Learning is something that takes place everyday for most people in some way, shape or form and varies depending on certain circumstances. The principles can be simple or radical depending on opinion, some you may agree with while others you might discount straight away. Whether it is in the classroom or sat at home, it is important to understand that learning takes place all the time and people can learn new things everyday regardless of age, culture or background. The education system is the best example to connect these theories as it is so varied in its delivery depending on factors such as again age, skill sets and ability in particular. Overall it is important to understand that by following some of these theories and principles it will help all tutors in performing better within the classroom and delivering better sessions which means that you will enhance the experience for the learner.
Theories and Principles of Learning
It is important to understand the significance of learning theories and principles as it is important for tutors to understand them, which will then help ensure that effective learning is taking place. It can support the tutor and the learner through the process which allows for success within the taught subject. I believe that certain theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Motivation and Personality, Third Edition, Harper and Row Publishers are not relevant in regards to all learning sectors today, in particular not in the lifelong learning sector. I agree with Geert Hofsteds’s (1984). “The cultural relativity of the quality of life concept”. Academy of Management Review that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs neglects to illustrate and expand upon the difference between the social and intellectual needs of those raised in different societies. I think that with our society as it is today, due to such a huge and diverse range of cultures now within the United Kingdom that it is impossible for this to still completely apply.
Within the lifelong learning sector I think that andragogy is perhaps the best principle to apply. Malcolm Knowles researched and penned the four crucial assumptions to his theory which are as follows:
1. Self-concept: As a person matures his self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being 2. Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. 3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles. 4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centredness. He later added a fifth assumption in 1984: 5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal.
Within the post 16 sector individuals are more geared up to follow in what they want to do and have the experience and hopefully the right mindset to try and achieve this. Therefore this theory is one that can support a tutor by simply understanding why the learners are there, which is normally through choice rather than in the school system were pedagogy seems to take precedent and is a legal requirement. Analysing such theories will always help towards my own personal development and will hopefully allow myself to develop and improve the experience for the learners.
“The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium: The Oxford Dictionary”
Effective communication is essential within any teaching field and perhaps more so in the lifelong learning sector. Without this then even the simplest of tasks can become difficult or done wrongly simply by misinterpreting what the instructions are. The important thing to remember is that it is a two way process. It is all very well telling the learners what to do but if you do not allow them to ask questions to double check what you have said or even as the tutor you were may not have been clear enough to the learners in your delivery. I believe also that gaining a good rapport is essential with the age group that I deal with as some of the information being given is sometimes completely new to them. As it can be a lot to take in within such a short time period then openly discussing their opinions and what they are aware of is important to their and in some cases my understanding of the subject matter that we are delivering to them.
Impact of Learning Theory on Practise
Describing how a Foundation Learning course operates is not that simple, but in effect it ties in with the learner and should adapt and cater for the learners specific needs and can be tailored to incorporate different aspects of what we deliver and what they want to complete. Our end goal even though it is not within our YPLA contract is to gain them employment after they have improved on their qualifications, which we are contracted on for our funding. My role within this is the delivery of the third week of the induction completing an Employability Award, whilst also helping the learners select which direction and qualifications that they would like to complete with us.
Within the classroom I am doing career progression and interview techniques and these are essential to the learner in helping them choose what career direction they would like to go in when they eventually leave us. My main delivery method is to openly discuss with the learners their knowledge and opinions on certain aspects about what is needed for their future employment. While also making sure that there is class participation by everyone and hopefully building on their confidence as individuals. By doing this it helps me gain knowledge and hopefully a good rapport with the individual, which is necessary as I complete their Individual Learning Plan with them.
This then helps them decide what they are going to do and provides support to them so they can tailor what they want from the Foundation Learning Programme that we offer at CTS Training Ltd. There are two theories that I believe are best applied to the lifelong learning sector and that they specifically apply to my own role on a day to day bases. The first is the Humanistic approach which I have looked at is Carl Rogers and I believe that out of his all his hypotheses that the following one is the most important. “A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another’s learning. This is a result of his personality theory, which states that everyone exists in a constantly changing world of experience in which he or she is the center.
Each person reacts and responds based on perception and experience. The belief is that what the student does is more important than what the teacher does. The focus is on the student. Therefore, the background and experiences of the learner are essential to how and what is learned. Each student will process what he or she learns differently depending on what he or she brings to the classroom.” Rogers, Carl (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory.
For the Foundation Learning programme to work it should be understood that the learner must bring themselves to the table as they are responsible for the choice and control of what they want to achieve. They must also be able to self evaluate their own performance in regards to how they feel they are doing and whether they will be successful, with or without support, in regards to what qualifications they are completing and what career choices that they have made. We can guide the learners but I would suggest we let them guide themselves so I try to apply what I should be doing in the following quote when delivering in the classroom:
“The tutor or lecturer tends to be more supportive than critical, more understanding than judgmental, more genuine than playing a role.”
The next theory that I apply is also tied into this and is one that I have discussed early in this assignment and that is the theory of andragogy. I believe that this also ties up well with the humanistic approach as well and by using the two together they complement each other and hopefully reinforce confidence within the learner that they will be able to succeed. Allowing them to be more in control and understanding that they make the decisions which is what the essence of Foundation Learning is, means that I am able to tailor my sessions depending on the groups I get. As I deliver to a different group on a weekly basis, this means I can focus on what is either more important or specific for that group rather than them just completing the same work each week and not addressing what they bring as a whole or on an individual basis.
This can be challenging as it can change my aims and objectives on a daily basis which I believe is also good as it keeps the sessions fresh and up to date. By getting the learners to communicate with each other and myself I believe they can then take control of their learning. Giving their input to the direction that they want to choose and ultimately even without them knowing, breaking away from practises such as pedagogy which on the whole, has not worked for many of my learners which is why they have not made a success of the school system.
Reflections on Insights Gained from Application of Learning Theory
Overall on reflection I believe that this has helped immensely in regards to my approach to how I deliver within the classroom. My experiences of teaching are only within one aspect of the lifelong learning sector but I can see that my delivery has improved by realising and believing that the learner needs to be more active in the decision process of what subjects that they want to learn. A majority of my learners have been told in the past you’re doing this or that next and the decision have been taken away from them as individuals, whether this is directed from their school or even their parents. But I think regardless of where the influences of previous decisions have come from allowing the learner to take a more active role, in particular within the 16 – 19 category I work in, is essential as it will hopefully change the way that they learn forever and make their choices in the future.
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