Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Essay Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Abstract Learning theories are a fundamental aspect to understanding organisms, which originated with introspection, then progressed to the more objective view known as behaviorism, and to cognitivism. Ivan Pavlov suggested that people are influenced by their environment and documented the process of classical conditioning. Cognitive learning on the other hand, notes that behavior is shaped by imitation and modeling, suggested by Neal Miller and John Dollard. Teachers are among the most influential figures in a person’s life, so understanding the best ways to help students learn is instrumental to their future outcomes. Behavioral learning instructs teachers to use reward and consequence to shape behavior, while cognitive learning instructs teachers to model behaviors by leading through example. The bible speaks volumes on the importance of learning, as church leaders were called (and are still called in Judaism) “Rabbi,” which means teacher. Each theory lays the foundation for the next, and the more information gained incurs a better understanding to human behavior. Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Essay Studying learning theories is fundamental to understanding human behavior. Learning theories can help explain what makes organisms behave the way they do, and how to manipulate behaviors. Behavioral learning theory observes behavior with an objective view and notes that behavior is learned through the environment, while cognitive learning theory states that learning is done through observation and imitation. Teachers would use behavioral learning by conditioning students to behave in desired ways, while modeling the behaviors they expect out of their students is implemented in cognitive learning. The bible stresses the importance of acquiring knowledge, as it is the fundamental way to understand truth. Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Essay Both theories are beneficial in their own right; however, modern psychology is emphasizing cognitive learning more. It is important to understand the foundation of learning theories, so psychology can continue expanding on how to truly understand an organism’s entirety. History of Learning Theories Behavioral Learning Theory Early learning theorist relied heavily on introspection, which asks individuals to look within themselves and describe their thoughts; however, at the turn of the twentieth century, researchers determined that they could strictly theorize behavior in an objective view (Ormrod, 2016). Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Essay Ivan Pavlov was among on of the first behavioralists, who is noted for his research in classical conditioning through the observance of salivating dogs. Edward Thorndike is another well-known early behavioralist who implemented trial and error assessments with cats in the “puzzle box,” and is also known for his research on the effects of rewards on behavior. Building on the work of Thorndike was B. F. Skinner, who focused on operant conditioning and believed that one could predict an organism’s response with 100% accuracy if there was “complete knowledge of an organism’s inherited behaviors, past experiences, and present environmental circumstances” (Ormrod, 2016, p. 37). Modern researchers are now making distinctions between learning and behavior, while acknowledging that cognition should be examined to get a well-rounded view of learning. Cognitive Learning Theory The foundation of cognitive learning theory is found in the works of Neal Miller and John Dollard who coauthored two books titled Social Learning and Imitation (1941) and Personality and Psychotherapy (1950; Bower, 2011; Ormrod, 2016). Millers’ work focused primarily on the correlation between “psychoanalytic and learning theory formulations of phenomena of anxiety, defense, psychopathology, and personality dynamics” which provided a foundation for “psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral approaches to therapy” (Wachtel, 2010, p. 99). Behavioral and Cognitive Learning Theories Essay Following Miller and Dollard was Albert Bandura, who in the 1960’s, recognized that imitation and modeling shape behavior. Bandura is a primary figure in the cognitive learning theory, who focused much of his work on consequences (Ormrod, 2016). Dale Schunk and Barry Zimmerman’s work built upon Miller, Dollard, and Bandura’s, which focuses on personal agency, expectation, and modeling (Ormrod, 2016). Key Concepts to Theories Behavioral Learning Many behavioralists believe that learning is conditioned, meaning that an organism’s behavior is directly impacted by their experiences.
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