30. Activity (Reflective Thinking, Note Taking and Discussion)

This activity is optional. It is presented to facilitate your reflective thinking on the issues. There is no feedback. We encourage you to discuss these with your colleague.

Choosing a Theory of Learning

Entwistle (2010) states:

There are some important questions to ask when considering how much weight to place on evidence or how valuable the theory will be for pedagogy. For example:

  1. Is the theory derived from data or observations in an educational context?
  2. Is the theory presented in language that is readily intelligible to teachers?
  3. Can the aspects identified as affecting learning be readily changed [by the teacher]?
  4. Does the theory have direct implications for teaching and learning [in the particular context in which you are working]?
  5. How realistic and practical are the suggestions?
  6. Will the theory spark off new ideas about teaching?

It is not sufficient for a pedagogical theory simply to explain how people learn; it also has to provide clear implications about how to improve the quality and efficiency of learning.

Using Entwistle’s criteria and your own knowledge and experience of teaching, answer the questions below.

1. Which theory of learning do you like best, and why? State what main subject you are teaching.

2. Does your preferred way of teaching match any of these theoretical approaches? Write down some of the activities you do when teaching that ‘fit’ with this theory.

3. Does your teaching generally combine different theories – sometimes behaviourist, sometimes cognitive, etc.? If so, what are the reasons or contexts for taking one specific approach rather than another?

4. How do you think new digital technologies, such as social media, affect these theories? Do new technologies make these theories redundant? Does connectivism replace other theories or merely add another way of looking at teaching and learning?