I have often thought about how I learn. I seem to learn best with a combination of hands on and reference material as typical of an adult learner. Reading and lecture work well for me but actually trying something gives me the best results. If I get stuck I want something or someone to reference, so I will often move to a constructivist or connectivism form of learning, where I utilize my network of friends, peers, and mentors, or I might use my technologic network of resources such as Wikipedia, LinkedIn or YouTube, then I’m back to hands on cognitive learning.
Of the learning theories and perspectives presented, I think the theories that best describes how I learn would be Adult-cognitive-constructivist-connectivism. Somewhere between the four theories is where I like to oscillate. This is probably because of my current position and stage in life as an older adult with a great deal of experiences to draw upon. I am often learning science subjects (software or computer systems) and I can draw upon my experiences, while the cognitive works well at first but as my understanding progresses I need to move more towards constructivism and/or connectivism to deepen my level of understanding.
A background in Cultural Anthropology and teaching in many locations Including India, also has me leaning toward constructivism. Culture can and does affect how data and knowledge is interpreted. “Since there are many possible meanings to glean from any experience, we cannot achieve a predetermined, ‘correct’ meaning. Learners do not transfer knowledge from the external world into their memories; rather they build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions.” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 62-63)
As I said, I like hands on learning. Which can be a behaviorist form of learning when looked at from a success failure point of view. Failure is also a great teacher. Nothing works better than trying something and failing, reviewing what you did wrong and trying again, maybe a little different this time. “Analogies and metaphors are examples of cognitive strategy.” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 61) A great analogy for me is how a baby learns to stand up, by falling down in every direction until a sense of equilibrium is discovered.
It is important to understand my own learning process in order to be a more efficient and effective learner. Years ago I had a famous bow hunter teach me archery. The first lesson was identifying my lead eye and how binocular vision affected my hitting the target. Your lead eye is more accurate and knowing that helps your accuracy. So too does understanding how you learn, enable you to improve performance. “To teach effectively, you’ve got to know how students learn.” (Laureate Education)
Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71
Laureate Education (producer). (n.d.) An Introduction to learning [Video file].
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