Learning is one of the main processes that most organizations can use to learn. adapt to changes that may occur in the environment, In addition to responding favorably to the different types of stimuli that we may encounter. We learn to react, what we like and what we don’t like, what everything is, what it means to us or even how the world works. In the case of human beings, we even use a large part of our life for training and learning, creating institutions like school for this purpose.
Throughout history, professionals who have studied how we learn have developed different learning models in order to understand the mechanisms and processes that we follow, using these models to try to improve the education system. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the major learning models that exist or have existed.
Learn: what is it?
Before focusing on the different models that may exist, it is worth trying to give a brief overview of what it means, in a generic way, to learn.
We understand how to learn the action by which a being (human or not) acquires some kind of information or data from the environment (external or internal to the being itself), through different ways. The fact that there is learning does not only imply that the information arrives but also that the subject is able to perform some type of operation with it, restructure their behavior or understanding of the environment, From itself or from reality.
It should be noted that there are many types of learning, some based on the association between two stimuli and others based on the simple repetition of an exposure to a stimulus.
It should also be borne in mind that although we generally identify learning with the education system, learning and education are not completely overlapping concepts: whereas in education it is expected whether someone or something learns, the act of learning can happen without existence. of this intention. It can be learned for example through exposure to parental role models, By proxy by observation or even on biological or innate aspects as with the imprint.
Main learning models
Below are some of the major learning models that have existed throughout history and have had a great influence at some point in history. Most of them have been applied to the world of formal education or they arise directly from observing how one learns in this environment.
1. Behavioral or behavioral models
At the scientific level, some of the earliest models of learning that existed are based on the theoretical paradigm of behaviorism (which in turn is largely derived from logical positivism). This type of model proposes that learning takes place through association between stimuli, although it also contemplates non-associative learning processes. like habituation or awareness of a stimulus.
Behaviorism as a paradigm does not initially foresee the existence of the mind, or rather does not consider that it can be known by not being able to observe it empirically. even in some cases the mind is seen as the product of action and association, Or directly as a concept referring to something that does not exist. In behavioral models, we can find three particularly remarkable models. In fact, being itself is nothing more than a passive receiver of information.
1.1. classic packaging
The first of these is classical conditioning, which proposes learning by the association between stimuli that generate a reaction or a response and neutral stimuli. Pavlov and Watson are two of the main authors of this theory, in which learning is equivalent to associating the presence of an appetizing or aversive stimulus with a neutral element which ends up generating the same response, condition this on the basis of exposure to the stimulus which generates a reaction for us in itself.
1.2. instrumental conditioning
A second model is Thorndike’s instrumental conditioning, Which suggests learning on the basis of the association of different stimuli and responses, weakening or strengthening the association depending on the practice and whether the consequences are positive or not. We learn that a certain stimulus requires a certain response and that this has its consequences.
1.3. operating conditioning
The third great model is that of Skinner, the so-called operant conditioning. If this is the case, our actions and our learning stem from the association between the actions we take and their consequences, Appear the concept of reinforcers (consequences which favor the repetition of the action) and of punishments (which make it difficult) and being these consequences what determines if and what we will learn. This model is among all behaviorists the most applied at the school level.
2. Cognitive models
Behavioral models suffered from a great difficulty in trying to explain learning: they did not take into account mental activity beyond associative capacity, failing to explain many of the elements that enable learning. This difficulty would seek to be resolved on the basis of the cognitivist model, which explores human cognition as an obvious fact through different methods and assesses different mental capacities and processes. The human being is an active being in learning.
Within cognitivism, we also find various major models, including those of Bandura, the models of information processing and those of cumulative learning of Gagné.
2.1. Bandura’s social cognitive model
Albert Bandura considers that mental processes and the environment interact in such a way that learning takes place from this link. Learning is for this author, at least in the human being, eminently social: thanks to the interaction with others we observe and acquire the different behaviors and the information that we end up integrating into our diagrams. It introduces the concept of observational learning as well as the idea of modeling or even proxy learning as a means of learning.
2.2. Information processing
This set of models proposes that our mind captures, operates and produces information from the medium, work with him through different levels of processing or even according to different memory process.
2.3. The cumulative learning of Gagné
Considered as the general theory of instruction, this theory proposes that we learn by a sequencing of associations specific to classical conditioning.
Robert Gagné proposes to carry out different types of learning, which are hierarchically organized in such a way that in order to be able to carry out one, the previous ones must have been carried out. We first learn the signals, then with the stimuli and responses, the strings of the precedents, the verbal associations, the ways to differentiate the different strings and, on the basis of all this, we have succeeded in making associations and in acquire concepts and principles that we ultimately learn in use. Solve problems.
3. Constructivist models
Although cognitive models value the presence of different skills and mental processes within learning, in this type of model other types of processes are often left out, such as the ability to link newness to what has happened. been learned previously. the role of motivation and self-will to learn from the subject. This is why constructivism arose, focusing on the attitude of the learner and their ability to make sense of what has been learned for that element. fundamental.
In constructivism, it is the learner himself who builds the knowledge he learns, based on external information, his own abilities and the aids provided by the environment.
This is the type of learning model that has had the most prevalence in recent times., To be still today the preponderant. In constructivist models we can highlight these models, again we also find the contributions of various authors such as Piaget, Vygotsky or Ausubel.
3.1. Piaget’s Theory of Learning
Piaget is a very well known name in the world of education. More precisely, highlight their studies on human development in which he theorized the different stages of mental maturation and researched the acquisition of different cognitive skills. It has also generated a theory about how we learn.
In his theory, learning something assumes that the human being performs some type of operation in which the set of cognitive schemas that the subject previously possessed is altered in some way. Our mental patterns form a basic thought structure that we have acquired throughout life, and learning involves new information coming into our system. Faced with the arrival of new products, our plans will have to adapt, Either by expanding to incorporate the new information into the previous pattern (a process known as assimilation) or by modifying it in the event that this information contradicts past patterns (allowing accommodation of the new data).
3.2. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory
Another of the most cited and cited theories on learning and education is that of Vygostky. In this case, sociocultural theory is characterized by assess the importance of providing tailored and child-friendly support so they can learn.
In this theory, we can see how there is a series of learnings that a subject can achieve on his own, another which will never be able to arrive, and a third which, although he cannot arrive. at the moment, yes you can. if you have enough help. It would be in the difference between what the subject can do and what he could do with enough help, the so-called proximity development zone, The point on which formal education should focus.
This model considers the idea of bastida as fundamental, in which the temporary support of teachers, parents or colleagues will allow us to build our knowledge in a way that we ourselves would not realize despite the potential to attain it.
3.3. The assimilation of Ausubel’s meaningful learning
Another of the main theories and models of learning and the last one that we will cover in this article is Ausubel’s theory of the assimilation of meaningful learning. This theory will value the existence of learning by reception, in which the learner acquires information because it is given to him, and of learning by discovery, in which the subject himself investigates and learns according to his interests. In relation to this, it also distinguishes between machine and repetitive learning and meaningful learning.
It is the latter that is most interesting in terms of obtaining quality learning, in which the new is linked to the existing and gives meaning to both what has been learned and the fact of learn. Thanks to this, we can learn and make sense of the representational, conceptual and propositional elements, there is a certain hierarchy when it is necessary to learn the first to advance in the learning of the following ones.
Many other models
In addition to the above, there are many other learning models. For example, the Bruner, Carroll and Bloom models, or the Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Program, these are others of the many examples of authors and proposals on the functioning of one or more different types of learning which must be taken into account, even if they are not as recognized as those mentioned.
- Sanz, LJ (2012). Evolutionary and educational psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 10. CEDE: Madrid