Blogosphere: Cognitivism and Behaviorism

Wk3 Discussion: Cognitivism and Behaviorism

Though novice in blogging, I ascertain that blogs become an effective means of disseminate information through public debates or conversations; thus “the blogosphere today is replete with conversations and debates related to learning theory”(Lucia, 2010). Bill Kerr’s, Stephen Downes’, and Karl Kapp’ s blogs provide two examples of fascinating discussions on cognitivism and behaviorism.

While Cognitivism is the study of the brain and the information processing, Behaviorism comprises the position that all theories should have observational correlates but that there are no philosophical differences between publicly observable processes such as actions and privately observable processes such as thinking and feeling. Gagné, tied to B. F. Skinner’s idea of sequenced learning events due to his development of the “Events of Instruction,” proposed a nine-step process related to the learning process:  Gain attention, inform learner of objectives, stimulate recall of prior learning, present stimulus material, provide learner guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess performance, and enhance retention and transfer.  The Events of Instruction led to various learning outcomes and supported the internal processes of learning (Wikipedia, 2010):

It may be true that “Learning theories, like politics, is full of _isms:  Constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism, and connectivism”, but these _isms under the Learning theories do not contradict each other but there is a noticeable continuity or overlapping, unlike in politics where there is a constant fight among the adherents.  These learning theories, indeed, help shape the way we learn and cope with the changes we encounter.  They consist of the basis of “curriculum reform”, as through research, knowledge, and wisdom, philosophers and educators chose the best ideas.  The thinker posits: “We need to take pieces from each school of thought and apply it effectively because…Cognitivism doesn’t explain 100% how humans process information and neither does Constructivism or Behaviorism. What we need to is take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners” (Kapp, 2007).  In any cases, behaviorism and cognitivism will always consist of the fundamentals of learning theories.  Learning theories evolve and act as “filters not as blinkers” (Kerr, 2007) and they are practical in use depending on individuals and situation.

I disagree with Kapp when he says:  “We have now find ourselves shifting to a Cognitive form of teaching over that of behaviorism as we become more concern with the internal mental processes of the mind and how they could be used in encouraging effective learning” (Kapp, 2007); because, by definition, behaviorism displays itself in any learning situation; even in cognition dealing with mental processing depicts a response to stimuli, since process has to be displayed and measured.

Last week, we learned about information processing and realized that there exist relationships between the physical object and the mental life of the information processor.  It is evident that individual neurons possess language, and that the basic unit for communication consists of two neurons and their entire field of interacting:  dendritic and synaptic connections.  While information processing in the brain is highly complex, each neuron uses a simple mechanism for transmitting information.  I may not be able to measure the behavior of the neurons with my naked eyes, but I may be able to see the effects of the response they produce.   In the blogosphere, conversation will have sense within the context and situation surrounding it; in essence, cognition cannot be separated from the context.  Instead knowing exists, inseparable from context, activity, people, culture, and language. Therefore, learning is seen in terms of an individual’s increasingly effective performance across situations rather than in terms of an accumulation of knowledge, since what is known is co-determined by the agent and the context.  Thus situated learning consists of “the notion of learning knowledge and skills in contexts that reflect the way they will be used in real life” (Collins, 1988).  Thus, situated cognition theory encourages educators to immerse learners in an environment that approximates as closely as possible context in which their new ideas and behaviors will be applied (Schell & Black, 1997).  Whether it is human information processing or machine, computer, or robotic processing there is always behaviorism and cognitivism.


Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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