In order to complete this assignment research was carried out on the Learning Theories in use within educational establishments in the last eighty years and to say that I was now confused would be an understatement. It was have found through this study that parts of theories that are, supposedly, diametrically opposite to each other, side by side in the classroom. I hold up my hand and freely admit to being a novice in the ways of psychology but I would have thought that this would be impossible.
However, as educational psychology is not an exact science, there is a certain overlapping of the boundaries between areas and a tendency to argue for and against different styles and methods amongst its users. I cannot try to explain the rights and wrongs of each method but I will endeavour to explain, using my own area of teaching, the methods and theories that are used in our classes.
The theories that are used within my teaching environment break down to the following; Behaviourism Categorised by John Broadus Watson (1878-1958) who paralleled the work of Ivan Pavlov (18491936) both these leading psychologists, amongst others, were instrumental in introducing the school of Behaviourism to the general public.
This is the belief that all behaviour is the result of a ‘conditioned reflex’ to stimuli. Both of these eminent psychologists carried out individual conditioning experiments on ‘little Albert’ and ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ respectively. In certain areas of the military ethos we train firmly in the behaviourist style. An airman must be conditioned to move when called upon no matter what the danger at the time.
His or her response to the shouted command must be immediate and reflexive as there may be little or no time for thought.
Within this specific part of the military mindset a persons inherent decision making process is effectively curtailed. Everything they do under these conditions must be drilled into them in the training stages, they must react in a specified manner to the command, and this is true behaviourism. Although, in the military, this is always in the background, this learning theory is used very sparingly in my particular teaching. Its main application is in the area of general safety within the hangar. My teaching environment is a very dangerous place and the main student error is in safety. A failure in this area is inherently dangerous to them and to others in the surrounding area and as an instructor on the hangar floor I must have the ability to stop training with one, shouted, command. As I have already stated the military mindset from an early stage of training is to obey commands immediately and this is used to full effect to prevent injury to the student or damage to equipment.
“The basis of learning is discovery: ‘to understand is to discover, or reconstruct by rediscovery, and such conditions must be complied with if in the future individuals are to be formed who are capable of production and creativity and not simple repetition.” My own interpretation of this theory is that Cognetivism or Constructivism is the building of a student’s knowledge in small observable blocks, each one built on top of his or her own previous knowledge. Each segment of the knowledge must be presented to the student in such a way that they can follow the logical progression from one stage to another, using previously learned skills. Cognetivism is used the most Within my teaching environment in that the overall style of instruction lends itself towards this idea of small achievable steps, building on already learned and digested information. I take the student through the familiarisation lesson on the equipment and show them the equipment in full working condition.
The student has the opportunity to investigate and construct his or her own concept of the equipment. I then fault the equipment and allow the student to find the fault, hopefully using logical steps within the latticework of understanding that they have to build themselves. Humanism Labelled by Carl Rogers (1902-1987) and Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), the latter being more popularly known for his ‘hierarchy of needs’ in the teaching environment. The basic premise is the motivational ‘need’ of every person to develop themselves to the fullest extent possible and those Humans will exist according to a set core of values. In the past my initial teaching method did not include a great amount of this theory, but, that said, my overall teaching style is maturing and certain facets of this style are being included more and more in my teaching.
The one example I can use here is of the nurturing aspect of this theory, I firmly believe in an instructor/teachers role of nurturing the student, guiding them through the education system until they attain the required knowledge needed to pass the course. My style of teaching has changed considerably in the past year. This can be attributed in some way to my involvement with the Cert Ed course and the benefits this has brought due to the diversity in teaching backgrounds of the attending students. The other reason could be, simply, that I have found my own feet as an instructor and allowed my wide and varied life experience to define my teaching style. In doing so I realised that the Humanistic approach was being used more and more in my day to day teaching. I tend to nurture and guide as opposed to shout and direct, a totally new concept within military schooling.
My aim is to produce a student that is mentally proficient and cognitively aware of the basics of problem solving in the aircraft environment. As you have noticed on the 2008 teaching observations the hangar is an extremely fluid and dangerous working area and the students have to be mentally tuned to these dangers otherwise they place themselves and others in danger. Putting a student in this environment who is not ready is a foolhardy undertaking. Part B When research was started for this assignment, the initial thought was that I would, under no circumstances, use Humanist theories in my day to day teaching. I am, after all in the military and we don’t use such theories. I will stand up now and state that I was wrong. I fully believed that we have to adapt the overall style and delivery of a lesson to the particular audiences’ receptive capabilities. It is no use lecturing students on an important safety issue and the information be totally ignored or lost in transit. The stage has to be set, the need for the safety issue must be recognised by the student and it is ultimately up to the instructor to place the student in a receptive frame of mind for understanding, and ultimately, learning to take place. The general atmosphere of the lesson must be correct in order for knowledge to successfully pass from instructor to student.
In general the lessons I teach conform to the cognitive domain. The students are taught in small steps, each one building on previously accumulated knowledge. The students have constructed the framework themselves and fit the information into this lattice. There is one lesson in particular that is applied solely in the behaviourist style, the authorisations lesson, the first lesson the students encounter within my teaching area. This lesson is given in the pure behaviourist format because there can be no ambiguity whatsoever in its delivery. The students have no say at all in the set-up of the lesson, they are lectured throughout on the format of every instructional lesson they will receive in the following twelve weeks. They are expected to take notes to give them a written guide to the correct manner of feedback to the instructor that will be required of them. They are taken through, step by step, all the procedures that they must, correctly, comply with during every lesson. This is by sheer definition the most arduous lesson for both student and instructor. There are a lot of important points for the student to digest and fully understand and it is the most labour intensive lesson for the instructor. Not only has he or she got to get all the information across to the student, it must be understood as this lesson forms the basis for all other instruction within the hangar.