Theories and Principles of Learning

TASK 1 ??“ 1500 WORD ESSAY

Cornwall; the county in which we practice is without doubt more culturally diverse than ever before, for example the number of children in school who do not speak English as a first language increased by over 20% between 2007 and 2008 (School census 2007 and 2008). It is agreed that education must offer equality and all students must feel they are positively and equally valued (Petty, 2009).

The England And Wales Cricket Board, my subject specific governing body, quote a vision statement reading ???To become and remain the world??™s leading governing body in providing access to the sport of cricket for people with disabilities. To deliver a culture of inclusion at all levels within our sport and ensure that people with any impairment are respected and valued for the contribution that they make to the game. (ECB 2009 ??“ 1013)

This essay aims to identify areas effecting learners and their learning, incorporating a selection of theories and principles to enhance diversity and inclusion drawing from my own subject specific area and teaching. I will start on a theory with great significance in my coaching ??“ sensory stimulation.

Sensory stimulation as a theory very much comes to the fore in my subject specific. The basic premise of this (Laird, 1985) is that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated and the vast majority of knowledge held by learners is through seeing. My planning incorporates a high degree of visual stimulation through tutor and peer demonstration (teaching Observation 1). With this approach I would also use extensive non verbal communication which will assist those learners less able to interpret the spoken word for example or simply the effect of noise in a sports hall; ???The fidelity of the message which is communicated in the classroom is always affected in some measure by a variety of interfaces known as noise??? (Curzon, 2004. pg 134).Clearly a large proportion of my practical sessions are in a large sports hall environment with relatively large group of students and often machinery ??“ ???noise??? in its real sense is a major factor not only to be taken into consideration for communicating but for overall safety and a pleasant learning environment. Specific planning comes into play here in devising sessions that are quickly and easily demonstrated focusing on non verbal communication.

Another theory which resonates highly from my specific coaching practice is that of Reinforcement; a theory I believe in and is echoed when observing my mentor in his practice. This theory developed most notably, by Skinner (Laird 1985, Burns 1995) early this century, discusses the notion that behaviour is a function of its consequences; in that the learner will repeat a behaviour if positive reinforcement follows the behaviour. Whether through planning or just good practice positive and constructive reinforcement and feedback, in however small a dose, can be inclusive without doubt and provide rewards both formative and summative. (Pelorus Learning)

Moving forward to more specific areas I will look at theories surrounding gender. Research into gender is diverse and extensive in itself and noted that females receive less attention than males (Petty, 2004) also that classroom communication is male dominated. (Crawley, 2006). (Dindia & Allen, 1992) theorise that the female tendency is for self-disclosure which contrasts to male tendencies of non-disclosure. Here, in my subject specific, we perhaps look to take on the female tendency in encouraging dialogue with learners to share their experiences thus giving the students the opportunity to participate in their own progress and take ownership of their goals. The theoretical male tendency, also from Dindia & Allen??™s research, is to simply profess advise or offer a solution can take away from this group approach. It is important, therefore, in my practice to implement strategies to counter balance these tendencies when assessing technical areas and communicating solutions for correction ??“ more critically, in fact, with Peer involvement. I have also become more aware of classroom language through reflection and re-visiting my Teaching Observation 2, feedback on which discussed appropriate language styles.

If we consider a principle that the learning should be related to and use the learners experience and knowledge (Pelorus Learning), we can discuss such theories as Social Development Theory which suggests social interaction precedes development and cognition and are the end product of social behaviour (Vygotsky, 1978). Also Constructivism where learning is an active and indeed constructive process in which learners construct their own objective reality and new information is linked to prior knowledge and experience. (Bruner 1973). Within this thought race and religion come into mind and how important inclusivity is here. If learning is thought to be derived largely from experience and prior knowledge (Curzon 2004) such differences in students as race and culture will have an undoubted influence therefore planning is imperative. In my practice I am involved with a number of e.s.o.l. learners with a culturally different coaching background. I have through reading and mentor discussion (Mentor log)learnt in incorporate ideas and influences from other cultures into my session planning to ensure inclusion.

I have studied Jerome Bruner and in particular his Spiral Curriculum approach. Here Bruner??™s theory is that each subject or skill area is revisited at intervals at a more sophisticated level each time. (Bruner, 2006). A procedure I now know I include in my practice by revisiting a technique several times over a course, making the drill or activity more challenging each time. Furthermore Bruner forms his theory from three modes of learning representation; enactive which is action based, iconic which is image based and symbolic which is language based. From this we can see how Bruner believes learning becomes more involved as the age or learning levels increase.

Following on into Motivational theory which argues that while people aim to meet basis needs they seek to need successively higher needs in the form of a hierarchy (Maslow, 1954). Here in my own specific area of practice students look to their Peers in many ways for progression and improvement by example. My group incorporates students widely diverse in experience and achievement. This is itself promotes a hierarchy and this is witnessed regularly by a sense of belongingness (Maslow 1943) with students engaging and taking ???instruction ??? from peers. Applying the principle that the learning environment must be one of trust, respect and acceptance of differences (Clarke 1988) within the motivational theory framework can lead to an enhanced session with quality learning outcomes.

Finally, a little discussed theory is one in which perhaps our modern day approach and thought process could pay more heed. That of Multimedia Learning. Research on educational technologies–ranging from motion pictures to computer-based tutoring systems–documents a disappointing history in which strong claims for a new technology are followed by large-scale implementations which eventually fail (Cuban, 1986). A strong and perhaps confusing finding bearing in mind many establishments??™ desire to implement ever challenging and innovative forms of educational technology. According to the theory, the learner possesses a visual information processing system and a verbal information processing system, so that auditory narration goes into the verbal system whereas animation goes into the visual system. (Mayer, 1997), Research into this encompasses ideas such as ???multiple Representation Principle: Its is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words??? (Mayer & Anderson, 1991, 1992). And ???contiguity principle: when giving a multimedia explanation, present corresponding words and pictures contiguously rather than separately???. Two ideas that should resonate through all of our planning and two ideas that will undoubtedly assist inclusivity of learners with learning difficulties. Within my own teaching practice I have included a number of times on my IDP (portfolio IDP section) my wish/need to incorporate more emerging technology with the use of video within my sessions which when considering the above theories and principles will clearly give an enhanced learning environment and diverse learning experience for my students.

To summarise I feel the proper implication of learning theories incorporating well planned strategies following understanding of appropriate principles can lead to the all important inclusive learning stance we should all strive to bring into our establishments which will provide a broad learning environment giving fulfilment to learners and educators alike.


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