Learning Theories: How do adult learners actually learn best? What are the characteristics of learners and the appropriate selection of instructional methods to create effective, targeted training solutions that meet the learners needs and business goals? (AOE 2. Instructional Design; 2.2. Learning Theories)
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Learning Objectives for Section 2.2.:
- Summarize the role adult learning theories play in the design of learning solutions
- Discuss Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- Discuss Malcom Knowles’ concept of andragogy and its importance to instructional design
- Explain the difference between teaching and facilitating learning
- Describe the individual characteristics of learning, including the roles that motivation, goals, experience, and culture play.
- Define the various theories of learning and memory, including behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism.
- Describe the concept of the learning brain model and how it relates to adult learning
- List six external and environmental influences that affect an adult’s ability to learn
- Explain Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligence theory
- Consider the learning strategies, tactics, experiences, and learning environments that support the theories
- Relate the design of materials to the differences in the ways adults learn
- Explain why training is designed as it is
- Assess designs to ensure that it meets the needs of learners
- Outline how learning theory influences knowledge acquisition, retention, and application of information.
- Behaviorism: concerned with the relationship between stimuli and response to predict and control behavior; advantages:
- Establishes objectives that are clear and unmistakable
- Ensures behavioral practice, not just theory
- Works best for helping learners to acquire behavioral skills
- Is highly specific
- Is observable (learners know when they have succeeded)
- Cognitivism: focuses on what is happening to the learning internally; trying to “understand understanding” specifically how people perceive, think, remember, learn, solve problems, and attend to one stimulus over another; advantages:
- Treats people as adults
- Focuses on thinking skills
- Emphasizes foundational knowledge
- Builds a base of information, concepts, and rules
- Provides the rationale upon which action is based
- Constructivism: the focus is on how learners internalize what they learn; advantages:
- Is discovery orient
- Centers on learner understanding
- Builds learner understanding with real-world relevance
- Allows for differences in learner backgrounds and experiences
- Has facilitators guide learners through the learning process
- Self-concept of the learner:
- Prior experience of the learner
- Readiness to learn
- Orientation to learning
- Motivation to learn
- Verbal and nonverbal messages that don’t match
- Reluctance to speak
- Limited eye contact
- Proximity to others
- Power distance
- What cultural norms or values might exist?
- How do they differ among all learners?
- What implications do these norms or values have in designing the content?
- What adjustments need to be made in the design?
The Whole Brain Thinking Model: we use the whole brain (both sides/hemispheres) to process information. These are complementary, not competitive to make a decision, analyze a problem, compare solutions, and support long-term learning. The left side of the brain is associated with time orientation; sequential processing of events; language; logic; mathematics; analysis; and awareness of cause and effect. The right side of the brain specializing in the following functions: emotion; intuition; visual-spatial orientation; music; art, imagery, and pattern awareness; synthesis of information; simultaneous processing of events; timelessness; and divergent thinking.
This model of whole brain thinking was analyzed by the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) developed by Herrmann (1988) to study how individuals' thinking preferences, or brain dominance, affect the way we work, learn, and communicate. The HBDI classifies learners in terms of thinking in four modes or quadrants of the brain:
A. Rational/Intellectual: logical, quantitative, analytical, technical factual
B. Lower-Left Limbic = Practical/Instinctive: sequential, controlled, detailed, organized, conservative
C. Upper-Right Cerebral = Experimental/Intellectual: metaphoric, integrative, visual, synthesizing, conceptual
D. Lower-Right Limbic = Relational/Instinctive: emotional, musical, humanistic, expressive, sensory
External and Environmental Influences: these factors can impact or influence how professionals/employees learn, like in more informal training environments or a relaxed atmosphere. Different aspects can impact motivation to learn and the transfer of training specifically these external or environmental factors: stress, time pressures, job status, learning environment, peers, supervisor, family, and/or company conditions.
A couple of books I mentioned for learning theories
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The Learn/Perform Mixtape is a podcast of my study notes as I prepare for the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP). More at: https://techknowtools.com/learnperform-mixtape/