Learning Theories Reflection

Learning Theories


When this course first began eight weeks ago I anticipated that there would be magic learning theories that could be acclimated to all learners. Just like a plug and chug statistical math formula, I expected that learning theories would offer me as a future Instructional Designer obvious learning theories or strategies that would be simple to implement to learners with different learning styles. As the weeks went on, exposure to learning theories and rationales behind them, I found it surprising that learning styles are a derivative of other factors related to the brain resulting in how people learn.

This course intensified my personal learning process in a number of ways. I think it is important to fully understand how and why people learn the way that they do. I can empathize with any learner that is misunderstood or considered to be student not capable of learning. Looking back over my academic career teachers, instructors, including professors only used 1 learning theory to teach, which is the Behaviorist Theory. “The behaviorist learning theories emphasize changes in behavior that result from stimulus-response associations made by the learner. Behavior is directed by stimuli. An individual selects one response instead of another because of prior conditioning and psychological drives existing at the moment of the action (Parkay & Hass, 2000).” The behaviorist theory negated to look at the inner workings of the brain, which is a vital component to understanding and implementing learning styles to include all learners. Personally I am a visual hands on learner, which until know has never been addressed. As educators at any level, I find it a disservice to all learners not addressing or taking into account learning styles.

The connections between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation are fundamental. It’s obvious to me that as humans we have to continue to learn and adapt to the evolving world around us. With each passing year new technologies are being developed and changing the world in which we live professionally, socially, and domestically. What I found striking regarding learning styles and strategies is how the brain and motivation play a significant role in the learning process. Depending where you are in life weather being a student in grammar, secondary, high school, college, or graduate school etc. the motivation for learning will different at each level in many ways. Based on the intrinsic and extrinsic values people are learning for different reasons. It is extremely important to understand those reasons to make the connection of motivation regarding learning and learning styles. The learning theories are behaviorist, cognitive, constructivist, social, connectivism, and adult learning. As we continue to educate ourselves and educate others we will utilize these theories based on motivation and desire of the educator and the student. The motivation and desire for an adult vs. a student in high school are completely different. The motivation to learn for an adult may be to advance his/her career or to obtain a promotion, on the other hand a high school student may view his/her education a trivial and at that age they fail to see the true relevance in educations because of the development of the brain. High

School students simply view education as hoops to jump through to make it to the next level weather its college or the work force. To make the connections between these polar opposites, we have to look at the brain and maturity of the individual. These are which I consider where we are in our stages in life and the pursuit success.

This Learning Theories course will help me further my career in the field of instructional design in many ways. As an Instructional Designer I think it is extremely beneficial to be knowledgeable of learning theories and learning styles because it provides the framework in which instruction can be designed. Success as an Instructional Designer is having students that succeed. If we are able to truly understand their needs and how they learn or their motivation, we can provide an extraordinary learning environment. The meaning of the word “Educate” is to draw out. As Instructional Designers we are charged with the responsibility to bring out the best in our students and understanding how and why they learn is a step in the right direction.


Parkay, F.W. & Hass, G (2000). Curriculum Planning (7th Ed.) Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon



Patrick Hopkins

Fitting the Pieces Together

Fitting the Pieces Together 

Based on all of the learning theories and the place I am in my life, I can best identify with Connectivism and Adult Learning. Looking back on week one I believed I identified best with the Constructivism Learning Theory because it equates learning with creating meaning from experience. If you look at the five assumptions underlying Andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn) describes how I currently learn. The assumptions include:

  • Independent self-concept and who can direct his or her own learning
  • Accumulated a reservoir of life experiences that is a rich resource for learning
  • Learning needs closely related to changing social roles
  • Problem-centered and interested in immediate application of knowledge
  • Motivated to learn by internal rather than external factors (Merriam, 2001,p5)

I have learned over the past weeks that learning styles evolve. Based on where you are in your life, your learning style will change. I think its silly to think that every person has only one learning style. Based on my research learning styles will vary based on the criteria. For example, if you are required to take continuing education courses for promotions or increase in pay your learning style will become more internalized because of motivation.

Technology plays a tremendous role in my learning. Looking back over the mind mapping exercise gave me an eye opener as to how much technology play a role in my personal learning. The use of blogs is tremendous assets because it allows me share what I have learned and gives me an opportunity to express opinions based on my understanding of material that I have studied. Secondly blogs allow me to cross reference subjects that I am currently studying and provide a forum to express differences of opinions openly. With the use of e-books and the Walden University online library really make research quick and easy without wasting a lot of time and resources.


Patrick Hopkins


Learning Connections

My network connection changed the way in which I learn in many ways. Through online research, educational resources, and communities of expertise and interest, people can easily access information and find relationships that support self-directed learning. Through social media, people can form relationships with peers that are centered on interest, expertise, and future opportunity in areas of interest.

There are a number of digital tools that best facilitate learning such as The Walden Library, Blogs, classmates and YouTube. The Walden Library provides me with a virtual library at my fingertips. On the library’s home page the user utilize search and find, which can connect the user with access to course reading, articles, e-books, pertinent databases, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines and journals for research. Also the Walden Library provides the users with the assistance of a librarian by phone or by e-mail if questions need to be answered. Under the help and guide menu the user can utilize webinars, receive technical help and save and organize data. Secondly blogs have fundamentally changed the way we use the Internet, from mostly information consumers to information creators and contributors (Du & Wagner, 2007). Blogs differ from discussion boards because blogs are controlled and owned by the bloggers and are primarily centered on and identified with their author or authors, rather than around specific topics. Blogs invite users to share, create, and interact in a virtual space through writhing and commenting on each other’s post to generate knowledge. Thirdly, interacting with classmates facilitates learning with the sharing of information and differentiated points of view through the use of the courses discussion board, student lounge, and Skype.  My peer group enables me to access information, seek different points of view, and opens the door to useful debates. Finally, YouTube has been instrumental with my on-line learning experience. YouTube provides access to online tutorials, seminars, discussions, and lectures from prominent professors. YouTube has been instrumental in bridging the gap between university and students taking courses online.

Using all of the above mentioned digital tools allow me to gain new knowledge to my questions. Through digital tools I am able to gain multiple perspectives on outstanding questions, which allows me to drawn the best conclusion base on collaboration with my peer group and professors.

My personal learning supports the central tenets of connectivism by making learning a socially enacted process, promotes my principles in learning. Connectivism is the application of network principles to define both knowledge and the process of learning. Knowledge is defined as a particular pattern of relationships and learning is defined as the creation of new connections and patterns as well as the ability to maneuver around existing networks/patterns. Connectivism focuses on the inclusion of technology as part of our distribution of cognition and knowledge. In my network the information that is acquired is worth exploring with my social learning community. To “learn from experience” is to make
a backward and forward connection between what we do to things and
what we enjoy or suffer from things in consequence. Under such conditions, doing becomes a trying; an experiment with the world to find out what it is like; the undergoing becomes instruction— discovery of the connection of things.

John Dewey “Democracy in Education,” 1916


Du, H. S., & Wagner, C. (2007). Learning with weblogs: Enhancing cognitive and social knowledge construction. IEEE Transactions of Professional Communication, 50(1), 1–16.