Education Theories in Learning Process

Introduction

Learning is a very paramount process that entails the acquisition of new knowledge. Learning can pose a challenging activity for some people; hence, the use of learning theories to guide the process. Research has made attempts to indicate the efficacy of most of these theories and an individual is required to identify the learning theories that apply to his/her learning habit. In the contemporary world, learning has gone a notch higher to include self-regulated learning that is executed using the internet, for example, in the case of distance learning and one will often learn on his/her own with no or minimal assistance from an instructor. This process where one is his/her instructor requires one to understand the essence of metacognition, and how to utilize metacognition to become a strategic and self-regulated learner. The first task as indicated in the outline will focus on this element of self-regulated learning. Subsequently, the paper will describe online collaborative learning, which is a form of self-regulated learning, and lastly, I will talk about the learning strategies that enable me to become a successful self-regulated learner.

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Self-Regulated Learning

Self-regulated learning is a concept that focuses on the agentic role of a learner, and it refers to “setting one’s goals concerning learning and ensuring that the goals set are attained” (Efklides 2011, p. 6). Until the era of the computer, learning entailed memorizing and reproducing information given to others: basically, downloading information without comprehending it. However, the era of advanced computers linked to online learning gave rise to learning strategies that emphasize self-regulated, for example, online learning.

Self-regulated learning (SRL) is student-centered. It involves the formulation of learning goals and laying out feasible and effective learning strategies on how to achieve these goals. Also, self-regulated learning entails a favorable context in the form of a quiet and orderly environment. This self-regulated learning process comprises cognitive, motivational, and contextual domains. Self-regulated learning cannot be achieved without metacognition, which controls all the elements aforementioned because it forms the platform for SRL.

Metacognition enables a learner to think about other thought processes because it entails monitoring one’s regulated learning process (Zumbrunn, Tadlock & Roberts 2011). Whereas the cognitive processes of memorizing, organizing, and rehearsing, are useful to achieve success, the meta-cognitive strategies are involved in foreseeing the fulfillment of these cognitive processes through setting goals; one has to know why they are memorizing or rehearsing. Planning enables an individual to think about ways of achieving these goals. Continual monitoring and evaluation of one’s self-initiated process help to determine any needed changes. This monitoring approach of the brain governs the control function, which entails knowing which strategies to adopt, and which to discard to achieve one’s learning objectives (Efklides 2011).

The use of metacognition to gain control of one’s abilities and resources is an effortful process that requires motivation. Hence, as an Arabis teacher, I should use pedagogical approaches that encourage self-regulated learning, for example, the use of group discussions and open online chats. Metacognition is an important constituent of academic success. Metacognition enables learners to plan, control and evaluate learning, and these processes enable the learner to perform better (Sadeghi, Hassani & Rahmatkhah 2014). Sadeghi et al.’s (2014) study on the effect of the metacognitive process among EFL learners revealed that learners who adopt metacognitive strategies to comprehend their learning goals and content related to these goals are the best performers.

Self-efficacy is an important driver for SRL because it entails the confidence an individual has concerning a particular outcome. Pajares, Britner & Valiante (2000) indicate that the outcome of getting a certain reward or certain grade is an adequate motivating power that enables an individual to invest substantial effort with diligence in the pursuit of the expected outcome.

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Zimmerman (cited in Zumbrunn et al. 2011) was the pioneer of the SRL theory, and he proposed a synergistic model comprised of three phases: forethought phase, performance phase, and self-reflection phase as shown in the figure below:

performance phase

To encourage SRL, as a teacher, I will help my students and trainees to layout individual goals. Students are different; thus, different students will embrace different learning strategies to help accomplish these goals. In addition, motivational activities should be identified for each student, and students with similar thoughts can be grouped to form study groups. Students should be guided when faced with a dilemma because of the motivation factor which is thwarted by frustration when one cannot seem to get answers or a solution to a particular problem. For example, it is typical for students or trainees to feel uncomfortable about a new topic; thus, as a teacher, I should not use this to nail the students down because they may never make any steps towards accomplishing SRL. In this case, the teacher, or experienced students can help their peers. In addition, the teacher should not use this as a basis to sideline students that may struggle with the SRL process and instead concentrate on adaptive people or those with SRL experience (Alvarado 2013).

These study groups will not be pegged on discussing learning topics; rather, they will entail sharing thoughts and experiences meant to inspire fellow group members. These groups can be formed online using a class portal. As a matter of fact, these groups are very effective in the self-evaluation process because students will learn best from each other.

Online Collaborative Learning

Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) emerged from the advancing/evolving constructivist theory. OCL entails the teamwork process of students to create knowledge aimed at solving problems, rather than reciting the information obtained from literary materials. OCL appreciates the presence of the teacher as a link between the students and the attainment of knowledge. OCL incorporates the theories of cognitive development whose focus is to provide a learning environment with teaching, social and cognitive aspects. In the contemporary world, which is defined as the computer era, everyone has become a surfer. The internet is the medium through which people interact, learn and gain knowledge; in fact, it is a solution to every problem. However, education has not integrated the internet optimally regardless of the increased use of the internet outside the classroom. Educators need to incorporate the internet to achieve more academic success.

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It is high time that the education arena accepted the use of online supportive structures to foster learning. In comparison to the didactic teaching approach, online collaborative learning is more result oriented. The differences between the industrial age and the knowledge ages highlighted by Harasim (2012) reflect the differences between OCL and didactic learning as illustrated in the figure below:

Age and learning

It is important to note that online discussion forums have exponentially propelled in the last decade due to advancements in the internet.

Based on the OCL principle, knowledge is constructed in three phases as shown below:

Knowledge construction

The figure below represents Harasim’s (2012) graphical presentation of OCL.

Knowledge Community

Online collaborative learning accommodates the divergent thinking of students because it is ongoing. The OCL approach deems literary teaching material as supplemental as opposed to the typical notion that collaborative learning should supplement literary teaching material. This collaborative approach is very beneficial not only in the learning domain but also enables students to learn life skills that are imperative to live outside the virtual learning space.

Unfortunately, an individual’s culture may present a major challenge for OCL because students who have a background of the authoritarian, teacher-based approach may feel restricted to sending materials online without seeking approval from the instructor. Yet, the main idea of OCL is to share ideas and perceptions with fellow students, as well as receive opinions and feedback on one’s written ideas for the sake of improvement. OCL is part of the wider online learning system. Alongside OCL, the other models of online learning are Online Distance Education and Online Courseware.

The diagram below represents the differences between the three constituents of online learning.

Online learning

Knowledge is generated through discipline norms and discourse processes on OCL. It adopts a collaborative approach that is defined by shared learning and responsibility. This approach should be distinguished from the cooperative that entails divided responsibility that is combined later to delineate the complete picture. This means that OCL entails the collective use of knowledge and thoughts to handle a task without assigning it to a particular person. This is the main distinguishing criterion between OCL and the other two online learning models. The OCL model is a model that integrates the meta-cognition approach to construct knowledge because all the elements of setting goals, planning for effective means to achieve these goals, and evaluation to determine achievement, are all reflected in this model.

Personal Learning Theory

In the current world where self-regulated learning (SRL) is an integral part of one’s educational life, it is paramount to understand one’s own learning styles and habits. In this task, I will evaluate my learning approaches about my profession as an Arabic teacher and trainer about various learning theories. Thereby, I will know what works for me, and what does not work.

One learning approach that does not work for me is excessive punishment because it tends to release a negative emotional response, and I get frustrated. As a result, I may be forced to retreat for some time. For example, after putting so much effort to prepare a paper, and then I receive all negative feedback, and no single positive feedback, really puts me down. Punishment is effective if sparingly used while appreciating the positive aspect of an assignment. If I receive some negative comments while taking note of the positivity of a completed task, the punishment is genuine. On the other hand, too much negative feedback seems ingenuine.

Response cost is a strategy that is effective for me. When I am aware of the consequences associated with a particular outcome, I tend to work hard to avoid the cost associated with a negative outcome; it may be a poor grade or withdrawal from a sponsorship program.

The environment I am in is a paramount determining factor. If I am in a noisy and chaotic environment, I will not achieve much unlike when I am in a quiet space. In addition, I benefit most from a learning environment where all students are treated equally, and the teacher or facilitator does not assume that all students are intellectually equal: some students may be more informed than others, and others may be fast learners compared with others.

I appreciate learning that has a practical orientation approach. In addition, this practical approach should be commensurate with my learning objectives. For example, in the event of enhancing my counseling skills to enhance my career, I will learn better if I am exposed to different counseling needs that require varied counseling skills. This is under Bruner’s and Vygotsky’s interaction theory of cognitive development (Driscoll 2005). According to these theorists, education entails more than the drill and kill method referred to by Alvarado (2013). The environment is fundamental in shaping the cognitive phenomenon of various individuals.

Over time, I have realized the importance of metacognition because it not only helps me to perform well, but I can comprehend the requirements of a task, articulately, and be able to apply it in a real-life situation. I will not deny that it is a brain wrecking process, but very rewarding too. Metacognition helps me to identify my learning potential, and each time I have to perform a task, I regard it as a skill-accruing opportunity. There are various ways through which I have learned to accrue knowledge and skills following Driscoll (2005) as indicated below.

Enactive Stage Iconic Stage Symbolic Stage
Utilizes motor skills Utilizes imagery and perception Utilizes familiar concepts
Examples are a counseling session, Carrying out online research, making a presentation Examples include report writing, graphical representation of ideas Examples include keywords when performing a literature search, or symbols such as = to mean equal to or $ to mean US currency

What works best for me is the use of audiovisual material with relevant content. I never forget, and until now, I recall some of the audio and audiovisual content I learned years ago. This is a scaffolding approach that presents concepts in various methods.

Group activities that work for me are those that have a competitive component. This enables each group to adopt a collaborative approach to perform better than rivaling groups. Alternatively, a purpose-led group activity also works for me in comparison to a routine discussion group with the same people all the time. The latter breeds contempt and, often, the group tends to stray away from the actual cause.

Long hours of self-regulated learning do not work for me. I usually get exhausted, and I do not function optimally. This can be supported by Vygotsky’s illustration of the ‘zone of proximal development (Driscoll 2005, p. 392). I work best when I have breaks in between learning to relax. Authors such as Alvarado (2013) reinforce the essence of recess, but response cost is what drives my learning because often I find myself with deadlines that I have to meet. As a result, I find myself reading for long hours that take a toll on my performance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, learning theories are important in guiding the learning process. The self-regulated learning approach will be successful when individuals utilize metacognitive skills when studying. Online collaborative learning is an effective online strategy for individuals who may not have time to meet in a physical, tangible space. This learning model encourages peer learning and confidence in expressing ideas. I will incorporate these new learning models into my learning theory to enhance my learning strategies, and I hope it works for me.

References

Alvarado, S 2013, Personal Learning Theory, Web.

Driscoll, MP 2005, Psychology of Learning for Instruction, Pearson, Toronto, ON.

Alvarado, S 2013, Personal Learning Theory, Web.

Efklides, A 2011, ‘Interactions of Metacognition with Motivation and Affect in Self-Regulated Learning: The MASRL Model’, Educational Psychologist, vol. 46, no.1, pp. 6-25.

Pajares, F, Britner, SL, & Valiante, G 2000, ‘Relation between achievement goals and self-beliefs of middle school students in writing and science’, Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol. 25, pp. 406–422.

Sadeghi, B, Hassani, M, & Rahmatkhah, M 2014, ‘The relationship between EFL learners’ metacognitive strategies, and their critical thinking’, Journal of Language Teaching and research, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 1167-1175.

Zumbrunn, S, Tadlock, J, & Roberts, E ‘Encouraging self-regulated learning in the classroom: A review of the literature’, Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Harasim, L 2012, Learning Theory, and Online Technologies, Routledge, New York/London.

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