 22) and it further stated "(math) literature contains examples of highly individual constructivism, social constructivism and even emancipatory constructivism" (Mathematics, pg. 22).

As the above research seems to verify, it is easy to find a number of studies and an abundance of literature that lends credence to the thought(s) that teaching is a highly individualized endeavor, and that new and old teachers will all have their own styles of teaching that will be influenced by the 'theories of the day."

Spada

Finally there was the recent study conducted in Canada to discern some of the "epistemological, technical, and ethical challenges in doing research on instructed second language (L2) learning in Canadian school settings" (Spada, 2005, pg 328). Spada set out to see if any of the classroom research methods used in Canadian school "have been influenced by cognitive-interactionist theories of learning" (Spada, pg. 328).

This study was of interest because it could show how different learning theories can influence the way research is carried out, and the conclusions of such research. What is interesting about this theory is that if there is influence in the classrooms by the theories themselves, would that not also mean that the theories are biased in the first place? It is an interesting conundrum.

Spada states in her study that "one of the challenges for the L2 classroom researcher is to carry out a program of research that includes a component relevant to teachers, students, and other members of the school community. Equally important is to do so in a manner that maintains scientific relevance and rigor" (Spada, pg. 329). If what she states is true, then it is of importance to the teacher in the classroom to understand the influences being brought to bear through different learning and teaching styles that are being presented. Spada, like many researchers, questions the structure of the cognitive-interactionist theory. She does so especially in regards to implementing the various steps recognized as important in regards to learning.

The study shows that "whereas a growing number of laboratory studies have shown that learners benefit from recasts, several classroom studies have shown that learners often seem to be unaffected by such feedback" (Spada, pg. 329).

It seems that the articles discussed in this paper, although written at different times, by different researchers and in different geographical areas all seem to imply that teachers are besot with many different theories and arguments of persuasion to teach using one style or another, but that truly it is the individual teacher that will make the greatest difference in the classroom, and that by integrating components from the wide variety of theories available for discourse, the teacher might best accomplish his or her educational goals in the classroom.

References

Becker, K.; (2007) Digital game-based learning once removed: Teaching teachers, British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 478-488

Espin, C.A.; Cevasco, J.; van den Broek, P.; Baker, S.; Gersten, R.; (2007) History as narrative: The nature and quality of historical understanding for students with LD, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 174-82

Mathematics education in the United States: Past to present (2004) Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 16-31

Spada, N.; (2005) Conditions and challenges in developing school-based SLA research programs, the…[continue]

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