ET: Educational theory and practice
Author Paul F. Sidney (2015) discusses behaviorist learning versus constructivist learning. Sidney addresses the fact that constructivist learning aligns with the new common core standards. The goal is to teach students in way that will better prepare them for the future. In order to do this, real world simulation needs to take place within the class room (p. 02). With the implementation of new technology, it is key that educators learn which style will have the most impact on learners. Sidney goes into the major differences between the two educational theories.
First he explains that the behaviorist view supports the idea that students learn the best through positive or negative reinforcement (p. 03). In other words, if a student remembers what the teacher lectured they will pass, and receive an A, whereas those who cannot will fail with an F. This reinforces student behavior to regurgitate what teachers tell them, versus them actually understanding the course content. Author Sidney asserts that “constructivist …learning constitutes more of a discovery learning aspect and aims students towards conceptual understanding” (p. 04). Constructivist theories are more aligned with the current common core standards. Common core standards want students to develop and construct deeper meaning out of course content. The goal is to have students actually synthesize the information they are being taught.
Although Paul F. Sidney (2015) supports the constructivist theory of learning, he also understands why it is something that cannot just be implemented in the class rooms. He suggests that it is something that should gradually be injected in regular curriculum (p. 07). One major concern Sidney points out is student recall. Behaviorist theories assist students in memorization with repetition and reinforcement. It assists students in the mental storage of newly learned information. Due to this reasoning, Sidney suggests that classrooms implement both theories. This will give students the best of both worlds. They will get real world applicable experience and problem solving skills, they will still have that knowledge reinforced which will foster greater recall (p. 15).
Author Paul F. Sidney did a wonderful job explaining what both constructivist and behaviorist theories were. As a novice to educational theories, this was a great introduction. The article introduces both theories, as well as common core. Sidney explains rather simply how both theories are necessary in order to foster higher order thinking. I like how he didn’t not completely dismiss the behaviorist view in teaching. It is important to recognize that hands on projects might not align with all the students learning styles.
I agreed with the author in that both theories can be implemented, however, this is not something that will happen over-night. It should be a gradual change, which will give students plenty of time to adapt.