Essay on Humanism, Cognitivism and Behaviourism

2887 Words May 17th, 2011 12 Pages
In this assignment I shall be exploring three theories of teaching and learning. They are Humanism, Cognitivism and Behaviourism. I shall be explaining the main factors of the three theories and then explaining how they can support effective teaching and learning in general and for myself personally in my teaching role. The first theory I shall explore is Humanism.

‘Humanism stresses [a learner’s] interests, individuality and creativity – in short the [learner’s] freedom to develop naturally and from teacher domination’ (Lunenburg p.467).

When teaching a lesson a teacher is more of a facilitator when planning and delivering a lesson. An effective humanistic approach is not one of teacher control (behaviourism) nor does it
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This is in contrast to the third and final theory of learning, behaviourism.

‘Behavioural psychology, also known as behaviourism, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning.’ (
In contrast to cognitivism which depends on enhancing learning through a learner’s previous knowledge and expanding in it, behaviourism is more to do with the conditioning of the learner by the teacher. There are two main types of conditioning when looking at behaviourism and they are:
Classical conditioning – this is the technique in which a stimulus is matched with a response through repetitive behaviour. If I blew a whistle every time that someone smelled their favourite food, they eventually would feel hungry every time I blew that whistle through classical conditioning. In this instance the controlled stimulus is the sound of the whistle and the controlled response is the feeling of hunger when the whistle is blown.
Operant conditioning – this is sometimes referred to as Skinnerian condition as this was discovered by the behaviourist B.F. Skinner. This is split into two sub sections. The reinforcement aspect of operant conditioning can be positive or negative depending on the behaviour of the learner. Praise and direct reward are positive reinforcers

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