There are many theories to support how learning occurs and here we will consider three of them:
Behaviourist learning theory
The behaviourist theory emphasises the idea of active rather than passive learning. In other words ‘learning by doing’. The emphasis is on providing feedback to motivate the learner and reinforce the desired performance or learning outcome. Providing praise and feedback on part or all of a skill where competence is gained (positive reinforcement) is motivating to the learner and it is more likely for them to want to learn new skills and competencies.
Cognitive learning theory
The cognitive learning theory stresses the need for learners to put into context their learning and new information and to relate this to what they know already. It links to their aptitude and capacity to learn. Students therefore need to be exposed to scenarios where they engage and refer back to earlier experiences either in the practice setting or drawn from academic knowledge and theory.
Humanist learning theory
The humanist learning theory provides more emphasis on recognising the need for personal choice and ensuring the learning experience is aligned to the learners own goals. It suggests that there is an innate desire to learn and that the learner should be empowered and have control over their learning. Instead of having a teacher role one of facilitating learning is adopted using this approach.
Resources for further reading
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