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Learning theories

This cloud has been set up as a space to aggregate and discuss learning theories....

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Gráinne Conole
28 February 2010

This cloud has been set up as a space to aggregate and discuss learning theories.

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Gráinne Conole
7:01pm 28 February 2010

Great link Antonella - thanks!

Gráinne Conole
8:09pm 1 March 2010

Thanks for the link to Edutechwiki Bertrand - lots of useful stuff on there.. keep coming across edutechwiki in lots of different contexts.

Paul Melrose
2:18am 24 March 2010 (Edited 5:23pm 25 March 2010)

Behaviourism & Emotion

That behaviourism is historically embedded with a range of pedagogical approaches seems the only explanation for the continued credit it receives for the success these approaches have when correctly applied, despite the failure/refusal of behaviourism to account for the cognitive processes involved. This error is both interesting in what it says about the continued shortfall psychology leaves educators in, and what it says about the way educators deal with the inherent contradictions of a pre-paradigmatic psychology.

Aside from the unsatisfactory nature of this situation, I am beginning to think that a more significant deficit has occurred by allowing behaviourism to remain tethered to the shadows of its former realm.

I would welcome comments on the following:

Emotion in learning theories has yet to catch up with its older siblings (cognitive theories, social learning theories, etc). Yet emotion is the foundation of motivation, and motivation drives the learner. By their nature, emotions are outside the domain of current cognitive theory. A learning theory that deals with emotions is required and I think behaviourism (revisited) is a starting place. Academics such as Joseph LeDoux (1998) and Antonio Damasio (2000), both writing in the field of emotion and neurology, have connected behaviourism and emotion:

  ‘And as a result of powerful learning mechanisms such as   conditioning, emotions of all shades eventually help connect homeostatic regulation and survival “values” to numerous events and objects in our autobiographical experience. Emotions are inseparable from the idea of reward or punishment, of pleasure or pain, of approach or withdrawal, of personal advantage and disadvantage. (Damasio, 2000: 54/5)’

We would be better served as educators if we cut behaviourism off from its legacy principles and reassigned it the role of addressing emotions in learning, and supplying models that would allow educators to account for emotions in (e)learning.

(I have written more about behaviourism here:


Damasio, A. R. (2000). The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness (New edition.). London: Vintage.  

Ledoux, J. (1998). The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life (New Ed.). New York: Phoenix. 



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