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Learning Theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Humanism

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This essay explores some of the learning theories and they will be evaluated based on the essay’s authors approach or learning. The learning theories can be classified in 3 schools of thought:

  1. Behaviourism. The learning process is linked to the behavioural observable output. Ivan Pavlov in 1927 defines the “classical conditioning” theory, based on the “stimulus-response” mechanism (Learning-Theories.com, 2016), (Staats, 1996). This learning process is considered passive, unconscious, universal and key for learning basics like survival, protection and security. However behavioural learning theories are not applicable to adults learning process since the basic skills are already learnt.
  2. Cognitivism. These theories focus on the learning process of how the information is received, processed, organized, stored and interpreted; similar model is applied in computer sciences (Ertmer & Newby, 2013), (Learning-Theories.com, 2016).  Cognitivism covers more abstract learning process like problem solving, concept formation and information processing. I personally use a cognitivist learning processes during learning and process solving of engineering activities; I should mention that I’m engineer and I lead engineering teams.
  3. Humanism. Abraham Maslow in 1954 with the hierarchy of needs theory, creates the foundations for the humanistic dimension of learning. The most abstract need of self-actualization, that means to fulfil one’s full potential, is the key proposition for such theory. Here the emotions play a fundamental role, the individual creates a subjective model of the reality and pursuits higher levels of knowledge  (lifecircles-inc.com, 2016), (Davis, 2016). Later in this essay we will explore experimental learning theory that belongs to this group and are key for learning in adults. I personally apply humanism learning approach, especially during reading books about philosophy, abstract reasoning and discussions with fellows regarding similar interests.

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