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Education: Understanding learning

Learning is a continuous process with no clear beginning and ending. One’s time at school is formative and crucial towards shaping the intellectual capacities. Teaching as a profession is an important aspect of learning in that necessary skills are imparted to the teachers. This essay focuses on what I have learnt throughout the course and how this has reshaped my ideas about teaching, learning, and assessment.

Developing a professional knowledge base

Each profession has particular ideals, norms, and standard code of regulations and ethics that members must adhere to. The course has equipped me with the basic tenets of the teaching profession. It has imparted me with a solid foundation that the teaching career is a noble profession. I have learnt that in teaching it is important for one to develop a professional knowledge base. This will equip them with skills to handle situations and achieve desired outcomes in a professional manner. A high degree of professionalism should be displayed by teachers in the course of their duties and in their relationships with others. In doing this, various theories have been proposed to guide in developing aspects of professionalism.


I have learnt about the role of cognition theories in teaching and learning. Cognition emphasizes on the role of mental processes in shaping behavior. Cognitive theories were proposed by Swiss Psychologist, Jean Piaget who identified four stages of development, which an individual undergoes from birth to adulthood (Effective Teacher 2010).

Piaget’s conceptions about the different stages, which suggests different levels of attainment for a person in each stage has re-shaped my ideas as a teacher because I now recognize that people have different levels of attainment depending on their stage of development. This has helped me in terms of designing appropriate content for each of these groups bearing in mind that they process information in different capacities.


I have also learnt about behaviorism which attaches great significance to the external environment in the shaping of behavior. The teacher therefore is charged with a lot of responsibility under behaviourism. Behaviorism is divided into two: classical and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning was proposed by a Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov who suggested that involuntary responses can be induced in organisms through a process of conditioning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The aspects of classical conditioning have been helpful in my teaching experience in that I have been able to condition the desired behavior from my students. I have for instance been able to condition students in my lessons such that during all lessons they know what to expect.

Operant conditioning on the other hand proposes that human behavior can be controlled and thereafter predicted. This was based on the work of psychologist, BF Skinner who recommended the use of positive reinforcement to reinforce desirable behavior and negative reinforcement to discourage undesired behavior from being repeated (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). The principles of operant conditioning have had a big impact in my teaching and learning career in that I now recognize that the best way to make a person to do something is to make such a person want to do it. I now employ the use of positive and negative reinforcement in the classroom situation.

Cognitive learning

Cognitive learning suggests that those around like, teachers, parents, and friends influence the cognitive development of a child. Children therefore gain from interactions with members of society who are more knowledgeable regardless of the age differences (Effective Teacher 2010).

Lev Vtgotsky who provided many insights in teaching, learning did much of the work in cognitive theory and assessment.Vygotsky’s ideas have nowadays been adopted in classroom settings. He identified language as an important tool for pursuing intellectual activities as it is a means of thinking, solving problems and a mode of delivering knowledge (Effective Teacher 2010). What I have learnt about cognitive learning has had a lot of impact in my thinking. This is because I do utilize principles of cognitive learning. This involves the use of language as a mode of instruction and of interaction with learners and with professional colleagues.

Constructing knowledge

This was adapted from the constructivist theory as proposed by Lev Vtgotsky that holds the view that the learner is an active participant in the learning process. Accordingly, the learner constructs own knowledge based on previous experiences. This has greatly reduced the role of a teacher in the classroom as the learners discover new knowledge by themselves (Patsula, 1999).constructivism has revolutionized teaching, learning, and assessment in various ways.

Constructivism has influenced my methodology as a teacher. Having learnt that learning is effective when the learner becomes an active participant, I have organized content in such a way as to accord my students a chance to express themselves through engaging in practical sessions and consequently generating new knowledge on various topics under my supervision. In terms of assessment methods, I have greatly changed my assessment methods whereby I no longer rely solely on written examinations as a means of gauging achievement. I have included the assessment of new knowledge generated by the learners.

Research findings have shown that the use of constructivism approach develops high critical thinking abilities on the part of learners (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Under the use of constructivism approach, I have adopted the use of a wide variety of teaching resources to stimulate the learning environment. My ideas have also changed in that I now believe that the new technologies should be harnessed and utilized in the teaching and learning process.

Theories of motivation

Motivation is a process through which a desired activity is sustained through a number of approaches (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010). Motivation is an important aspect in the teaching and learning environment. Studies have shown that learners who are motivated in any way perform better than those who are not. I have consequently been motivating students who perform to the expected standards through giving rewards and tokens of appreciation.

Classroom management and individual differences

The course has taught me principles of effective classroom management. This has been helpful in that it has enabled me deliver my lessons effectively. I have learnt class control techniques such as being fair and firm in dealing with learners. This has been useful in setting a conducive environment for learning and teaching in the classroom situation.

I have also learnt about individual differences and their impact on the learning environment. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who recognized that there are a set of differences in individuals that are innate, advanced the concept of catering for the learners individual differences. Consequently learners needs and motivational capacities vary and instructional approaches should be designed while keeping this in mind. As a teacher, the course on individual differences has influenced my teaching methods in that I vary the teaching methods that I use to cater for the needs of most learners.

The concept of individual differences has also affected the way assessments are conducted. This is because current assessments are done while considering the fact that people are different and have different levels of attainment.

Creating positive environments

A conducive environment is always necessary for any meaningful instruction to take place. Positive environments can be achieved in the learning situation through a combination of approaches but mostly through meaningful interaction between teachers and learners. This have been useful to me in that I have been able to interact in a positive way with learners and professional colleagues

The course has been beneficial to me in that it has widened my understanding about teaching, learning, and assessment. I have learnt about the principles and practices under cognition, behaviorism, cognitive learning, motivation, classroom management, individual differences, and creating positive environments. Knowledge under these topics has helped me become a better and effective teacher.


Eggen, P., & Kauchak, D (2010).Educational Psychology, Windows on Classrooms. (8th Ed). French’s Forest: Pearson.

Patsula P.J (1999). Applying Learning Theories to Online Instructional Design. Seoul: Sookmyung Women’s University.

The Effective Teacher 2010 and Beyond. (2010).What Does It Take To Be An Effective Teacher In The Year 2010 And Beyond?. Retrieved from http://effectiveteacher2010.blogspot.com/. January 30, 2010.