In this video, we are going to be presented to a classroom setting in India, where Ms. Bhuvneshwari is teaching English to a primary grade. The class consists of about 24 student.
The teacher is teaching English language to her students in a very impressive didactic way. The lesson is titled “Have Your Garden”.
The following snippets are chosen because of their inclusion of some functional learning theories, for example, “Behaviorism”, “Social Cognitive”, “Information Processing”, and “Constructivism”, through which we can see how a teacher can adopt different learning theories in one classroom in a reciprocal reactions with her students.
From my perspective and throughout approaching various learning theories, these four theories are the most significant learning theories for being practical, pragmatic, applicable, and effective in the learning process.
Main Concepts of the Selected Theories:
1- Behaviorism: A theory which explains the behavior of human and animals in terms of conditioning.
2- Social Cognitive: A theory based on the idea that people learn from one another through observation and this done by environment, behavior, and cognition in a reciprocal triadic relationship.
3-Information Processing: A theory based on the idea that the human mind transforms sensory information that comes from the environment. It focuses on attention, perception, encoding, storage, and retrieval of knowledge.
4-Constructivism: An epistemology or a philosophical perspective which emphasizes that individuals construct much of what they learn based on their prior knowledge.
Snippet # 1: Encoding
In this first snippet, the feature is related to “Information Processing Learning” theory, where the teacher helps her students to encode the information or to give a meaning to the information by putting it into a meaningful context, and this is done by dividing the students into groups. Each group has a given name which represents something exists in the garden, like for example, flowers, trees, vegetables, and birds. In Information Processing theory, encoding (semantic) is one of the components of the two-store dual memory models, which requires paying attention to the information and practicing it to get it into the memory. It is related to long-term memory, to which information is transferred and activated when it is coded. Encoding in long term memory seems to be semantic coding by meaning. (Mcleod, 2007). This technique is very useful in storing and remembering the information easily.
Snippet # 2: Elaboration
Although the idea of previous knowledge is connected more to constructivism theory, yet, elaboration is a model of information processing theory, so one can say that in this part, the theory is referring to “Information Processing Learning” seeing that the instructional purpose of the teacher is to elaborate on the students’ prior knowledge by asking them “if they knew all the things that are found in the garden”. She stimulates them to recall a similar thing they’ve encountered in the garden to expand upon new information by filling the missing parts in the garden. Elaboration is the process of expanding upon new information by connecting it to previous learning and experience, which helps to facilitate learning. The more connections the instruction process establishes between new and previous information, the more deeply it is stored in long-term memory. (Lutz & Huitt, 2003). As a result, the information can be easily recalled.
Snippet # 3: Imagery
In this clip, we are viewing a model which is related to “Information Processing Learning” theory. The teacher incorporates visual image to expand the learning skills of the students by visually representing the garden as an image on the blackboard as well, a sort of a game, through which she breaks the lesson into small components. The technique of visual iconic increases the students learning, helps them to combine pieces of data into unit, and remember the information easily because visual imagery can be recalled much easier than abstracts and is considered a strong memory aiding techniques. In addition, it enhances the effectiveness of not only the teaching, but also the learning process. Imagery is one of the important tactics to focus the attention of the student to specific important information (Surgenor, 2010).
Snippet # 4: Modeling
Following up of Bandura’s theory, this concept is related to “Social Cognitive” theory. The teacher displays a demonstration to be observed by her students, in order to imitate her technique when they fill the missing parts of the garden. Modeling is one of the major theoretical features of the social cognitive theory, which implies that students learn through observing certain behavior or effective modeling. Through modeling others, children can develop their skills and performance (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). Modeling is one of the dynamic strategies to engage students in learning and gives them a kind of comfort when engaging in a new assignment.
Snippet # 5: Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation is the ability to produce certain behavior for external rewards such as money or praise. (Brown, 2007 as cited in Kendra, 2016). The teacher has a purpose to engage the students in the class activities, so she stimulates the students through using a reinforcing technique to produce the behavior she desires, as she informs her students that those who will fill more missing parts in the garden will be the “winners”. In addition, whenever the students do any positive action, she employs a kind of verbal motivation as “clapping her hands”. This is a typical of an extrinsic motivation promoted by “Behaviorism” theory. Motivating the students provides them with the essential energy and enthusiasm to be able to participate in the class activities.
Snippet # 6: Peer Work
Throughout the whole class and in this particular snippet, the teacher is boosting the technique of peer work by providing opportunities for students to actively work in groups, encouraging peer interaction, and discussion, a concept that is related to “Constructivism” theory, which emphasizes the efficiency of cooperative learning in maximizing and constructing the knowledge of the students by means of discussing and exchanging ideas and experience from one another. A model of Vygotskian classroom would feature teacher-student interaction and student-student interaction as students are engaged in discussion, research collaboration, and problem solving. (Ozer, 2004 as cited in Callender, 2009 ). Thus, reciprocal student-teacher in education has proved to be effective in promoting students’ teamwork and communication skills.
Snippet # 7: Constructivism
Constructivism is an approach where the educator’s role is to use prompts, questions, and direct explanations to guide student thinking and increase responsibility for the completion of a task (Fisher & Frey, 2010). In the above snippet, we are presented to a typical scene of constructivism. Throughout the whole class, the students are always active and not passive learners. They are constructing what they learn based on their prior knowledge or making connections between old knowledge and new information with the help of the teacher, who asks them, for example, if they know “Noughts and Crosses” game, then requests to frame questions and answers in groups and on their own, so they begin to take the role of the teacher, who only ensures that the students are constructing the required knowledge. This untraditional system of delivering knowledge is the core concept of “Constructivism” theory, in which learners create their own learning; while the teacher facilitates their understanding by modeling the activities in a reciprocal teaching method and through manipulation of materials. One of the major approaches of constructivism is shifting roles; students and teachers exchange their roles as teacher and learner; therefore, creating a more student-centered class in the learning environment.
Snippet # 8: Attention
Maintain the attention of the students is considered a very important and functional teaching method (Cox, n.d.). From this specific snippet, one can wrap up the technique employed by the teacher in order to grasp the attention of the students. This concept belongs to “Information Processing Learning” as well to ‘Social Cognitive” theories, where the teacher moves around the classroom while students are engaged in their seat work. Moreover, the whole class setting promotes “Eye-catching” through the simple nice design of the classroom activities. The teacher does not speak in a monotone. She utilizes very simple teaching materials and aids. Such techniques contribute to simplify the teaching and learning process and help to achieve positive outcomes.
Snippet # 9: Retrieval
Retrieval becomes much better when practicing in real-world scenarios and linking to context (Connie, 2012). In this final snippet, the teacher is applying the retrieval technique, one of the components of the two-store model connected to “Information Processing Learning” theory by giving her students an assignment “to imagine and draw a picture of their own garden, then to write five sentences about it”, which requires them to express what they have learned in their own way. The instructional method of retrieval provides the students with additional learning and practice, which enhance the retention of information.