This article seeks to give an answer to the question of why should teachers know teaching and learning theory.
Teaching is a very important profession. Society relies on teachers to nurture and mold responsible citizens who will be instrumental to the growth of society. For this reason, professional teachers are required to have certain certifications and training to prove their competence.
To become a teacher, you are expected to have undergone a series of training in education that will enable you to gain experience and understanding of humans, both young and old in order to know how best to relate with each individual while teaching.
As a teacher, it is one thing to teach and entirely another thing to make sure every member of your class is carried along. Oftentimes, sometimes try to exonerate themselves from the poor performance of a pupil/student. In situations like that, an unprofessional teacher will make comment like “It’s not my fault that he’s not performing well in class. After all, Boy B is in the same class with him and performs extremely well.” This might be a logical thing to say but as a trained teacher, it is not appropriate.
As an educator, you are expected to understand that no two students are alike, and the way every person learn varies. For every individual our brains are all unique, and our experiences all contribute to the different ways we learn.
An important part of teacher education is understanding different ways of learning. This is why this article will be addressing why teachers should know about teaching and learning theories.
WHAT ARE TEACHING AND LEARNING THEORIES?
Teaching and learning theories, which are collectively known as educational theories, are the tools that the teachers use to disseminate knowledge and make the teaching process easier. These theories are vital for teachers to understand the physical and mental behaviours of students. It provides teachers with the best methods to achieve their educational objectives.
Students learn best when their mental abilities match the activities that the teachers assigned in their classes or when the method of teaching suits their capability.
TYPES OF EDUCATIONAL LEARNING THEORIES
There are many educational learning theories that educators can utilize to help them enhance their classrooms and help make the environment conducive for every student in the classroom. Teachers who understand these theories can use different techniques in their classrooms to accommodate every child to learn better and perform well.
THEORIES EVERY PROFESSIONAL TEACHER SHOULD KNOW
Below are 5 main theories every professional educator/ teacher should know:
1. Behaviourism Learning Theory
This theory has it that how a student behaves is based on their interaction with their environment. In other words, student’s behaviors are influenced by external factors rather than internal factors. In behavioral learning theory, inner factors which may include inherited traits from parents have little or no influence on their learning.
Teachers who use this theory may provide students with either positive or negative reinforcements in the classroom. Oftentimes, negative reinforcement in this regard serves as a motivation to the students and not a punishment.
For example, if you have a student who habitually comes late regularly to school and misses first periods, a negative reinforcement can be you telling the student that he/she would only be allowed to play during break time if they never come late to school again. Other forms of behavioral theories include:
- Guided practice
- Regular reviews
2. Cognitive Learning Theory
Cognitive theory understands that learners can be influenced by both internal and external factors, including how a student’s environment and inherited traits from their parents influence their learning abilities. Cognitive learning theory is mainly focused on the way people think. According to this theory, students can gain more control over their learning and behaviour if they understand how their thinking impacts those areas of their lives.
Using cognitive learning theory in the classroom requires teachers to give students opportunities to ask questions, answer and fail as well as thinking out loud.
To use this learning theory in class you can introduce the following strategies:
- Discussions: Group discussion exposes students to understand other students’ perspectives of things.
- Visualizations: Visualizing makes it easier for students to remember new things and review materials from previous weeks or months.
3. Constructivism Learning Theory
This theory suggests that each student is unique with a different approach to learning. Hence, learning can also be unique for each person. The theory is based on the idea that students actually create their own learning style based on their previous experiences. In other words, students take what they are being taught to add to their previous knowledge and experience to create a personal workable learning style.
Here are a few strategies you can apply if you intend using this theory:
- field trips
- research projects
4. Connectivism Learning Theory
This is the most recent learning theory that supports the belief that students learn when they form valuable connections with each other or connection with their roles, hobbies, goals.
To use this theory, teachers can discover what excites her students and consciously get them to form a connection to such things, thus helping them learn.
5. Humanism Learning Theory
This theory is closely related to constructivism. It equally suggests that successful learning is impacted by self-love or interest in a given skill. Teachers who use this learning theory are likely to focus on engaging students’ intellectual, social and practical skills. Here some useful teaching strategies in humanism:
- Cooperative learning
- Differentiated learning: This leaves a student to make a choice on which activity to engage in from a list of options.
WHY TEACHERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING AND LEARNING THEORIES
A class contains students with different backgrounds, personalities and ways of thinking. To deal with such diversity, a teacher needs to be aware of what teaching strategies to use in order to accommodate every student as well as have an idea of how to deal with each student’s learning challenge.
As a teacher, you might naturally go into the profession with a teaching style that suits you but doing that will only defeat your responsibility as a teacher which is to ensure that your students perform well academically.
In summary, teachers ought to know about different learning theories for the following reasons:
- To understand that there are many different types of learners and each has a different style of learning.
- To learn to adapt to different learners.
- To incorporate different styles of teaching for a more interesting learning environment.
- To understand how to support, motivate and inspire all students to succeed in class.
As a teacher, it can be frustrating to give in your best to teach and in the end students perform poorly. Sometimes, it’s neither your fault nor that of the students. It may just be that you haven’t found out the learning approach that works best.
After all, people learn in a variety of ways, responding to different strategies and styles.
Having a knowledge of teaching and learning theories will enable you to identify and apply effective teaching methods which in turn helps your students to learn better. An understanding of learning theories helps you as a teacher to connect well with different kinds of students in your class. If you are an educator, you need to pay more attention to these teaching and learning theories.