Theories and principles of learning and communication.

 There are many different theories of how people learn. We can see the various ways from where learners learn.

Theories and principles of Learning and Communication:

  • Theories of learning: “Most human behaviour is learned observationally through modelling; from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action”. (Bandura’s social learning theory)

I do agree with the theory of Bandura that from initial stage as a child learns by observing the behaviour of his surrounding people and also tries to adopt the same. Then in school, he learns from his peer group which can also be consider as social learning theory.

Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, that is the world and  a person’s behaviour cause each other, while behaviourism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behaviourism.    

  • Piaget  proposed that children’s thinking does not develop entirely smoothly: instead, there are certain points at which it “takes off” and moves into completely new areas and capabilities. He saw these transitions as taking place at about 18 months, 7 years and 11 or 12 years. This has been taken to mean that before these ages children are not capable (no matter how bright) of understanding things in certain ways, and has been used as the basis for scheduling the school curriculum. Whether 

 A learning circle attempts to show Learning in a more fundamental manner, where we learn all the time. So it is a good starting point before coming on to effects on certain Principles of Learning. In Kolb’s Learning Circle some sort of concrete experience in life, worthy of note and adaptation, is followed by a retrospective observation and reflection upon it and then moving on to formalising abstract concepts and generalisations. This leads to a considered change to be tested, which takes place in a concrete situation, and so the cycle carries on. This adaptive system is indeed the learning process, and takes into account different kinds of learning: where there is pragmatism in experience, reflection on the experience, theorising about it (and what might be testable) and activism in testing. (

  Andragogy or Pedagogy

Andragogy has been defined by Malcolm Knowles as “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Knowles 1970). Though many attribute the word to Knowles, it was first used by the German Alexander Kapps in 1833 to describe Plato’s educational theory (Davenport and Davenport 1985) “It was little used until Knowles was introduced to it the 60’s and elaborated on the word in his work, The Modern  (“Andragogy or Pedagogy” Bob Monts, Illinois State University, April 2000)

Practice of Adult Education: Andragogy versus Pedagogy.

  Andragogy differs from pedagogy based upon four assumptions:

1   Pedagogy views the learner as dependent.

2   Pedagogy sees little validity in the learner’s previous experience, 

3    Pedagogy assumes that everyone is ready to learn what society says that they ought to learn.

4    The final pedagogical assumption is that learning is subject centred Andragogy differs, in that it understands education as a process of developing increased competencies. “Therefore the structure of learning is performance-centred rather than subject-centred” (Knowles 1980 pp.43-44)

In “Minds, Brains and Science” John Searle refers to some of the theories we will be covering as “materialist conceptions of the mind” that end up denying “that there are such things as minds”

There are many teaching and learning models in existence, some seem to define what has probably been understood for centuries (De Cecco’s Model of Concept Teaching), while others attempt different approaches (Synetics or the Jurisprudential model). All have relative value even if only to put in to perspective other theories.

There are several relatively contemporary models of the teaching – learning relationship. These are Constructivism, Socioculturalism, Transmission, and Metacognition. These have had a profound effect on teaching practise today but can only be mentioned in passing here due to space limitations. Even so their significance lies in their help in defining what teaching and learning is about.


In the early twentieth century, John B. Watson, declared that human beings “should be studied like any other animal.  “Behaviour” should be observed like the phenomena in all other natural sciences.” Minton (2002) “Teaching Skills in Further & Adult Education”  He also declared, that a behaviourist could not observe “anything that can be called consciousness sensation, perception, imagery or will. Experiments were to be confined to objective observations of the results of stimulus and response.”

For the sake of objectivity decision making was effectively ignored, as was thinking it through. While some behaviourists, such as Tolman, accepted that ‘goal seeking’, ‘the will’ and other attitudinal terms were important. The majority thought that they could not be part of the examination/criterion-referencing system. Later other Behaviourists fine tuned the theories, most notably Skinner who argued that “a learning process is accelerated by reinforcement”, via conditioning “Skinner believed that you could predict behaviour- you could control the process of learning and shape the behaviour as you wished”…. He also believed that a technology of learning could be devised. So teachers should not be learning by experience but ‘Teachers need the kind of help offered by scientific analysis of behaviour.’  Minton (2002) “Teaching Skills in Further & Adult Education”

The Cognitivists:

The Cognitivists were concerned that students should learn how to analyse problems and to think for themselves with an aim of becoming independent learners. The tutor’s role was to aid a student, through “inquiry teaching”, to discover things for themselves. It is the process that takes place in order to understand something that is of importance. The setting of goals, the description through “advance organisers” of what is to be learned, and an emphasis on feedback, these characteristics underpin this theory and can be seen as a prominent feature of in contemporary teaching practice.( Minton (2002) “Teaching Skills in Further & Adult Education”)

  The Humanists

“Humanistic theories” of learning tend to be highly value-driven and hence more like prescriptions (about what ought to happen) rather than descriptions (of what does happen).

 They emphasise the “natural desire” of everyone to learn. Whether this natural desire is to learn whatever it is you are teaching, however, is not clear.

  • It follows from this, they maintain, that learners need to be empowered and to have control over the learning process.

So the teacher relinquishes a great deal of authority and becomes a facilitator.

  • The school is particularly associated with
  • Abraham Maslow (psychologists),
  • John Holt (child education) and
  • Malcolm Knowles (adult education and proponent of andragogy).
  • Insofar as he emphasises experiential learning, one could also include Kolb among the humanists as well as the cognitive theorists.

At many situation while working with learners teacher use to adopt haumanistic approach. I used to do in my experience. Many times learners intrinsic motivation

David Kolb’s model of the Learning Cycle (LC) refers to the process by which “learners” deal with and come to terms with their experiences, and by doing so change their behaviour. The LC is based on the idea that the more often we reflect on a task, the greater the opportunity to modify and refine our efforts. The logic of the learning cycle is to make many small and incremental improvements, which constitute major improvements over time.


The LC contains the following four stages:

1) Experiencing immerising yourself in the task

2) Reflection: what did you notice?

3) Conceptulization : what does it mean?

4) Planning : what will happen next? what do you want to change?

Honey and Mumford defined four styles, based loosely around the four stages of Kolb’s cycle: Activists, Reflectors, Theorists and Pragmatists.

Ten principles of learning are:

  1.  Learners need to know where they are going and have a sense of progress towards their objectives.
  2. The learning environment has to be one of trust, respect, openness and acceptance of differences.

3    Being aware of and owning the responsibility for learning lies with the learner.  Others can only give information and support, and provide feedback

4  Learners need to participate actively in the learning process.

5 Learning should be related to and use the learner’s experience and knowledge.

6  Learning is not only a basic capability but also a group of skills which can be developed and/or learned.

7  Facts, concepts and skills are learned in different ways.

8  Getting ideas wrong can be a valuable aid to developing understanding.

9  For learning to be processed and assimilated, time must be allowed for reflection.

10  Effective learning depends on realistic, objective and constructive feedback. (Ref.

Theories of Communication:

Communication is a two-way process of giving and receiving information through any number of channels.  Whether one is speaking informally to a colleague, addressing a conference or meeting, writing a newsletter article or formal report, the following basic principles apply:

  • Know your audience.
  • Know your purpose.
  • Anticipate objections.
  • Present a rounded picture.
  • Achieve credibility with your audience.
  • Follow through on what you say.
  • Communicate a little at a time.
  • Present information in several ways.
  •  Develop a practical, useful way to get feedback.
  • Use multiple communication techniques.

Communication is complex.  When listening to or reading someone else’s message, we often filter what’s being said through a screen of our own opinions.  One of the major barriers to communication is our own ideas and opinions. Communication can be influenced by environment. Communication may be oral, visual or written.

          People learn best when (Silverman et al. 1998):

                    • they  are motivated

                   • the learning is relevant, in context and matches their needs


One Response to “Theories and principles of learning and communication.”

  1. shaivilsme05 Says:

    Good Reena!
    I like the design. For the next step, can you elaborate on what YOU think about these theories?

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