The learning theories I identify most with are the Cognitive Dissonance from Festinger, Social Development Theory from Vygotsky and Constructivism Theory from Bruner. The three theories are related and the share common aspects. However they have their differences. They are in cognitive and constructive approach for learning. Since I’m not teaching, I’m going to identify myself with the teaching practices I’d like to use.
Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger)
This theory states that people need to have consistency among their beliefs, ideas, etc. If they don’t have them, they need to reduce this dissonance by different ways. First, reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs. Second, add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs. And third, change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent. The last one is the most important for learning. The first two don’t make sense for learning because if students don’t change their ideas, they are not learning. So the last way of reducing the dissonance is changing their ideas. That means if the learners have a conflict between the reality and their thought they have to adapt their thinking to the reality and therefore change their beliefs. This is a constant action when learning throughout our life. So in schools what we can do is identify wrong or incomplete ideas of our students and arouse situations where they can see it’s inconsistent with the reality. In this way, they work on meaningful activities to modify their ideas. For example, they they think that that water, ice and steam are different things, but we can use an activity where they manipulate these three elements and realize by themselves that they are the same.
Social Development Theory (Vygotsky)
The social interaction is one of the main aspects of Vygotsky’s theory. First if takes and external role and later is internal. The second aspect of his theory is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). That is people are in the point of “what I can do”, and the next step is “what I can do with help” and the last one is “what I can’t do”. The goal for learning is the middle stage. It will then become the first stage and it’s a circle. This stage can be reached with the help of adults and the social interaction is very important in order to achieve it. This theory totally encourages interaction among students and group working. So in the school it’s better to have the students working together rather than independently. They can help each other and go further in their learning. The teacher also helps them by giving hints and directions.
Constructivism Theory (Bruner)
The main of its theory is that the learning process is active and it is based on the current knowledge of the learners. They interact with the information and transform their knowledge, they are active learners. The role of the teacher is to encourage the students to actively discover new principles. The teacher has to provide the right information so they work on it. The education is designed as a spiral where when they reach new knowledge, what they learn next is built on this current knowledge. So the teacher has to identify the current knowledge of the students, and to provide activities that connect with this knowledge and they can learn something new as well. Student can do experiments in the classroom since they get directions from their teacher and then, they discover something new being an active learner.