Learning Theories and Teaching Chart

Stage 1

Behaviorism and Social Cognitive Theory

Learning theory

(ch 3 –6)

Basic assumptions Educational implications [enumerate] Key people

[provided for you]

Educational application 

[Chapters 3, 4, and 5]

P. 33.  (SOR)

1. Principles of learning should apply equally to different behaviors and to a variety of animal behaviors.

2. Learning processes can be studied most objectively when the focus of study is on stimuli and responses.

3. Internal processes are largely excluded from scientific study.

4. Learning involves behavior change.

5. Organisms are born as blank slates (tabula rasa)

6. Learning results from environmental events.

7. The most useful theories tend to be parsimonious ones.

P. 44 – 46.

1. Practice is important.

2. Students should encounter academic subject matter in a positive climate and associate it with pleasant emotions.

3. To break a bad habit, a learner must replace on S-R connection with another.

4. Assessing learning involves looking for behavior changes.


P. 53 through 62:

positive versus negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the presentation of a stimulus after a response. In comparison, negative reinforcement, increases a response through the removal of a stimulus, especially an aversive or unpleasant one. Although the terms positive and negative bring to mind good and bad reinforcement, this isn’t the case. For example, a positive reinforcement might be a teacher gives a student attention when they are misbehaving in class. The student continues to misbehave because a stimulus has been presented after acting up (the response). Conversely a negative reinforcement might be taking away a punishment (such as calling a parent because of past behavior) if student behavior for the rest of the day improves.


Russian psychologist who conducted classical conditioning experiments by providing a natural stimulus (bell); an unconditioned stimulus (UCS – meat powder) and its response to the unconditioned response (UCR – salivation. The neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned (CS) to which the organism has learned a conditioned response (CR) The bell became the conditioned stimulus that on its own led to the conditioned response of salivation.


Skinner: Skinner formulated the basic principle of operant conditioning (A response that is followed by a reinforcer is strengthened and therefore more likely to occur again) through his experiments with a Skinner Box (when a bar is pressed food comes into view, reinforcing pressing the bar).  The word reinforce implies a stimulus or event that increases the frequency of a response it follows.



Thorndike introduced the role of experience in the stimulus-response paradigm.

Based on his “cat in a puzzle box” experiment, he came to the conclusion that behaviors that led to a desired response (opening of the door) were repeated and therefore “stamped in” while behaviors that did not lead to the wanted response died out. He also believed that reward led to repeated behaviors while punishment was less successful in reducing behavior but led to other ineffective behavior.


Keller: Keller created the Personalized System of Instruction as a form of mastery learning, Its features include emphasis on individual study, unit exams, supplementary instructional techniques, use of proctors, discrete units, logical sequence self-pacing, and frequent measures of mastery.

Chapter 5 (at least 3)


1.  Using Reinforcement to Increase Desired Behaviors:

By outlining expected behaviors at the beginning of the year, creating a sign that is a visual reminder of these desired behaviors. The enforcers used for these behaviors must be meaningful for each child. For example, for a child who likes eating in the lunch room, having the opportunity to eat in the classroom with some friends is not an effective reinforcer for positive behavior.  Ther4e needs to be a variety of reinforcers children can choose from that reinforce the same positive classroom behaviors. Additionally, it is important to not overuse reinforcers or else students will come to expect them and their appeal will be greatly lessened. It is also important that reinforcers are not used if they are not needed.


2. Decreasing Undesired Behaviors in the Classroom:

In a classroom there are often times when the teacher wants to extinguish certain student responses that are harmful to the student itself, the class, or the school.  To decrease these undesired behaviors the teacher must decrease negative attention to these behaviors, and give positive attention at other times to fill the need the child feels for attention.


3. Managing Large Groups of Students:

You often want an entire class to behave in a certain way when they are walking the hallways to lunch. It is important to set the tone for the class before they leave the room. Getting 20-30 students completely silent and lined up neatly is a task that can be completed through applied behavior analysis. In most classrooms student have some sort of point system. Giving students 30 points at the beginning of the week and taking off points every time the students are expected to , but are not, quietly lined up, regardless on how many students are noisy puts the responsibility in the students hands and students manage each other’s behaviors through peer pressure (you don’t want to be the one student who was talking that results in the whole class losing a point!)

Social cognitive theory

[ based on Chapter 6]

P. 112 – 113 (list 4)

1. People can learn by observing other’s behaviors and the consequences that result.

2. Learning can occur without a change in behavior.

3. Cognition plays important roles in learning.

4 People can have considerable control over their actions and environments.


P. 116 – 118 cognitive factors (list 7)

1. Learning involves a mental (rather than behavioral) change

2. Certain cognitive processes are essential for learning to occur.

3. Learners must be aware of existing response-consequence contingencies.

4. Learners form expectations for future response- consequence contingencies.

5. Learners also form beliefs about their ability to perform various behaviors.

6.  Outcome and efficacy expectations influence cognitive processes that underlie learning.

7. The nonoccurrence of expected consequences is an influential consequence in and of itself.


P. 137 – 140 (8 listed)

1.  Students often learn a great deal simply by observing others.

2. Describing the consequences of behaviors can effectively increase appropriate behaviors and decrease inappropriate ones.

3. Modeling provides an alternative to shaping for teaching new behaviors.

4. Teachers, parents, and other adults must model appropriate behaviors and take care not to model inappropriate ones.

5. Exposure to a variety of other models further enhances students’ learning.

6. Students must believe they are capable of accomplishing school tasks,

7. Teachers should help students set realistic expectations for their accomplishments.

8. Self-regulation techniques provide effective methods for improving student behavior. 


Cognitive theorist. Bandura had four essential conditions for successful modeling: attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivation. Believed people stored both visual and verbal memory codes which served as guides when people performed an observed behavior.

Identify 1 or 2 based on Key terms and educational implications.

1. The Use of Modeling in the Classroom: Modeling is a large component of Social Cognitive Theory. Likewise classroom management is a large part of an elementary school classroom. The two tie together in that modeling can be successfully used to set up a classroom for the year in a way where behaviors are modeled.

By having the teacher and students modeling and practicing appropriate behaviors to help make them second nature to the students. Students who are not behaving in the proper fashion can be asked to model the appropriate behavior to show the teacher and the student itself that they can in fact behave in the desired way.

The use of think alouds is cognitive modeling as academic skills such as how to solve a math problem or write a paragraph are described step by step by a teacher as a model. Additionally, having students do think alouds to demonstrate their own thinking can be an effective method to used students as peer models and to have students work through their own thinking when they are stuck or having trouble solving a problem.






Stage 2:

Cognitive & Information Processing Theories

  Basic assumptions Educational implications [enumerate] Key people

[provided for you]

Educational application 
Cognitive theories

[Chapter 7]

P. 152 – 156 (5)

1. Some learning processes may be unique to human beings.

2. Learning involves the formation of mental representations or associations that aren’t necessarily reflected in overt behaviors changes.

3. People are actively involved in the learning process.

4. Knowledge is organized.

5. The focus of scientific inquiry must be on objective ,  systematic observations of people’s behaviors.


1. Students control their own learning through the cognitive processes in which they engage.

2. Instructional practices can have significant impact on how students mentally process classroom material and this also on how effectively students learn it.

  (Addressed more specifically in the items below)
Information processing theory

[Chapter 8, 9, 10, and 11]

Information processing theory deals with how we interpret and process information as well as how we remember and retrieve information for future use. It is believed there are three distinct parts of memory – the sensory register, working memory, and long-term memory. Others believe focusing on the depth of processing is more important to learning than working memory.,  In terms of teaching, students must be actively engaged in the content in order to learn. They also must be focusing on the right types of material is also important to remember that students can only process so much information at a time. It is also important to address any prior misconceptions before teaching new material, so that new material isn’t connect to false material. It is also important students have automaticity in their retrieval of information. P. 181 – 2 (list 3)

1. Attention is essential for explicit memory.

2. Learners can process only a limited amount of questions at a time.

3. Learners must be selective about what they choose to study and learn.

  Ch 9,   P. 211 – 19, Effective memory storage.

For effective memory storage, prior knowledge must be activated, beginning with what students already know. Students are more likely to engage in meaningful learning when they‘re explicitly encouraged to do so.  Students often need guidance in determining what things are most important to learn. A variety of signals pointing to important information can facilitate such expertise. Instruction is more effective when it helps students organize news material. Providing an advanced organizer will help the students organize wheat they are learning.  Instruction is more effective when it encourages students to elaborate on what they’re learning. Visual aids engaging long term memory storage, The most effective ways to teacher procedural knowledge depend to some degree on the nature of the procedures to be learned. Students learn new material more effectively when they have sufficient time to process it well. End-of-lesson summarize promote learning and retention. Effective instruction provides opportunities for review and practice of previously learned knowledge and skills. Learning quickly does not always mean learning better.

Ch 10, P. 252 – 62, Conceptual change: Conceptual change is the process of replacing one personal theory or belief system with another, presumably more adaptive one. The change is referring to the tightly interconnected sets of ideas rather than single, isolated concepts.

 Nature of knowledge: There can be considerable redundancy in how information is stored. Most of our knowledge is a summary of our experiences rather than information about specific events. In most situations, integrated knowledge is more useful than fragmented knowledge. The in-depth study of a few topics is often more beneficial than the superficial study of many topics.

Ch 11, P. 280 – 7, General principles of retrieval: The internal organization of a body of information facilities its retrieval. How something is retrieved at one time affects how it will be retrieved later n. Information that must be retrieved within a particular context should ideally be stored within that context. External retrieval cues minimize failure to retrieve. Questions about previously learned material can promote review and further elaboration. Taxonomies of objectives can be useful reminders of the various ways in which students might be asked to think about and apply what they’ve learned. 



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