Adult Learning (K. P. Cross)

Scope/Application:

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The CAL model is intended to provide guidelines for adult education programs. There is no known research to support the model.

 

Principles:

1. Adult learning programs should capitalize on the experience of participants.

2. Adult learning programs should adapt to the aging limitations of the participants.

3. Adults should be challenged to move to increasingly advanced stages of personal development.

4. Adults should have as much choice as possible in the availability and organization of learning programs.

Characteristics of Adults as Learners (CAL) model consists of two classes of variables: personal characteristics and situational characteristics. Personal characteristics include: aging, life phases, and developmental stages. These three dimensions have different characteristics as far as lifelong learning is concerned.

Aging results in the deterioration of certain sensory-motor abilities (e.g., eyesight, hearing, reaction time) while intelligence abilities (e.g., decision-making skills, reasoning, vocabulary) tend to improve. Life phases and developmental stages (e.g., marriage, job changes, retirement) involve a series of plateaus and transitions which may or may not be directly related to age.

Situational characteristics consist of part-time versus full-time learning, and voluntary versus compulsory learning. The administration of learning (i.e., schedules, locations, procedures) is strongly affected by the first variable; the second pertains to the self-directed, problem-centered nature of most adult learning.

Andragogy (M. Knowles)

Scope/Application:

Andragogy applies to any form of adult learning and has been used extensively in the design of organizational training programs (especially for “soft skill” domains such as management development).

 

Principles:

1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.

2. Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities.

3. Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life.

4. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.

Knowles’ theory of andragogy is an attempt to develop a theory specifically for adult learning. Knowles emphasizes that adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. Adult learning programs must accommodate this fundamental aspect.

Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: (1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something (2) Adults need to learn experientially, (3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and (4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluation are most useful. Instructors adopt a role of facilitator or resource rather than lecturer or grader.

Experiential Learning (C. Rogers)

Scope/Application:

Roger’s theory of learning originates from his views about psychotherapy and humanistic approach to psychology. It applies primarily to adult learners and has influenced other theories of adult learning such as Knowles and Cross. Combs (1982) examines the significance of Roger’s work to education. Rogers ; Frieberg (1994) discuss applications of the experiential learning framework to the classroom.

Principles:

1. Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student

2. Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum

3. Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low

4. Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive.

Rogers distinguished two types of learning: cognitive (meaningless) and experiential (significant). The former corresponds to academic knowledge such as learning vocabulary or multiplication tables and the latter refers to applied knowledge such as learning about engines in order to repair a car. Experiential learning is equivalent to personal change and growth.all human beings have a natural propensity to learn; the role of the teacher is to facilitate such learning. This includes: (1) setting a positive climate for learning, (2) clarifying the purposes of the learner(s), (3) organizing and making available learning resources, (4) balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and (5) sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating. learning is facilitated when: (1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction, (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. Emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change. evolved as part of the humanistic education movement
Information Processing Theory (G. Miller)

Scope/Application:

Information processing theory has become a general theory of human cognition; the phenomenon of chunking has been verified at all levels of cognitive processing.

Principles:

1. Short term memory (or attention span) is limited to seven chunks of information.

2. Planning (in the form of TOTE units) is a fundamental cognitive process.

3. Behavior is hierarchically organized (e.g., chunks, TOTE units).

Two theoretical ideas that are fundamental to cognitive psychology and the information processing framework.

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The first concept is “chunking” and the capacity of short term memory. Short-term memory could only hold 5-9 chunks of information (seven plus or minus two) where a chunk is any meaningful unit. A chunk could refer to digits, words, chess positions, or people’s faces. The concept of chunking and the limited capacity of short term memory became a basic element of all subsequent theories of memory.

The second concept is TOTE (Test-Operate-Test-Exit); suggested that TOTE should replace the stimulus-response as the basic unit of behavior. In a TOTE unit, a goal is tested to see if it has been achieved and if not an operation is performed to achieve the goal; this cycle of test-operate is repeated until the goal is eventually achieved or abandoned.

Multiple Intelligences (H. Gardner)

Scope/Application:

The theory of multiple intelligences has been focused mostly on child development although it applies to all ages. While there is no direct empirical support for the theory, Gardner (1983) presents evidence from many domains including biology, anthropology, and the creative arts and discusses application of the theory to school programs. He also explores the implications of the framework for creativity (see also Marks-Tarlow, 1995).

Principles:

1. Individuals should be encouraged to use their preferred intelligences in learning.

2. Instructional activities should appeal to different forms of intelligence.

3. Assessment of learning should measure multiple forms of intelligence.

The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there are a number of distinct forms of intelligence that each individual possesses in varying degrees. Gardner proposes seven primary forms: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, body-kinesthetic, intrapersonal (e.g., insight, metacognition) and interpersonal (e.g., social skills). The implication of the theory is that learning/teaching should focus on the particular intelligences of each person.
Script theory (R. Schank)

Scope/Application:

Script theory is primarily intended to explain language processing and higher thinking skills. A variety of computer programs have been developed to demonstrate the theory. Schank (1991) applies his theoretical framework to story telling and the development of intelligent tutors. Shank & Cleary (1995) describe the application of these ideas to educational software.

Principles:

1. Conceptualization is defined as an act or doing something to an object in a direction.

2. All conceptualizations can be analyzed in terms of a small number of primative acts.

3. All memory is episodic and organized in terms of scripts.

4. Scripts allow individuals to make inferences and hence understand verbal/written discourse.

5. Higher level expectations are created by goals and plans.

The key element of conceptual dependency theory is the idea that all conceptualizations can be represented in terms of a small number of primative acts performed by an actor on an object. all memory is episodic, i.e., organized around personal experiences rather than semantic categories. Generalized episodes are called scripts — specific memories are stored as pointers to scripts plus any unique events for a particular episode. Scripts allow individuals to make inferences needed for understanding by filling in missing information (i.e., schema). script theory as the basis for a dynamic model of memory.This model suggests that events are understood in terms of scripts, plans and other knowledges structures as well as relevant previous experiences. An important aspect of dynamic memory are explanatory processes (XPs) that represent sterotyped answers to events that involve analomies or unusual events. Schank proposes that XPs are a critical mechanism of creativity .
Situated Learning (J. Lave)

Scope/Application:

Situated learning is a general theory of knowledge acquisition . It has been applied in the context of technology-based learning activities for schools that focus on problem-solving skills (Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993). McLellan (1995) provides a collection of articles that describe various perspectives on the theory.

Principles:

1. Knowledge needs to be presented in an authentic context, i.e., settings and applications that would normally involve that knowledge.

2. Learning requires social interaction and collaboration.

Learning as it normally occurs is a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs (i.e., it is situated). This contrasts with most classroom learning activities which involve knowledge which is abstract and out of context. Social interaction is a critical component of situated learning — learners become involved in a “community of practice” which embodies certain beliefs and behaviors to be acquired. As the beginner or newcomer moves from the periphery of this community to its center, they become more active and engaged within the culture and hence assume the role of expert or old-timer. Furthermore, situated learning is usually unintentional rather than deliberate.
Social Learning Theory  (A. Bandura)

Scope/Application:

Social learning theory has been applied extensively to the understanding of aggression (Bandura, 1973) and psychological disorders, particularly in the context of behavior modification (Bandura, 1969). It is also the theoretical foundation for the technique of behavior modeling which is widely used in training programs. In recent years, Bandura has focused his work on the concept of self-efficacy in a variety of contexts (e.g., Bandura, 1997).

Principles:

1. The highest level of observational learning is achieved by first organizing and rehearsing the modeled behavior symbolically and then enacting it overtly. Coding modeled behavior into words, labels or images results in better retention than simply observing.

2. Individuals are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if it results in outcomes they value.

3. Individuals are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if the model is similar to the observer and has admired status and the behavior has functional value.

Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, an environmental influences. The component processes underlying observational learning are: (1) Attention, including modeled events (distinctiveness, affective valence, complexity, prevalence, functional value) and observer characteristics (sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement), (2) Retention, including symbolic coding, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal), (3) Motor Reproduction, including physical capabilities, self-observation of reproduction, accuracy of feedback, and (4) Motivation, including external, vicarious and self reinforcement.

Because it encompasses attention, memory and motivation, social learning theory spans both cognitive and behavioral frameworks.

Attribution Theory (B. Weiner)

Scope/Application:

There is a strong relationship between self-concept and achievement. Weiner (1980) states: “Causal attributions determine affective reactions to success and failure. For example, one is not likely to experience pride in success, or feelings of competence, when receiving an ‘A’ from a teacher who gives only that grade, or when defeating a tennis player who always loses…On the other hand, an ‘A’ from a teacher who gives few high grades or a victory over a highly rated tennis player following a great deal of practice generates great positive affect.” (p.362). Students with higher ratings of self-esteem and with higher school achievement tend to attribute success to internal, stable, uncontrollable factors such as ability, while they contribute failure to either internal, unstable, controllable factors such as effort, or external, uncontrollable factors such as task difficulty. For example, students who experience repeated failures in reading are likely to see themselves as being less competent in reading.  This self-perception of reading ability reflects itself in children’s expectations of success on reading tasks and reasoning of success or failure of reading.; Similarly, students with learning disabilities seem less likely than non-disabled peers to attribute failure to effort, an unstable, controllable factor, and more likely to attribute failure to ability, a stable, uncontrollable factor.

Lewis ; Daltroy (1990) discuss applications of attribution theory to health care. An interesting example of attribution theory applied to career development is provided by Daly (1996) who examined the attributions that employees held as to why they failed to receive promotions.

Principles:

1. Attribution is a three stage process: (1) behavior is observed, (2) behavior is determined to be deliberate, and (3) behavior is attributed to internal or external causes.

2. Achievement can be attributed to (1) effort, (2) ability, (3) level of task difficulty, or (4) luck.

3. Causal dimensions of behavior are (1) locus of control, (2) stability, and (3) controllability.

Attribution theory is concerned with how individuals interpret events and how this relates to their thinking and behavior. Attribution theory assumes that people try to determine why people do what they do, i.e., attribute causes to behavior. A person seeking to understand why another person did something may attribute one or more causes to that behavior. A three-stage process underlies an attribution: (1) the person must perceive or observe the behavior, (2) then the person must believe that the behavior was intentionally performed, and (3) then the person must determine if they believe the other person was forced to perform the behavior (in which case the cause is attributed to the situation) or not (in which case the cause is attributed to the other person). Attributions are classified along three causal dimensions: locus of control, stability, and controllability. The locus of control dimension has two poles: internal versus external locus of control. The stability dimension captures whether causes change over time or not.
Cognitive Dissonance ;(L. Festinger)

Scope/Application:

Dissonance theory applies to all situations involving attitude formation and change. It is especially relevant to decision-making and problem-solving.

Principles:

1. Dissonance results when an individual must choose between attitudes and behaviors that are contradictory.

2. Dissonance can be eliminated by reducing the importance of the conflicting beliefs, acquiring new beliefs that change the balance, or removing the conflicting attitude or behavior.

According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance. In the case of a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the behavior.

Two factors affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief. There are three ways to eliminate dissonance: (1) reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs, (2) add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs, or (3) change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent.

Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions. The greatest dissonance is created when the two alternatives are equally attractive. Furthermore, attitude change is more likely in the direction of less incentive since this results in lower dissonance. In this respect, dissonance theory is contradictory to most behavioral theories which would predict greater attitude change with increased incentive (i.e., reinforcement).

Constructivist Theory; (J. Bruner)

Scope/Application:

Bruner’s constructivist theory is a general framework for instruction based upon the study of cognition. Much of the theory is linked to child development research (especially Piaget ). Originated from a conference focused on science and math learning, illustrated his theory in the context of mathematics and social science programs for young children (see Bruner, 1973). Bruner (1983) focuses on language learning in young children.

Principles:

1. Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness).

2. Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student (spiral organization).

3. Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given).

A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to “go beyond the information given”. A theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information.
Phenomenonography (F. Marton & N. Entwistle)

Scope/Application:

The scope of phenomenographic research is focused on learning in higher education. Initial studies focused on student learning experience in reading articles, attending lectures, writing essays, solving problems, and studying; more recent work has examined the cross-cultural aspects of student learning experiences

Principles:

1. Researchers should seek an understanding of the phenomenon of learning by examining the students’ experiences

2. Research about learning needs to be conducted in a naturalistic setting involving the actual content and settings people learn with.

This conceptual framework focuses on the experience of learning from the student’s perspective and is based upon a phenomenological approach to research.The most important element of this framework is that data be collected directly from learners themselves through self-reports and interviews. Furthermore, the content and setting should be those actually involved in learning.