Week 2

EDET 674 Week 2 Essential Question: How do learning theories manifest themselves in online courses?

The three learning theories are behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. As a teacher, I apply all three theories daily. These theories reflect my teaching methods, management, and curriculum design.

The behaviorist learning theory “focuses on that which is observable, how people behave and especially how to change or elicit particular behaviors,” (Moore, et.al, page 31). I use Class Dojo as a way to reinforce positive behavior. Class Dojo motivates students to stay engaged and work hard. If students exhibit negative behavior, points are taken away. This encourages students to stay on task.

The cognitivist learning theory is instructor-centered. “The focus is on the instructor and the instructional design, knowledge is to be transmitted to the learner, either by the instructor or by the instructional software,” (Moore, et.al, page 58). A lot of times in my classroom I use the strategy “I do, we do, you do.” This scaffolding method helps my students understand the process. If I have students who still need that extra help and don’t understand the content, remediation is applied. “If the student’s answer is correct, then the student advances to the next question. If the student’s response is incorrect, then remediation is invoked. This is the behaviorist instructional design,” (Moore, et.al, page 53).

“The constructivist learning theory suggests that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing the world, and reflecting on those experiences,” (Moore, et.al, page 60). I believe I am more of a constructivist. “A constructivist teacher encourages and assists students in constructing their knowledge about a subject rather than reproducing a series of facts about it. The learner is viewed as an active participant in the learning process,” (page 69). In my classroom I take content and make it relevant to the student’s lives by applying those cultural/social connections. Students also use gaming to create and build on their content knowledge, use previous knowledge to solve problems, and reflect on their learning experiences.

How do learning theories manifest themselves in online courses? I believe the three learning theories manifest themselves in online courses through the two variables in Transactional Distance: structure and dialogue. How the teacher structures the online course content, and communicates with his/her students is a huge part of all three learning theories.

How the instructor chooses to motivate and engage his/her students during online class time is a part of the behaviorism learning theory. What is the instructor doing to keep all students in the loop and making sure students are completing the readings and requirements outside of class?

How the instructor presents the material to the class is a part of the cognitive learning theory. What is the teacher doing to get the content across to all of his/her students, or what is the instructor doing to help students when class is not in session (e-mails, Skype, phone calls, etc.).

How the teacher chooses to present the content to make it relevant to his/her students’ lives is a part of the constructivist learning theory. How is the teacher applying real world experiences? How is the teacher allowing students time to reflect on their learning and make sense of it all?

These are just a few examples of how theories can manifest themselves through online learning.


Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


4 thoughts on “Week 2

  1. Motivation, structure and presentation! You have nicely clarified the utilitarian drivers that naturally stem from the three primary theories. I appreciate that you have given credit to the behaviorists since motivation is really the essence of learning. There is a time to draw from our own internal sources and there are times when we just need to hear the bell ring! 🙂


  2. Genevieve,
    I love the examples you give of how each learning theory is in use in your classroom. It sounds like you have supports in place to motivate your students, provide them the scaffolding they need, and build opportunities for them to build their own knowledge. You also nicely summarize how each learning theory is present in distance learning, and your questions are ones that I can ask myself about distance learning but also about learning in my own classroom. I agree that how a teacher manages structure and dialogue can make or break a distance class, and I’ve experienced both positive ones and others I’ve soon forgotten because they didn’t effectively address those two variables. Thanks for your blog post!


  3. Genevieve- I also believe that I apply all learning theories in my teaching. I have been meaning to check out class dojo. Maybe start it with my students this year and see how it works. I think the examples that you provides made a clearer picture in my head of the learning theories online. Nice job!


  4. Genevieve,

    I like your examples of the three different theories, and the Class Dojo is a perfect example of the behaviorist learning theory. I also believe I am more of a constructivist, however I use some behaviorist when correcting students’ pronunciation. To connect the theories to my own experience helped me to have a better understanding of the theories, and also is a good reflection of my teaching experience. Thanks!



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