What is a Learning Theory?
"In short, learning theories are abstract frameworks that describe how knowledge is received and processed during the learning experience"
What is a Pedagogy?
"The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept."
Learning is the big picture...
I find it helpful to think of the learning theories, and pedagogical approaches as puzzle pieces each focusing on a different layer or aspect of the larger picture of learning often working simultaneously. Sometimes elements from one may be more prevalent than another, however, if we only observe from one perspective, we might miss something important.
Pedagogical Approaches are organized into two main categories; Learner-Centered and Instructor Centered:
"Student-centered mindsets view the learner as primary and unique agents of learning, engagement, and connection, as opposed to teacher-centered mindsets which tend to view learners as passive and uniform vessels."
Let's Compare the Instructional Design of These Two Categories
Instructional Design Elements
*Not an exhaustive list...
Learning occurs as a result of the production of expected observable behavior (outputs) through repetitive exposure to external stimuli and responses (inputs).
Key Contributors: Skinner, Pavlov,
Learning occurs as a result of students actively participating in the construction of their own knowledge and building off of existing knowledge and experiences.
Key Contributors: Vygotsky, Piaget, Brunner, Dewey
Learning is a change in mental representations and associations through experience. Cognitive processes matter as much, if not more than observable behavior.
Key Contributors: Piaget, Shell, Winna
A framework of adult learning, in which it is recognized that the student possesses extensive knowledge and is seeking information immediately applicable or relevant to their situation.
Key Contributors: Knowles
Learning is best facilitated when the physical, emotional, mental, and social needs of the individual are fulfilled.
Key Contributors: Maslow
There is a pedagogical evolution occurring in the training industry. Where we go next is up to us...
The animal training industry is decades behind human education as these learning theories have not only existed for a long time, but are at the forefront of teaching in other realms. Even R+ / force-free training strategies tend to be overwhelmingly teacher-centered. How can we adapt our instructional design to be more learner-centered? Although this information is not new, adapting our strategies in the animal training industry to catch up is, and I believe that using human education as a model can help to propel the animal training industry into the future.
What do you think?
Reid, A. J. (n.d.). Learning theory overview. Instructional Design Central. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/learning-theory
Teacher-centered vs. student-centered course design. Stanford Teaching Commons. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu/teaching-guides/foundations-course-design/theory-practice/teacher-centered-vs-student-centered