Chapter Two

Learning Principles and Approaches

Having explored instruction and various methodologies, the next chapter presents an overview of the various approaches to learning.  The authors review behaviorism and cognitivism; then they begin with perception and attention, the start of the learning process.  Students are constantly perceiving both what is being presented and what can be distracting.  It is important to guide a student to attend to the required material.  This can affect the visual arrangement of the elements in my project.  Once exposed to the stimuli provided, it must be internalized which requires encoding, or the transfer of the information into a format that can be stored in and later accessed from the brain.  Organization of content can guide the learner to organize their memory for more efficient retrieval.  For example, following the familiar order of the Mass during training can help the altar server retrieve the necessary actions and gestures.

This requires the learner to first understand or comprehend the material.  A degree of passive learning may be helpful for learning terminology, liturgical colors, and vestments, but active learning is essential for altar servers to appreciate the meaning of each action and develop the motivation to serve with excellence and reverence.

Two models for motivation are presented in the text:  Malone’s Motivation Theory and Keller’s ARCs model.  Malone discussed the importance of the level of the challenge, sensory and cognitive curiosity, learner control, and fantasy.  Learner control resonated most with me for my project.  The progression of the lesson will depend upon the learner’s actions which in turn leads to appropriate feedback.  Keller reminds me of the importance of getting the learner’s attention, making the lesson meaningful and relevant, building confidence with clear and reasonable expectations, and leading to satisfaction with motivating feedback and positive consequences of learning.

I found it interesting that the locus of control varies from learner to learner.  Higher-achieving learners tend to benefit from more control; struggling learners succeed more with less control.  Mental models, diagrams, animations, or appropriate uses of media can be helpful to the learner.  Transfer of the new knowledge to another situation, whether a more advanced concept or an application of a skill within a real context, supports the learning process and promotes a sense of relevance.

Just as with face-to-face learning scenarios, differences between learners plays an important part when teaching with multimedia.  Learners vary in motivation, learning and cognitive styles, and even in the effectiveness of different types of media.  This does not mean a visual learner should never be given auditory cues; rather, a visual learner will be most successful when auditory and kinesthetic aspects are supported with visual cues.  I personally prefer a more eclectic approach where the instructor and/or software adapts to the content and the learner for the most effective instructional experience.

The authors then provide an overview of the debates surrounding the rise of constructivism in education.  Criticism is provided for all opinions in order to provide a well-rounded overview.  Personally, I prefer an eclectic approach here as well.  Some learners learn some material better with one approach; in a different setting, another approach will be more effective.  I do agree with the redirection of education from teacher-centered to learner-centered, but I don’t believe one should conclude a teacher may not be beneficial in order for instruction to be learner-based.  Multimedia and educational or training software can be designed for either approach.

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