Orientations/Theories of Learning
Negative experiences in the past can cause new information to take on a negative light in the mind of the learner. The teacher must be aware of this tendency and help the learner attempt to overcome this bias. The teacher should seek to discover positive past experiences to tie new learning to in order to make it more valid in the life of the learner.
Can you give an example of this?
Of the five orientations to learning, which do you believe has the most applicability to the field of andragogy? Justify your answer.
Andragogy refers to the education of adults (literally – man-learning) as opposed to pedagogy referring to the education of children (literally – child-learning). The five orientations of learning are behaviorist, humanist, cognitivist, social learning, and constructivist (sometimes called critical reflection).
Two of these orientations are very applicable to the field of andragogy.
The humanist stresses the following themes. The learner impacts and determines what is taught based on his/her felt or perceived needs. Experiential learning is a key strategy in humanist teaching. Teaching is student centered where teachers act more as facilitators rather than dispensers of knowledge. Problem solving is a key strategy and the ability to think critically and solve problems is valued over the simple acquisition of facts. Finally, a foundational belief is that the education process must conform to meet the needs of the student rather than forcing the student to conform to meet the needs or convenience of the educational process.
Constructivism is the other orientation with benefits for adult learners. Constructivism involves the learner in the planning stage of education and focuses on problem-solving, communication and creative skills rather than memorization. An aspect that is pertinent to adult learners is the belief that new information is shaped by past knowledge, experiences and relationships. Some key strategies in Constructivism are problem solving skills, experiential learning, self-directed learning, reflection and group/social learning skills.
Both of these orientations include excellent strategies that apply to adult learners. Both emphasize experiential learning and are focused on the student rather than the content. Both stress the importance of problem-solving skills. I believe constructivism is slightly more applicable because of its belief that new knowledge is hugely impacted by past experiences, relationships and knowledge. In children this would not be as important a concept because children have had far less life experience. Adults, however, bring to the classroom decades of life experience. These can build both positive and negative pathways to acquire new knowledge. Negative experiences in the past can cause new information to take on a negative light in the mind of the learner. The teacher must be aware of this tendency and help the learner attempt to overcome this bias. The teacher should seek to discover positive past experiences to tie new learning to in order to make it more valid in the life of the learner.