Saturday, June 25, 2011

Learning Theories : A final reflection

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”  (Clay P. Bedford). The goal of education is to provide students with the necessary tools for lifelong learning.  The role of the Instructional Designer is to create such a course that is appealing and motivating for the learner and is effective in the of delivery knowledge, creating real life problem solving situations and imparting important skills. In order to do this the Instructional Designer must have extensive knowledge of learning theories.
The way people learn
For an instructional designer to successfully fulfill their role, they must “Conceptually and intuitively understand how people learn” (Malamed, n.d).  The psychology of learning plays an important part in the role of the instructional designer as it impacts “not only on the order in which we present material but the ways in which we present it, the things we ask students to do with it, the questions we ask of them” (Dr, Ormrod, n.d). Knowledge of each of the theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Connectivism, Social learning and Adult  learning theory is “critical when attempting to select an effective prescription for overcoming a given instructional problem” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p.51).  The Instructional Designer must not rely on one theory, or give precedence to any one theory over the other; rather they should assess the learner and the task and apply the best possible strategy for the learner.

The author’s personal learning style
Since adults and children have different factors motivating them to pursue education, I have found my learning has changed considerably over the years (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, n.d). In my early years of education, I was often motivated by external factors and was a passive recipient of knowledge. However, in this stage in my life I feel the pursuit of education is more internally motivated and I am an active participant in my education (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, n.d).  I can also see how technological advancement has affected the way I learn. I consult many different sources of information due to the availability and instantaneous nature of technology (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly Batesman, n.d). 

The connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation
The Instructional Designer, who creates online courses, has a more difficult task than a traditional face to face instructor. A traditional instructor has an advantage and can adapt and change instruction based on the verbal and body language of the student (Huett et al, 2008). So for the Instructional Designer, it is even more important to assess the learner’s needs at the beginning of the course to gauge their learning style and find the appropriate strategy to scaffold the learning and keep them motivated.  In order to design instruction that continually facilitates learning, the use of educational technology needs to be employed as “Nurturing and maintaining connections are needed to facilitate continual learning” (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly Batesman, n.d).  Educational technology can also address the various learning styles, as information can be presented in multiple formats and courses can be designed in such a way that learners may submit assessments in multiple formats.  This also helps to keep students motivated and on task (Keller, 1999). The learning theories are tools that that help the instructor “to select an effective prescription for overcoming a given instructional problem” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 51).
The combined knowledge of learning theories, styles, technology and motivation should allow the Instructional Designer to create a course effective, “affective as well as [a] cognitive enterprise” (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2007, p. 259)

Application of this knowledge as an Instructional Designer
Education is going through major changes since students are now competing in global market. Texas recently changed its state test to something more aligned with college standards (TEA, n.d). Educators are urged to move away from teacher centered lessons to more student focused instruction and so there is a need for instructors to design a curriculum that is “both flexible and adaptable” (Morrison and Gary, 2011, vii). Through the extensive knowledge gained on this course, I wish to help the English department in my school in two ways; firstly, by designing effective training for teachers so that they can apply the new STAARs standards in their classrooms and ensure that all assignments and assessments meet the state standards. Secondly, by creating a curriculum that aligns with the STAARs and provides the students with the opportunity to excel at a comprehensive and rigorous test.  The learning theories will equip me with the correct tools to ensure that I am able to create an environment that facilitates and extends learning.
            The STAARs has already made many teachers anxious as they have been teaching TAKS type material for many years. Many feel that they will have to retrain in many areas due to the more challenging standards that the STAARs will bring. Since training can be time consuming and expensive, especially with new budget cuts, “the goal for the instructional designer is to design and develop instruction that will improve performance in a most effective and efficient manner” (Morrison and Gary, 2011, p.3).
Due to the introduction of STAARs many changes will have to be made to the existing curriculum so that it is can meet the new Texas standards. The role of instructional designers is very important in this area as they will produce a curriculum “that serves a necessary purpose, meets the needs of students, is attractive and well organized, is delivered in an appropriate mode and is continually evaluated and improved” (Morrison and Gary, 2011, p.5). The knowledge of learning theories will help me to design a curriculum that, while engaging and motivating students, is rigorous and relevant to the needs of the American society and the global market.
Instructional designers can only be effective in their roles if they can understand how and why human beings learn and Walden University’s course in Learning Theories and Instruction, has certainly provided an excellent background to this. I am excited  to use this knowledge in my existing profession as a classroom teacher and looks forward to using it in any future roles as an Instructional Designer.
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (n.d.). Adult learning. Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology has a problem. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (n.d.).  Connectivism. Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology has a problem. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from
Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (1993).  Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective.. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71.
Malamed, C. "10 Qualities of the Ideal Instructional Designer ." E-Learning . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2011. < >.
Morrison, G. R. (2011). Designing effective instruction   (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction .  New York : (Laureate custom edition).  Pearson.

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