Humanistic Learning Theory Essay Example

Essay on Learning Theory

Nowadays, probably as never before, scientists are extremely interested in the process of learning. Naturally, a number of different theories aiming at the explanation of this process were developed. It is quite difficult to decide what theory is better and more successful. On the other hand, we can say that all of them have to be analyzed in order to help us realize the main trends in learning theories. It will lead us to our own view on this problem as well as to understanding of what we should take into consideration in bringing up and educating of children. Recently, there have been created a number of theories, which are quite popular now. In my paper, I am going to pay a particular attention to two of them, namely to behaviorist and humanist theories.


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First of all, it is necessary to say that both behaviorist and humanist theories are to a certain extent linked to each other in such a way that “some may accept many humanistic beliefs but work for organizations that require the employment of training approaches that are primarily behavioristic by nature” (Gagne 1995:76)1. At the same time, these theories differ significantly but still they have to be taken into consideration as two different views on one and the same problem. In order to underline that these theories are noteworthy it may be said that such well-qualified and famous specialists worked on these theories as Albert Bandura, Hans Eysenck, H.B. Skinner, who are representatives of behaviorist theory. As for humanists, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and George Kelly may be named as main representatives. Speaking in details about these theories, it is necessary to say a few words about basic ideas of each of them and then it would be possible to trace the differences. So, the cornerstone of the behaviorist theory is “a careful observation of behavior and environment and their relations” (Gagne 1995:143)2. Their principle methods of research are quantitative and experimental methods.

Behaviorists pay much attention to the person’s experience and at this point they are close to humanists who also believe that experience is extremely important. We may single out three basic principles of behaviorist views on the learning, namely they are: a) the idea that behavior positively reinforced will reoccur, furthermore, intermittent reinforcement is particularly effective; b) information should be presented in small amounts so that responses could be reinforced; c) reinforcements will generalize across similar stimuli producing secondary conditioning (Gagne). Generally speaking, we may define behavioristic views as deterministic. It means that a person’s free will, self-determination, being so important for humanists, do not play a significant role in the learning process. Unlike behaviorists, humanists believe in personal self-determination, freedom of choice, and self-actualization, which Maslow defines as “the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc” (1970:134)3. Moreover, humanists believe that the learning process should be focused on the personal development which would lead to a positive self-awareness and the purpose of education is defined by Patterson as the development of self-actualizing persons. Thus, we may say that for humanist personal characteristic are of a paramount importance and play a defining role in person’s abilities to learning and development while behaviorists stay on the ground that a person depends on external circumstances, such as their social environment, status, etc. It means that according to behaviorist theory a person constructs his or her knowledge and acquires and retains skills under the influence of external factors and his or her behavior in different circumstances. On the contrary, humanist theory makes a person’s self, his or her striving for self-awareness and self-actualizing determining factors in person’s construction of knowledge and acquisition of skills.

On comparing two theories, behaviorist and humanist, I would primarily singled out some similarities between them, among which is the idea that learning should focus on practical problem solving. Also both theories emphasize that in the instructional planning the educators should take into consideration personal experience, abilities, and skills. Furthermore, they pay a special attention to the learning environment which should “allow each learner to proceed at a pace best suited to the individual” (Hollis 1991:51)4. Other important things are learners’ conscious self-assessments and their feedback to the learning process. And finally, the experience of learners is an important source for the further learning. Consequently, it stimulates “enhancing the value of advanced organizers or making clear the role for mastery of necessary prerequisites” (Hollis 1991:52)5. Thus, it is obvious that both behaviorist and humanist theories have some common principles but, as it has already been mentioned, they remain to be quite different in their views on the learning process.

So, speaking about the differences, it is necessary to say about the preferences of humanism to rationalism and emotionalism compared to behaviorist’s empiricism which plays a very significant role for this theory because it is based on empirical observation of behavioral peculiarities. Also the attitude to the information perception is quite important, since humanist theory tends to search for whole patterns while behaviorists prefer to search for single events or parts. At the same, time humanist theory is information processing oriented while behaviorist theory emphasizes information acquisition. And, generally speaking, the attitude of these theories to the learning process itself is also quite different. As a result, for humanist learning is the process while for behaviorist learning is the end product. One of the consequences of such a contradiction is humanist’s goal of learning is to learn how to learn while for behaviorist the basic is acquiring of knowledge. Probably the list may be continued but, in my opinion, these are the principle differences, which may be found in humanist and behaviorist theories.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, I come to the conclusion that humanist and behaviorist theories have to be developed but, on the other hand, they could be better if they were not so contradicting to one another. That is why I think that the learning process, being a very complicated phenomenon, had to be studied from different points of view that will permit us to understand better the process of person’s development and his or her construction of knowledge and acquisition of skills.

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Behaviorism, Cognitive, and Humanistic Essay example

906 WordsNov 26th, 20124 Pages

Behaviorism, Cognitive and Humanistic All Summed Up
Janice M. Brown
Aspects of Psychology
Professor Trego
November 8, 2012

Behaviorism, Cognitive, and Humanistic

Behaviorism, cognitive and humanistic are all perspectives (or theories) of psychology. Behaviorism is a perspective that suggests that all behaviors are learned. What I mean by that is according to John B. Watson who founded the school of psychology, suggests the behaviors can be measured, trained, and changed. [ (Cherry, 2012) ] Based on article written by Kendra Cherry, behaviorism is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning and there are two major types of conditioning which are Classical conditioning and Operant…show more content…

Cognitive psychology is a pure science based mainly on laboratory experiments and began to revolutionize psychology in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and became the dominant approach in psychology by the late 1970’s [ (McLeod, 2007) ] according to Saul McLeod. An example of the cognitive perspective would be when one learns to take blood pressure. First you must learn how to manipulate the blood pressure manometer, learn how to hear blood pressure sounds and understand the meaning of the sounds. As each time you practice these activity, you will gain more confidence and competence in performing the task. The strong point of this perspective is that it mostly uses rigorous scientific methods and the approach has had many practical applications. The weakness of this perspective is that it is to simplistic. It ignores the complexity of the human function, biological influences of the human function and it ignores the emotions, conscious experience and free will.
Humanistic perspective is a psychological perspective popularized by Carlo Rogers and Abraham Maslow that emphasizes the human capacity for choice and growth. This perspective offers a very positive viewpoint of human nature and potential. It suggests that we are each responsible for our own happiness and well-being as humans. “The humanistic approach emphasizes the personal worth of the individual, the centrality of human

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