Modeling learning

Written by: Josh Rosenberg

Primary Source: Joshua Rosenberg

I recently read an article by Bruner on “Models of the learner” which sparked my thinking about what a “model” is and how learning is “modeled” in theories of learning. I found it helpful to think of models of learning as simplified representations of aspects of the theories and how they are related.

Behaviorist “models” of learning were useful for explaining and predicting behavior and learning, but they failed to explain and predict things not caused by stimuli. Likewise, according to those with a sociocultural perspective, cognitive models are useful for explaining and predicting behavior and learning, but it does not explain so well how and why context affects individuals. A lot of present debate on theories of learning concerns an open question — whether the cognitive or sociocultural model is better at explaining and predicting behavior and learning. Is the best model the one that combines aspects of both?

Bruner, J. (1985). Models of the learner. Educational Researcher, 5-8.

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Joshua M. Rosenberg is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. In his research, Joshua focuses on how social and cultural factors affect teaching and learning with technologies, in order to better understand and design learning environments that support learning for all students. Joshua currently serves as the associate chair for the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Special Interest Group in the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. Joshua was previously a high school science teacher, and holds degrees in education (M.A.) and biology (B.S.).