Education: Section One Pespectives

Description paragraphs and evaluation paragraphs for the three perspectives: Behaviourist, Cognitive, and Humanistic. Hope they help =]

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  • Created on: 27-04-09 21:08
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Section 1: Perspectives on Education.
Behaviorists, such as Skinner and Bandura see learning as a process of building associations between
stimuli, responses and outcomes. Behaviorists reject argue that we are all mindless autonoma who
learn only from conditioning. They argue that it is not possible to objectively study people's thoughts,
motives and meanings let alone their unconscious yearning and desires. Any model that attempts this is
unscientific. Only external behaviors can be measured.
Learning in this approach is mainly attributed to classical and operant conditioning. Classical
conditioning was investigated by Pavlov who dogs salivation due to incidental stimulithe ringing of a
bell. He discovered once the dogs associated the bell with food he could make the dogs salivate by
simply ringing the bell. Skinner investigated operant conditioning as he believed classical conditioning
was too simplistic, as it took no account of humans making decisions for themselves.
Skinner aimed to identify processes that made certain operant behaviors more or less likely to occur.
Skinner argued that the key determinant of this was the outcome/consequence of the behavior. Skinner
further developed his theory by developing four different types of punishments/rewards. He
constructed a device called the "skinner box", a cage in which a rat could be placed with a small lever
which the rat would be trained to press, a chute which released pellets of food and a floor which could
be electrified. This allowed skinner to develop his four potential outcomes: Positive reinforcement,
Positive punishment, Negative Reinforcement, Negative punishment, and condition the rats to behave
in a certain way. Bandura demonstrated that observation of a model can cause imitation and learning
of behaviour, which can occur also in the absence of that model.
When applying this to education, Token economies should be considered. This is the rewarding of good
behaviour, and punishment of bad behaviour which is observed by others and behaviour is learnt
through not only a process of conditioning but observation and imitation.
Higgins investigated the theory of Token economies by giving academic rewards to students for their
good behaviour. He found this approach reduced disruptive behaviour and continued to do so even
after withdrawal of the token economy.
Cognitive psychology looks into the internal mental processes which affect behavior and learning,
considering humans as active meaning makers, and concentrating on cognitive mechanisms and
internal structures, through which people perceive the world, organize new information and collate
Piaget developed the idea of schema mental structures which act as frameworks through which the
individual classifies and interprets the world. Piaget argued that as we mature our schema became
more complex allowing us access to more sophisticated understandings and interpretations, and that
central to this refinement is the biological need for equilibrium a state of balance between schema and
the environment. If they do not match up we must assimilate and/or accommodate our schema,
restoring this state of equilibrium.

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Vygotsky was also a constructivist, however whilst Piaget's theories depend on biological stages,
Vygotsky focused more on the role of social interaction. He refers to the gap between actual and
potential learning as the Zone of Proximal Development and argues that the gap can only be bridged
by interaction with other individuals. In this context the teacher's role is to identify each individual's
current level of development and provide them with opportunities to bridge their ZPD.…read more

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Behaviourism can be evaluated on a number of issues, for example methodology, sample, reductionism,
ethics and usefulness.
Behaviourism uses predominantly Lab experiments for its methodology for example Pavlov's
research used a carefully controlled lab environment which allowed Pavlov to identify factors/variables
causing behaviour with less confounding variables. Similarly Skinner and Bandura used Lab
experiments however an issue with this is that these artificial situations lack ecological validity and
thus application to the real world.…read more

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The Cognitive perspective can be evaluated on a number of issues, for example determinism,
reductionism, and usefulness.
Determinism is another evaluative issue with which to compare the two perspectives. The original
behaviourist theories of classical and operant condition are incredibly deterministic saying that we have
no control over our actions and that they are the result external causes, in this case conditioning.…read more

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By recapping prior knowledge at the beginning of the lesson, it
also lightens the revision loads for students as the knowledge will already be fresh in their minds
The Humanistic perspective can be evaluation in terms of reductionism, ethnocentrism, sample,
usefulness and validity.
The main strengths of the humanistic approach is its holistic approach and lack of reductionism as it
considers the student as a unique individual moving the shift from teacher to studentcentred education.…read more

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