This semester, I learned various
approaches and theories behind knowing and
learning in math and science.  The class and I were able to
categorize the class content into three categories: cognitive development,
learning environments, and learning theories. Each category contains the
essential aspects that I learned from this course to become an educator.

Learning theories describe how a
learner understands, handles, and retains knowledge. The four theories are
behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, and connectivism. Behaviorism
emphasized that learning is the producing preferred behaviors. Behaviorists
measured, changed, and trained the behavior of subjects through conditioning. Classical conditioning
uses automatic response behavior to some stimulus while operant conditioning
uses consequences to shape voluntary behavior. Constructivism focuses on the learner owning the knowledge through
personal experiences and their reflections of them. I like that the students
are in charge of figuring out the problem and are thus more likely to
understand. They can reflect, extend and transfer ideas based on what they
experienced. Cognitivism focuses on
the mind and the mental processes like thinking, knowing, memory, and problem
solving. Cognitive development has so much information and research that it is
a separate category. Lastly, connectivism
is a learning theory that gives insight to tasks and learning skills needed
for learners to thrive in modern times. Technology
has made it easier for us to use online resources to obtain knowledge and be
connected to the online community. Although there are advantages and
disadvantages for each theory, a balance between the four theories serve as a
solid foundation of learning.  

Cognitive development is the study of cognitivism. It had four pioneers: Piaget,
Vygotsky, Erikson, and Kolb. Piaget
was a psychologist who established the first cognitive theory. He created the Stages of Cognitive Development, which
consisted of the sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and
formal operational stage. The sensorimotor stage starts with newborns
and toddlers; they gain knowledge by playing with objects. The pre-operational
stage is when the child can speak and can understand a word’s meaning, which
happens between ages two and seven. At the concrete operational stage, kids not
only think symbolically, but they think more logically too. However, they
sometimes fail to understand abstract concepts like conservation. From
adolescence and into adulthood, people are able to see alternate solutions to
problems and think more scientifically about the world.
The other parts of Piaget’s contribution were schema and adaptation. Schemas are grouped pieces of knowledge that
help us to interpret and understand while adaptation is the process of adjusting a schema
because of new knowledge. Adaptation includes assimilation,
accommodation, and equilibrium.  Assimilation
incorporates a new situation into an existing schema while accommodation either adjusts an existing schema to fit the new
situation or creates a new schema. When
new information goes through assimilation without any difficulties, it is
called equilibrium. Cognitive dissonance, which is discomfort stemming from two
conflicting beliefs, occurs during disequilibrium. But the child can restore
equilibrium by either creating a new schema or ignoring the new information. Overall, Piaget’s theory mainly
focused on the specific learning development a child goes through from birth to
adolescence.