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Objectives :

Objectives Define the Learning theory. Enumerate the Learning Theories. To know who are the people involved in each theory. Apply the Learning theories to Healthcare Practice.

Learning Theory:

Learning Theory A learning theory is a coherent framework and set of integrated constructs and principles that describe, explain, or predict how people learn.


LEARNING THEORIES Behavioral Learning Theory Cognitive Learning Theory Social Learning Theory Psychodynamic Learning Theory Humanistic Learning Theory

Behaviorist theory:

Behaviorist theory Behaviorism is a theory of animal and human learning that only focuses on objectively observable behaviors and discounts mental activities. Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior.

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believed that humans are born with a few reflexes and the emotional reactions of love and rage. All other behavior is established through stimulus-response associations through conditioning. Example : fear of hot stove Stimulus followed by a response = avoid the stove

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BF. Skinner ·   Known for operant conditioning Behavioral or operant conditioning occurs when a response to a stimulus is reinforced. Basically, operant conditioning is a simple feedback system: If a reward or reinforcement follows the response to a stimulus, then the response becomes more probable in the future. For example, leading behaviorist B.F. Skinner used reinforcement techniques to teach pigeons to dance and bowl a ball in a mini-alley.

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OPERANT CONDITIONING MODEL : I – To increase the probability of a response: Positive Reinforcement : application of a pleasant stimulus Reward conditioning : a pleasant stimulus is applied following organism’s response B. Negative reinforcement : removal of an aversive or unpleasant stimulus Escape conditioning : as an aversive stimulus is applied, the organism makes a response that causes the unpleasant stimulus to cease.

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Avoidance conditioning : an aversive stimulus is anticipated by the organism, who makes a response to avoid the unpleasant event II. To decrease or extinguish the probability of a response: Non-reinforcement: an organism’s conditioned response is not followed by any kind of reinforcement (positive, negative, or punishment) Punishment: following a response, an aversive stimulus is applied which the organism cannot escape or avoid

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Edward Thorndike 1898 ·   Thorndike concluded that animals learn, solely, by trial and error, or reward and punishment. All learning involves the formation of connections, and connections are strengthened according to the law of effect. Intelligence is the ability to form connections and humans are the most evolved animal because they form more connections then any other being.

Ivan Pavlov:

Ivan Pavlov Classic conditioning occurs when a natural reflex responds to a stimulus. The most popular example is Pavlov's observation that dogs salivate when they eat or even see food. Essentially, animals and people are biologically "wired" so that a certain stimulus will produce a specific response.

Cognitive learning theory :

Cognitive learning theory Believe that higher order thinking skills is a result of far more complex processing than just stimulus-response sequences. Focus- mental process that are responsible for behavior.

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Jean Piaget 1969 Cognitive development is the growth of logical thinking from infancy to adulthood. He identified and described FOUR sequential stages of cognitive development. ( sensorimotor , preoperational, concrete operations and formal operations)

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Lev Vygostsky 1986 “Social development theory” Emphasized the significance of language, social interaction, and adult guidance in the learning process. Vygotsky’s theory promotes learning contexts in which students play an active role in learning. Roles of the teacher and student are therefore shifted, as a teacher should collaborate with his or her students in order to help facilitate meaning construction in students. Learning therefore becomes a reciprocal experience for the students and teacher.

David Rumelhart 1980:

David Rumelhart 1980 Built a more comprehensive theory of cognitive learning, whose foundation was the concept of schema or schemata ( knowledge structures that are stored in memory) “ all knowledge is package into units” Example: process of remembering the route to work and recognizing people ( Cust 1995)

David Ausubel 1963:

David Ausubel 1963 According to Ausubel , learning is based upon the kinds of superordinate , representational, and combinatorial processes that occur during the reception of information. A primary process in learning is subsumption in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a substantive, non-verbatim basis. Cognitive structures represent the residue of all learning experiences; forgetting occurs because certain details get integrated and lose their individual identity.

Social Learning Theory:

Social Learning Theory According to early social learning theory, much of the learning occurs by observation- watching other people and discerning what happens to them. Learning is often a social process, and other individuals, especially “ significant others” provide compelling examples or role models for how to think, feel and act.

While Miller and Dollard 1941:

While Miller and Dollard 1941 >> Viewed Social Learning as a mixture of behaviorist, psychodynamic influences.

Bandura 1977, 1986, 2001:

Bandura 1977, 1986, 2001 Role modeling is a central concept of the theory. Example: a more experienced nurse who demonstrates desirable professional attitudes and behavior sometimes is used as a mentor for less experience nurse, while medical students, interns, and residents are mentored by attending physicians.

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Four-step process that directs to learning Attention Phase- observation of role model. Retention Phase- storage and retrieval of what was observed Reproduction Phase- learner copies the observed behavior. Motivational Phase- which focuses on whether the learner is motivated to perform certain type of behavior.

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Bandura 2001- Shifted his focus to sociocultural influences, viewing the learner as the agent through which learning experiences are filtered. >> he stressed the internal dynamics of personal selection, intentionally, self- regulation, self efficacy and self- evaluation ion the learning process >> “human mind is generative, creative and reflective, and not just reactive”

Psychodynamic Learning Theory:

Psychodynamic Learning Theory >> central principle of the theory is that behavior may be conscious or unconscious that is, individuals may or may not be aware of their motivations and why the feel, think, and act as they do. >> primitive source of motivation comes from ID and is based on LIBIDINAL energy.( the basic instincts, impulses, and desires we are born with). Which includes eros (the desire for pleasure and sometimes called “life force” and thanatos (aggressive and destructive impulses or “death wish”)

Erik Erikson 1968:

Erik Erikson 1968 The eight stages of life, organized around a psychosocial “crisis” to be resolved at each stage. Infancy- birth to 18 months (trust vs. mistrust) early childhood- 18 mons to 3 yrs (autonomy vs. shame and doubt Late childhood 3-5 yrs ( initiative vs. guilt) school age 6-12 yrs ( industry vs. inferiority) Adolescence 12-20 yrs (identity vs. role confusion) Young adulthood 18-25 yrs (intimacy vs. isolation) Adulthood 25- 65yrs. ( generatively vs. stagnation) Maturity- 65- to death (integrity vs. despair)

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Example: in working with 4-5 year old patients, where the crisis is Initiative vs. guilt, health professionals should encourage these children to offer their ideas and to make and do things themselves

Humanistic Learning Theory:

Humanistic Learning Theory Humanistic perspective on learning is the assumption that each individual is unique and that all individuals have a desire to grow in a positive way.

Carl Rogers (1961, 1994):

Carl Rogers (1961, 1994) >> argued that what people want is unconditional positive self- regard ( the feeling of being loved without strings attached). >> experiences that are threatening, coercive, and judgmental undermine the ability and enthusiasm of individuals to learn.

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Example: if a health professional is prejudiced against AIDS patients, then little will be healing or therapeutic in her relationship with them until she is genuinely able to feel respect for the patient as an individual.

Abraham Maslow 1987:

Abraham Maslow 1987 Adapted the Hierarchy of needs. > Autonomy and self determination are important : thus the learner identifies the learning needs and actively participates and takes responsibility for meeting the individual learning needs.


References: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/subsumption-theory.html http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/19919565/Learning%20Theories Bastable,S . Nurse as Educator, 2 nd edition Boston: Jones and Bartlett 2005 De Young, S. Teaching Strategies for Nurse Educators. Upper Saddle River, NJ Practice Hill. 2007

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