Reflection

My expectations for this course were two-fold; (1) to deepen my understanding of learning theories, and, (2) to further develop my skills in technology for use in the field of instructional design.  The Learning Theories and Instruction course exceeded my expectations in several ways, including deepening my understanding of learning theories in general, my own personal learning process specifically, honing my critical thinking skills regarding discriminating ideologies of primary learning theories, differentiating learning theories from learning styles, authentic utilization of educational technology in the quest for scholarly information and resources, and, the importance of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, including defining characteristics of each.

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First, I was surprised that learning theory has expanded greatly since my graduation in 1995.  Without scientific evidence to the contrary, I would have thought learning theories would have reached a unified consensus within the last 15 years; however, it would seem just the opposite has occurred.  In fact, a great deal of the literature regarding learning theory attests to that there is not a single learning is able to satisfactorily explain each and every variation of learning (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007; Ormrod, 2008).  This course specifically emphasized Behaviorist Learning Theories, Social Learning (Social Cognitive) Theories, Cognitive Learning Theories, Constructive Learning Theories, Connectivist Learning Theory and Adult Learning Theories, although, arguably, with the exception of Behaviorist Learning Theory, the remaining theories are typically considered within the cognitive realm with individual idiosyncrasies particular to each (Ormrod, 2008).  In fact, “the goal for the behaviorist is to elicit the desired response from the learner who is presented with a target stimulus” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 54) in stark contrast to cognitive theories which “emphasize making knowledge meaningful and helping learners organize and relate new information to existing knowledge in memory” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 57).  There is even additional controversy over whether or not certain learning theories “qualify” as learning theories, such as Connectivism, which does not actually address “how” learning occurs, but rather an establishes environmental network of learning through which learning can germinate and flourish (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).

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Second, my critical thinking and discrimination skills have been improved through successful negotiation of multiple informative discussions, authentic technology assignments such as creating a blog https://lynnmunoz.wordpress.com/, utilizing web mapping software such as Webspiration, and an RSS Feeder (Google Reader), and comprehensive course research into the world of learning theory (how learning occurs), learning styles (preferred method of receiving information), effects of motivation (intrinsic/extrinsic) on learning, and the benefits of technology networks through connectivism on increasing informational capacity.   Truthfully, my views regarding learning styles categorized as kinesthetic, visual and/or auditory (primarily) was fairly limited in scope.  However, after research, discussion and exploration into the work of Multiple Intelligences of Gardner (Gardner, 2004), learning styles and possible fluctuations within (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008), it has become clear that it is essential to provide students with a multitude of sound cognitive learning strategies and a wealth of constructive learning experiences to both broaden and deepen their adaptability in an ever changing dynamic learning environment.  Additionally, several aspects of constructivism (making individual meaning), connectivism (learning networks through technology and informational access), and adult learning theories (Andragogy, experiential, transformative, holistic, spiritual) have piqued my curiosity so much, I pursued independent research from multiple sources and even purchased a number of books on learning theory, including “Human Learning” (Ormrod, 2008) and “Learning in Adulthood: a Comprehensive Guide” (Merriam et al., 2007), both which have enlightened me to the concept of adult learning separate from other learning.  It had never even dawned on me that adults learned differently.  Adult motivations being different makes sense; however, until this course I had not contemplated how much personal experiences (especially traumatic) can change the perspective of an individual’s learning, perceptions and ultimately, knowledge.   In retrospect, it feels as though I was living in the dark and someone shined a bright light on me.  This field has always held a particular fascination for me, and as such, I anticipate a continued pursuit in this direction as I work towards completion of the instructional design program.

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Lastly, as mentioned previously, the plethora of information regarding learning theory, learning styles, motivation and instructional technology will prove invaluable as I further my education and continue on into my career as an Instructional Designer.  For example, as a result of these initial technological “dabbling” I have extended my reach further and learned a great deal about online open classes, leading technology blogs, and various YouTube videos regarding instructional design, as well as discovery of a multitude of learning resources, including online books, libraries, videos, and shared lessons, advocates and support.  I consider myself fortunate to be a participant in such a comprehensive master’s program, and am confident I will utilize all of the knowledge and technology skills I have and will continue to acquire in my career as an Instructional Designer.

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References

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Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 59-71. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com

Gardner, H. (2004). Frequently asked questions-Multiple intelligences and related educational topics. Retrieved from http://www.howardgardner.com/FAQ/FREQUENTLY% 20ASKED%20QUESTIONS%20Updated%20March%2009.pdf

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate. Institute for Learning Styles Journal, 1. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/%7Ewitteje/ilsrj/Journal%20 Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf

Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Ormrod, J. (2008). Human Learning (5th ed.). New Jersey, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

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