Sunday, December 11, 2011

What is Psychology?

Theories of Learning

Psychology is the scientific study of mental functions and behavior including:

Perception, cognition, behavior, emotion, personality, and interpersonal relationships.

Kaplan (1990) describes educational psychology as the application of psychology to education by focusing on the development, evaluation and application of theories and principles of learning and instruction that can enhance lifelong learning.  This means that as teachers we should not only focus on knowledge, on transmitting or sharing it, but in how useful and meaningful it will be for students’ lives and we should be more concerned about educating the whole person. The theories to be mentioned proposed different ways on which we should teach and how students should learn. All of them take into account different characteristics of the learners and the learning processes, however I believe that mixing them together and, taking what is useful for our own students is the best way to create that whole person mentioned.
The major theories of learning have been classified into three groups:

1.Behaviorist theories:

Focuses on stimulus response and reinforcers;
Studies conditioning, modifying, or shaping behavior through reinforcement and rewards

2. Cognitive theories:

Focuses information processing in relation to the total environment
Studies developmental stages, understanding, multiple forms of intelligence, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.

3. Phenomenological and Humanistic theories:

Focuses on the whole child, their social, psychological, and cognitive development.
Studies focus on human needs, attitudes, feelings and self-awareness.

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