‘Comparing Learning Theories: Cognitive and Social Constructivism’
Bigge and Sherms assert that the key theories of learning include behavioral principles, cognitive and social constructivism (Bigge and Sherms 1). This paper pays a special focus to cognitive and social constructivism theories as well as the overall effect that these theories exhibit on matters of classroom learning and curriculum practice. It is important to note that cognitive and social constructivism theories are similar in several ways on one hand while the theories also demonstrate a substantial amount of difference of another (2). In relating the two theories to the classroom learning experience of a child, distinct approaches will be adopted with a view to rendering the clearest understanding about classroom learning practice.
First, the cognitive theory as expounded by Jean Piaget embodies the processes that take place in the mind that include the acquisition of skills like the developmental phases of language (Singer and Revenson 13). Other mental processes have also been confirmed to include internalized actions in an initiative that draws a close relationship between the thought process and the perceived actions. Piaget explains that the cognitive theory is a product of a map-like creation in the mind that brings together knowledge and physical actions (15).
Schunk emphasizes that the social constructivism theory explains that individuals make progress in the society by utilizing the process of learning as an active work of the mind (Schunk 2). This theory emphasizes that a person is most likely to construct or develop a whole sphere of knowledge as they interact with the life experiences (4). This aspect has been perceived as a fundamental departure between the cognitive and the social constructivism theories (Singer and Revenson 18). This is in the sense that whereas the cognitive theory has teaching as a basis for mental processes, the social constructivism theory emphasizes learning as an active continual process that accrues from life experience and not as a product of any passive teaching mechanisms (Schunk 3). The social constructivism underscores the fact that learning is by itself a process that is social dependent in nature and that within the classroom circles, learning occurs by way of interaction. This is distinguishable from the cognitive theory in that social constructivists emphasize on biological elements or other environmental aspects that impact on a person’s learning process (5). In essence, constructivists such as Vygotsky assert that biological factors and environment enable for varying effects on classroom learning processes. The two theories are similar in that they both outlined the crucial nature of building effective relationships within a social set up.
The impacts of the cognitive and social constructivism theories in the modern day to day learning processes are easily discernible. In particular, these are seen in the manner in which most institutions lay emphasis on the formation and utilization of group work or study groups. In classroom practice, the cognitive theory is applied in the approach to have literacy learning that is topic tailored as well as the usage of testing and experimentation in science curriculum (Bigge and Sherms 10). On the social constructivism, the children are categorized into groups during their test or experiment and this allows for effective interaction as well as exchange of ideas as they learn from one another (18).
In conclusion, the cognitive and constructivism theories have a lot of practical influence on the daily learning processes within the educational system. To a greater extent both theories call for maximum interaction and the utility of the mental aspects of a person in order for effective learning to take place. One common factor between the cognitive and constructivism theories is that both formulations have heavily influenced the shaping of the curriculum in the educational system as understood today.
Bigge, M. L., & Sherms, S. S. Learning Theories For Teachers. Boston, (2004): 1-2. Print.
MA: Pearson. Bigge, M. L., & Sherms, S. S. Learning Theories For Teachers. Boston, (2004): 5-18. Print.
Singer, D. Revenson, T. A. Piaget Primer: How a Child Thinks. (1996): 13-18. Print.
Schunk, D. H. Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. Boston, MA: Pearson. (2012): 1-5. Print.
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