During the course of “Learning Theories and Instruction” that I took as part of my masters degree program with Walden University, I discovered that the learning process is complex and individuals cannot be categorized into one particular learning style. However, the most surprising idea I found during this course is that learning processes are continuously under research and even the old learning theories such as behaviorism or cognitivism are still challenged by new findings or new theories that incorporate more elements such as the social interactions, technology, rich learning environments, problem-based learning, or a combination of different theories and strategies.
Understanding the different elements of the learning process has deepened my knowledge about my own learning process. Previously, I was not fully aware why I struggled so much while I was in university grasping new concepts, which were very abstract and difficult to relate to pre-existing concepts. But now, I understand that the typical educational model where the learners are passive recipients of information is not the best learning setting for me. To have an effective learning process I prefer to be in a learning environment where I can construct knowledge based on practical experiences with components of the social learning theory such as discussions with peers, sharing information with others, team work, analyzing different points of view, and reflecting throughout the entire learning process.
Another concept that I understand better now is the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. According to Ertmer and Newby (1993), “learning theories provide instructional designers with verified instructional strategies and techniques to facilitate learning as well as a foundation for intelligent strategy selection” (p.50). And this is why it is important to understand each theory, taking the best practices and strategies from each one and using them in the instructional systems when necessary.
Additionally, instructional designers should consider different strategies when designing learning experiences to accommodate different learning styles. By doing this, there will be a rich learning environment for learners, offering options to explore content in different ways, using a variety of methods that are going to create an engaging learning experience, and are going to motivate the learners. To achieve this rich learning experience I would consider the use of technology as a tool to create content in different ways and to support interaction between the learners and the instructor with the use of social media, forums, sharing ideas on wikis, reflecting using blogs, accessing information on websites, videos, and different multimedia sources.
I think it is important to keep researching and reviewing information about how the brain processes information, learning theories, multiple intelligences and how they can be developed using a variety of instructional strategies, the use of technology in instructional settings, and how to create rich learning environments to boost motivation levels in education. As instructional designer I would also help learners to consider effective learning strategies that could be used in any educational situation such as metacognition, elaboration, comprehension monitoring, and mnemonics (n.d.).
Studying more about learning theories and instruction will help me in my career as instructional designer because now I am more aware of the instructional strategies that can be more suitable to different learners, what tools to use in order to increase motivation, and what learning strategies should be promoted among the learners to ensure an effective learning process.
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.). Learning styles and strategies [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu