How people learn best is a formidable question that I think it has an answer that is priceless. Finding out the methods or formats that people learn best would provide countless advantages to countries in terms of educating their people and preparing and equipping a faster and better workforce. That is why research and theories on learning are crucial. As educators, it is our responsibility to follow and be informed of such research in order to apply them to our teaching approach in a timely manner.
Driscoll (2005) describes learning as a permanent change in behavior. The goal of major learning theories is to find out the factors that cause a change in one's behavior permanently. Behaviorists explain learning as a behavioral act, and cognitive psychologists claim that it is a process that happens inside the brain, in the mind.
I think that learning cannot be explained by behaviorist theory or cognitive theory alone. Although cognitive theory is a reaction to behaviorism and it goes beyond the behaviorism in certain aspects such as explaining how people make decisions or make errors it is not enough to explain why people behave the way they behave. On the other hand, cognitive approach is unrealistic because it underestimates the biological influences. Another drawback of cognitive theory is that the human mind is way more complex than a computer.
Our brain processes the information that our body receives through senses. Two different people may process the same information in different amounts of time, and the outcomes may be different. I think that this is about their nature, i.e. the way they are born. In addition, animal behavior is instinctive but human beings do think. Hence the response of a person to a stimulus may be different than the response of an animal to the same stimulus. This point is where the behaviorist approach fails.
I believe that the motivation plays an important role in learning. However, not every person that has the same motivation learn the same. So, we need cognitive approach in understanding learning as well.
Driscoll, M. P. (2005).Psychology of learning for instruction(3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.