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Learning Theories and Instructional Design

The Behaviorism Learning Theory

Behaviorism is a learning theory which studies Obvious Behaviors. Obvious Behaviors include behaviors that can be calculated and observed. This learning theory considers the mind as a black box, where the possibility of thought processes occurring in the mind is not considered. The black box represents the response to stimulus that can be observed quantitatively. Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike and Skinner widely promoted and experimented in the behaviorist theory.

Behaviorism has created a wide impact on different educational areas, such as, systems approach, computer-assisted learning, objectives etc. In Instructional Design curriculum, behavioral objectives would contain a learning task, split into distinct quantifiable tasks through analysis.

The Cognitive Theory

The Cognitivism learning theory takes a different path from the behaviorism learning theory. Cognitivism is a learning theory which deals with the internal mental processes of the mind and how these processes could be used to endorse effective learning. While in behaviorism a task is broken down into small steps and then used to shape the learner's behavior, in Cognitivism the tasks are first analyzed and then broken down into steps. These bits of information are then used to enlarge learning in instructional design curriculum. This information is then taught from the most simple to the most complex depending on the learner's prior schema.

In Instructional Design curriculum, the Cognitive learning theory plays a vital role. Organizing information, using metaphors and arranging information from simple to complex has been taken from the cognitive learning theory.

The Constructivism Theory

Behaviorism and Constructivism are both objective in nature. Both these learning theories promote defining objectives, breaking information into small tasks and finally measuring the learner's performance based on these objectives. The Constructivism learning theory on the other hand promotes a learning experience, where the learning approach for each learner would be different and where the methods and end results cannot be easily measured.

The constructive learning theory believes in aiding learning rather than controlling learning, because the learning outcome may not always be predictable. Constructivism principles in instructional design curriculum are applied in the use of the hypertext and hypermedia, where the learner can gain access to a wider area of learning.

Read more about use case modeling in e-Learning.

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