Theories abound in the field of psychology and most concern the nature of learning. The three most well known and useful of these are Behaviorism, Cognativism, and Constructivism. They all are useful in education, in the technological aspects of education and all happened and are happening in our lifetimes.
(1)Behaviorism came first. During the 1950s and 1960s it first came on the scene and is with us today, even though newer theories have taken precedence. In the early studies animal experiments were common and not much was said about the inner workings of the mind. Those preaching behaviorism watched and observed how animals and humans adapted to their environment.
A famous experiment by Ivan Pavlov, that of ringing a bell and a conditioned dog would salivate. This was used to show how conditioned behavior can supersede or force out an unwanted habit. In other words, some response brings pleasant memories, as the bell ringing did for the dog.
Another practitioner of behaviorism, B.F. Skinner, who followed and furthered the ideas of Pavlov. He too is famous for his experiment with the Skinner Box and pigeons. The argument against this theory is that it uses passive principles, as opposed to active ones.
(2)Cognativism is fully interested in the inner workings of the mind of people. Learning and knowledge took over as opposed to behaviorism and its scientists believed that “mental construction [took place] in the minds of individuals” and not from some outside endeavor.
Learning takes place when what one sees and hears is stored away in mental filing cabinets and retrieved later by various means: association, likenesses, similarity, and anything else that causes an aha! response. Cognitive reasoning is an active means of a person being the guide to acquisition of his own storehouse of knowledge. He does this by the use of his own abilities and effort.
(3)Constructivism differs from behavior and cognitive reasoning in the forms it uses. It builds on the cognitive means of learning by showing how it works. It builds upon itself. It is kind of like a clean slate theory and then as experiences and interaction with the environment of the new baby begins to make sense these are stored. Then when similar experiences manifest themselves he begins to put 2 and 2 together and then later on he will see them as 4.
Clearly this is different from knowledge as “absolute and given”. The aim of Constructivism is to build solidly, varying as to time and space, and everything must be considered. Nothing is trivial. From the most inane and useless bit of knowledge comes some useful purpose-if only as a bit of glue to hold to similar objects together. Like ideas, as an example. Learning, say constructivist’s is “relativistic”.
What methods are employed today? “Cognitive oriented constructivist theories” and “socially oriented constructivist theories” My interpretation: each learns uniquely and explains their world as only they can, while being guided by outside influences which is either used or discarded as non-essential to them.