Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Module 2 Blog Post

This blog post is in response to two conversations linked below on cognitivism and behaviorism among three important thinkers: Bill Kerr, Stephen Downes, and Karl Kapp.

Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism are learning theory _isms that do not stand still, according to Kerr. “They evolve; they listen to criticism, and move on.” I think it is important to keep this in mind, especially with the use of technology, because as new technologies are developed, discoveries are made on innovative learning ideas, prompting learning theories that may have been labeled as outdated to be rediscovered. Connectivism, the learning theory of the digital age, has evolved out of the other three theories mentioned.

The idea of humanizing machines, rather than dehumanizing humans relies on Cognitive Information Processing (CIP), an important concept to build upon as referred to by Downes with his rejection of behaviorism and support of cognitivism. The human mind is more complex than any computer system and to study human behaviors and cognitive processes is critical to meet all learners’ needs.

One learning theory alone does not describe how all learners gain new knowledge and apply this new knowledge in different situations. As stated by Kapp, “We need to take the best from each theory and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for all learners.” Each learning theory also relates to Bloom’s Taxonomy levels of intellectual behavior, beginning with the lower levels of learning and extending to higher order thinking skills and learning:
Behaviorism: memorize, recognize, label
Cognitivism: procedural, rule based learning
Constructivism: problem-solving, collaboration, creativity
Connectivism: cyclical, filtering, construct

Original Blog Posts:
Bill Kerr’s Blog
Karl Kapp’s Blog

Additional Learning Theory References:


  1. Excellent use of Bloom's Taxonomy learning steps. Learning thoroughly occurs when an individual can move from lower level order cognition to an higher order in a subject area or learning focus.

  2. LeAnn,

    Great post. I am still relatively new to the ideas of Bloom's Taxonomy so the examples you provided helped me a lot. (My background is in IT, so a lot of the educational theories are very new to me.) Do you believe that any one of the ism's is dominant in today's educational environment. There seems to be a consensus that no one ism is the "right" answer, and that the best approach is a combination of them. However, even in a combination there is often times more of one ingredient.

  3. Hello Grace,

    Thank you for your comments. As you mentioned, the best approach is a combination of all the _isms, where all learning theories are of equal importance to meet all learners’ needs. However, the one theory that is more dominant, at least in parts, and not because it is necessarily the best one, is CIP (Cognitive Information Processing) because of NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Teachers spend so much time preparing students to take high-stakes tests that most of the learning is only stored in working-memory, and when applied in different situations besides a test, the students do not have the knowledge needed in long-term memory. In the high-tech world we live in, I hope the constructivism theory gains more importance and becomes more dominant.

    LeAnn :-)