Monday, June 9, 2014

Module 1 - Learning Theory and Educational Technology

Mustafa Sarli

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.


  1. Mustafa,

    You mentioned the cognitive theory so I would like to comment on that. From a cognitive learning perspective, learning involves the transformation of information in the environment into knowledge that is stored in the mind. Learning occurs when new knowledge is acquired or existing knowledge is modified by experience.

    Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) was the first to state that learning is a developmental cognitive process, that students create knowledge rather than receive knowledge from the teacher. He recognized that students construct knowledge based on their experiences, and that how they do so is related to their biological, physical, and mental stage of development.


    Hammond, L., Austin, K., Orcutt, S., & Rosso, J. (2001) How people learn: Introduction to learning theories. Retrieved from

  2. I agree when you stated "How people learn best is a formidable question." I believe that their in no one correct answer as the way we each learn is as different as each individual is in general. Even though I am not a licensed teacher, I have worked with children and teenagers for over twenty-five years now. Experience has shown me that I need to pay attention to each individual in order to figure out the best way for them to learn. Every child in my child care is unique and all learn differently than others their own age. The same can be said for the four teenage young men I foster at any given time. I liken the task to putting a puzzle together. Eventually I make progress and the children/teenagers become less frustrated and find that they can learn. It is so rewarding to see their happiness when they bring a report card home that shows how well they are doing. Most of the time they are so surprised that they could do this, that it breaks my heart.

    Great post!