How Do You Learn?

Learning, what is it really? As I reflect on some of the ideas that I have going through my head right now, I wonder what direction I am going in? I have such a strong belief in learning and helping my students learn in many different ways, I wonder if I have been falling short by not really knowing my own personal learning philosophy. There are so many things to consider, but I have to understand the types of learning theories before I can help my guide, my students, learning.

After a lot of research, I seem to find myself as a mixture of the three main learning theories. Over the years, I have attempted to find ways to reward and incentivize my classroom. This has been done in many ways; most recently I have incorporated virtual bank accounts to allow students to earn and lose money based on their choices, performance, and behavior. Until now I did not realize what exactly I was doing, but reading about behaviorism has opened my eyes to the shortfalls of this idea. Bates (2014) clearly states that it has been demonstrated in labs that it is possible to reinforce the behavior of students with rewards and punishments. It is also pointed out that students are treated like a ‘black box’ though, and what is happening inside that black box is not important at all. During my 10 years of experience in the classroom, I am aware that this black box idea is not correct at all. I have come to understand that students need to be understood, and I must figure out what makes them tick in order to truly help and guide them in their learning. 

Comparison of Learning Theories Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

While I have shown some behaviorist tendencies over the years, I also continue to use some aspects of a constructivist mindset as well. In a 1 to 1 Chromebook classroom, I would like to think that I am doing a good job of following the notion that Harapnuik mentions (as cited in Jonassen and Reeves, 1996), students should be learning with technology and not learning from technology. One of my goals in my classroom the last couple of years has been to become more student-centered and allow students to take ownership, which conforms to the constructivist theory (Harapnuik, n.d.). 

Although some success has been shown from my behaviorist tendencies, I tend to think that when moving to a blended learning model as I have proposed in my innovation plan, this may be a distraction and take the focus away from what the learning. This model will allow the teacher to become more of a mentor or coach and not the main source of information like so many classrooms. Trending in this direction will provide opportunities for “formative evaluation and feedback within a trusted relationship” which, according to Harapnuik, yields the highest levels of student achievement (as cited in Hattie, 2008, 2011).

And yet, while I have made so many connections to the other learning theories, I also find parts of the cognitivism theory in my classroom as well. Over the years I have tried many strategies to help with the mental side of student learning in the math classroom. Using mnemonic devices and chunking information have helped many of my students learn many skills in a more efficient way (Learning Theories and Models summaries – Educational Psychology. n.d.). These strategies have helped engage my students and can lead to students taking ownership of their learning in the future.

In a review of all that I have learned about the differences between learning theories, I find myself reaching in so many directions for the sake of my students. I am aware of the changes I need to make to my learning philosophy and how I engage learners in my classroom, and also know this is just the beginning of the transformation. As I begin this journey with my students, I need to be willing to be the learner at times as well as the ‘guide on the side’ in other instances. This willingness to allow my students to choose their own path is the first step to creating a significant learning environment to help them become the lifelong learners I want them to be.

Annotated Bibliography

Bates, T. (2014, August 10). Learning theories and online learning. Retrieved from

The author of this article summarizes the main learning theories while connecting them to online learning. He also examines the differences between and the connections of the learning theories to help with the understanding of each theory.

Harapnuik, D. (2016, March 11). Four keys to understanding learning theories. Retrieved from

In this article, the author summarizes his four keys to understanding learning theories and why they are such an important part of what we should focus on for our students. These keys help to focus on the best techniques to intertwine the learning theories that best support learning for our students.

Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). Research: CSLE+COVA research. Retrieved from

The author of this article focuses on the research behind COVA and CSLE. The article is very informative about learning theories and many other areas about student learning.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

This source was cited in the secondary source, 
Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). It’s about learning. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (2011, November 28). Visible learning Pt1. Disasters and below average methods [Video file]. Retrieved from

This source was cited in the secondary source,  
Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). It’s about learning. Retrieved from

Jonassen, D. H., & Reeves, T. C. (1996). Learning with technology: Using computers as cognitive tools. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 6930719). New York, NY: Macmillan.

Learning Theories and Models summaries – Educational Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from

This website is a resource of all possible learning theories. In addition to thorough information on each learning theory, this site also provides videos to gain a better understanding of each learning theory.

Image Reference

Agile Development Blog (2013). Cognitive domain [Image] Retrieved from (2015, September 5). Comparison of Learning Theories [Infographic]. Retrieved from

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