My New Learning Philosophy

Which Learning Theory is Shown in this Video?

Think about how you learn as you watch this video. Why does your brain still allow this video to captivate you?

What are the Basic Beliefs about Learning?


Behaviorism is the first learning theory that I want to look at. On its surface, it is the easiest learning theory to understand, because of its basic principle.  This theory of learning states, “all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment through a process called conditioning. Thus, behavior is simply a response to environmental stimuli” (  The teacher provides the stimulus and the student learns based on their interaction with the environment.  According to prominent behaviorist Albert Bandura, students learn from modeling and observation.  Behaviorism is also focused only on the answer and not the process.  In the classroom, this can be seen with rote memorization.  As well, true behaviorism has a system of rewards. For example,  if you promise one of your classes that you will bring them donuts if they do well on a particular assessment, that is an example of behaviorism.  

Wall Street Journal

How does this video illustrate some of the problems with learning?


Cognitive theorists such as Piaget  argue that learning takes place in relation to the total learning environment.  According to, “Cognitive learning theory explains how internal and external factors influence an individual’s mental processes to supplement learning.”  The focus on internal and external factors is more commonly known as nature vs. nurture. Cognitive theorists focus on comprehension, making connections with previous information, and application.  In short, cognitive theorists expect students to not only know the answer, but be able to explain how they got it; explain how it works within their frame of reference; and apply the information in life situations.


Constructivism is “an approach to learning that holds that people actively construct or make their own knowledge and that reality is determined by the experiences of the learner” (Elliott et al., 2000, p. 256). There are a few ideas that are central to the constructivist approach. First, educators have to believe that “Knowledge is therefore actively constructed by the learner rather than passively absorbed”(Cognitive Constructivism | Gsi Teaching & Resource Center, 2021).  Jean Piaget was a Swiss child psychologist. His research, which examined cognitive development, led “Piaget [to] reject[ed] the idea that learning was the passive assimilation of given knowledge.”(Cognitive Constructivism | Gsi Teaching & Resource Center, 2021). The Montessori method is an example of active learning  (Exploring the Pros and Cons of Montessori Education, 2019). The students learn to use hands-on assignments while moving to various learning stations. John Dewey, a major theorist of the constructivist method, would agree with the Montessori method in that he argued that students learn by doing and having rich, memorable experiences (The Difference Between Projects and Project-based Learning, 2019)  

The second constructivist idea is that all knowledge is socially constructed. Learning takes place within the confines of social activity, meaning we learn together “rather than an abstract concept” (Dewey, 1963).  Lev Vygotsky argued that all knowledge is socially construed, and the community helps the learner make meaning out of the information (Vygotsky, 1978).  The community is made up of the ‘More Knowledgeable Other,’ which is a mentor that guides the learner (Sprouts, 2020a). When the learner is properly guided by the ‘More Knowledgeable Other,’ the learner can reach the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (Vygotsky 1978). Dewey corroborates Vygotsky in that he makes the same argument that the teacher should be more of a facilitator/guide rather than the main focus.

The final idea that needs to be discussed regarding the constructivist theory of learning is COVA.  COVA has been researched by Harapnuik, Thibideaux, et al.  COVA is a student-centered methodology that focuses on student choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assessments.

 Now that we’ve gone through a brief explanation of some of the different learning theories, as well as the foundational principles, lets get MARRIED!


M.A.R.R.I.E.D. My Learning Philosophy

One definition of marriage according to is a combination or mixture of two or more elements.  When a student is truly MARRIED to education, they are willing to go above and beyond for the cause of learning.  Let’s take a moment to examine each letter in my learning philosophy.  I will give the letter, and the corresponding number rank according to importance as I see it.

Motivation (1) –  Abigail Adams is credited with saying, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”  If people want to learn, they have to have the motivation; that deep desire to push themselves to gain knowledge.  Think of the words of John Dewey, “The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning” (   This will mean failure at times.  However, failure is not a bad thing if you take time to analyze, reflect, and try again (with a new method) to complete your task.

Analysis (2) – This is the ability for a learner to look at a situation and/or problem and see the elements and structures that make up that problem.  The learning takes place when the learner begins to think about it deep enough to come up with a solution. 

Reflection (4) – Reflection happens when the learner takes time to think about and analyze their experiences and responses with the specific goal of learning from them.

Rules (7) – I don’t care which “educational school” you are from, there needs to be rules.  In an informal learning environment there are rules.  Think about this quote found in, A New Culture of Learning,  “Whether it is in the workplace, the classroom, an Internet message forum, or some other venue, the norms and the rules of the space dictate the boundaries….” (Kindle, no page number).  People tend to think of rules as being oppressive, however I submit to the reader that the rules actually provide freedom.  If the learner knows the boundaries, they realize they have all the freedom in the world within those guidelines.  

To move from the philosophical into the more practical.  Consider a society without rules, it is chaos.  There has to be rules present in any environment.  Even if we were to limit our discussion of learning to the school environment, if there were no rules, even your best students would be non-compliant.

Inquiry (3) – Questioning provides a great way to learn.  Inquiry forms the foundation for problem based learning.  Some would argue that inquiry forms the foundation of all learning.  Bruner summarized the inquiry method when he said, “learners are encouraged to discover facts and relationships for themselves” (

Extension (6) – Extension is a two part conversation when it comes to learning.  First, the learner must be willing to go beyond the classroom in order to learn.  If I had a dime for everyone who has told me that history was their worst subject in high school, but now loves it.  If they would have extended their learning by watching the history channel, or news, or reading books while in school, they might have a different view of history.    

Second, extension also deals with the idea of being a life long learner.  The learner must be willing to extend and apply their desire to learn to every life situation.  Whether the learning is set in a formal environment, or an informal environment, extension requires that the learner take every opportunity they have to learn.

Discipline (5) – In this aspect of my philosophy, I am specifically looking at self-discipline.  Wanting to be a life long learner requires discipline.  Wanting to be a successful student in a traditional setting requires discipline.  I would argue that the straight F student has cast off all self discipline.  Consider all of the effort a student that has failed all of their classes must make.  Being constantly chewed out by parents, teachers, and other loved ones.  The consistent requirement to actually tune out their teachers and interesting information.  The feeling of overwhelming anxiety daily.  The purposeful ability to not consider any structures that might help them.  I could continue, however my point is it takes self discipline to be a good learner. 

Who am I as A Learner?

Well if you look at my teaching style, then you will see what I believe about learning styles. I am a  cognitive, constructivist, that believes in a foundation of behaviorism. I clearly paid attention to Tesia Marshik  TED Talk regarding  the fact that learning styles is a myth. However, I do believe that  learning should be well-rounded. As a learner I like visual stimulation and auditory stimuli. The behaviorist in me loves taking notes.  For me, all of this needs to be wrapped in role-playing, opportunities to actually manipulate the information through hands-on activities, or some creative ways to represent the information that I’ve learned. I also believe that learning should be apply to real life. For instance, when my students tell me that they’re afraid to fly, even though I’m not a math or physics teacher I explain to them that the reason why they’re afraid is because they don’t understand math. How do I know this? because I used to be afraid of roller coasters, until I understood the math behind it. Learning needs to be applied to real life.  

Look at this page, it looks similar to the creating significant learning environments. Why? Because I’m going to teach in the way that I feel is the best way to learn. it just so happens that I’ve had some  incredible teachers throughout my life. I would go as far as to say that I’m an amalgamation of what was done to me. Let’s look at this a little closer.


What else do I believe about myself as a learner? I would argue that I’m a skeptic first. I just don’t trust what is coming out of anyone’s mouth, because they are just trying to sell you on something. The good news is that that skepticism forces me to question and analyze I’m being taught. I also believe that I learn by doing, however, there’s got to be some rote memorization in the learning process for me. If you look at Bruner, I do believe in spiral learning. Whether it is rote memorization, or learning by doing, I have to have more than one opportunity to interact with what I am learning.

As a learner I also believe that you can show me the big picture, and then you have to break it down into bite-size puzzle pieces for me. Look at my home page how am I going to eat this that’s the big picture and my response is one bite at a time.

 I have to deal with myself and motivation. I’m prideful at times, and so sometimes I don’t want to listen if it’s not what I deem as important. As a result, I’m not going to learn it.  Even in college there were semesters where I would only focus on the classes that we’re related to my field. When I got other classes I would do the work but there wasn’t really learning going on. The Bible says pride comes before the fall, and my GPA reflects that. It’s only by the grace of God that that I made it through.  If it is true for me then it could be true for my students. So I have to figure out a way as a teacher to motivate my students to be willing to learn information that they don’t deem is important to them. 

The cognitive learner in me realizes that internal and external forces can affect the learner. Think about it I just told you I’m prideful, and as a result I’ve gotten bad grades in classes because of the internal forces at work within me. More than once I’ve had to pray for humility before I’ve been our class. The constructivist learner in me is always scaffolding. Scaffolding is making connections between what you are being taught and your environment. I’m always trying to make connections on whether or not “this” will work in my classroom.

To see how my learning philosophy has influenced my teaching, please look at my Innovation plan, >>>here<<<. You can see my growth mindset plan >>>here<<<.

Who Really Taught Me

For over 25 years, I have been working with incredible teachers. Many of these teachers mentored me, shared ideas, and inspired me to create. I spent along time working in a department where we would actually compete to see who could make the best lesson. I am currently in a group that shares lessons. What they don’t know, is I am silently competing with them trying to make my lessons better than theirs. If there is any value in anything I do regarding education, these, along with the thousand of students I have learned from are the true references.

Annotated Bibliography

ChangSchool. (2015, December 14). Dr. Tony Bates on Building Effective Learning Environments. Retrieved from

*Dr. Tony Bates discusses teaching and learning styles, deep vs. surface learning and competency based learning in this very short video

Cognitive Constructivism. (n.d.). Retrieved from

*Provides an overview of cognitive constructivism.  Discusses their view of learning and motivation.  How can their theory be applied in education.  Also has a discussion of Piaget.

Cognitive Learning Theory: Theories with Benefits and Examples. (n.d.). Retrieved from

*Discussion of cognitive learning theory, as well as, social cognitive, and cognitive behavioral theories.  Also provides strategies on how these theories can be used in the workplace.

Dewey, J. (1963). Experience and education. Scribner Paper Fiction.

*This work outlines Dewey’s constructivist educational views.  This work could be seen as Dewey’s educational philosophy.

Ed383294 [PDF]. (2012). Retrieved February 6, 2021, from

*Here Joann Dehoney discuss two general models of cognitive task analysis and how these models should be integrated into instructional design.

Elliott, S. N., Kratochwill, T. R., & Joan, L. C. (2000). Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning with free, interactive student cd-rom (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.

*Gives the reader a varied amount of educational psychology. Readers will get some foundational principles regarding cognitive, social, and behavioral learning theories.  The idea here is that if Teachers know their students, they will be able to better adapt their teaching styles for their clientele.

Goodlad, J. I. (1984). A place called school: Prospects for the future. McGraw-Hill.

*Goodlad makes arguments for improving schools in this work.  The data used in this book comes from “A study of schooling”.  Make sure to look at, “Teachers and teaching.”

Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). Retrieved from;

*This short video starts with Dr. H pointing out that he is a big fan of Dewey’s.  The video goes on to explain his “CSLE wheel”.  Teaching must be student centered, teacher as a facilitator/coach,  great instructional design, a rigorous curriculum, delivered on line or face to face.

Kurt, S. (2020, January 06). Social Learning Theory: Albert Bandura. Retrieved from

*Kurt gives an overview on Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory discusses it’s impact.  I found 3 things to be interesting.  First, the idea that people learn through observation.  Second, and I have been discussing this in my discussion posts, the importance of motivation.  Finally, there is some great information about Bandura’s belief that learning doesn’t always lead to behavioral change.

Mcleod, S. (2017, February 05). Behaviorist Approach. Retrieved from

*In this article, Dr. Saul Mcleod gives a general overview of behaviorism.  He also discusses issues related to behaviorism, and evaluates the idea of behaviorism.

Mcleod, S. (2020, December 29). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from

*This article examines Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Mcleod discusses the five stage model as well as the eight stage model.  This article also has a section that deals with how to apply the hierarchy to educational settings.    

Nesvig, Ben. 35 Inspiring Quotes About Learning, 4 Mar. 2014,

*Quotes can be a great attention grabber. This site has plenty of quotes that revolve around educations.

“OpenLearn from The Open University.” OpenLearn, file:///C:/Users/Staff/Downloads/Activity%2011%20What%20is%20reflection.pdf

*A brief discussion of what true academic reflection is cane be found here. No Bibliography makes this work a problem.

TEDxTalks. (2015, April 02). Learning styles & the importance of critical self-reflection | Tesia Marshik | TEDxUWLaCrosse. Retrieved from

*Marshik debunks the learning styles myth in this video.  The discussion on the chess players at about 6:46 in the video is very interesting.  They couldn’t remake a random chess board, because they couldn’t make sense of the moves.

TEDxTalks. (2012, September 12). A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. Retrieved from

*The new culture of learning.  Brief summary of the book.  As teachers we need to remember the importance of play, and being able to manipulate ideas within the rules.  Argues that standardized testing is surveillance and normalization.

Tennyson, R. (n.d.). Linking cognitive learning theory to instructional prescriptions. Retrieved from

*Argues that we divide our classroom time into improving higher order thinking skills and knowledge acquisition. How we plan our instruction is very important to how well the students store and retrieve knowledge.

The difference between projects and project-based learning. (2019, October 18). TeachThought. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from

*What I learned from this article is that my work so far would be classified as projects, not project based learning.  Some things that make the differentiation are that my audiences are in the school, the student is a student, the is a clear outcome, and the work is handed in to a teacher.

“TOP 25 QUOTES BY JOHN DEWEY (of 442): A-Z Quotes.” A,

*Site for quotes

TheLavinAgency. (2020, February 11). Why Effort Matters More Than Talent | Angela Duckworth. Retrieved from

*Duckworth speaking on grit in this youtube clip.  Tells the story of Will Smith making the declaration that he will die on the treadmill before he let’s someone else win. 

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. CreateSpace?

*This book explains the importance of play, questioning and imagination in a structured environment.  Some key ideas is that humans are hands-on, and that context informs content.  Think of the last idea when you are explaining something that happened at the airport to someone who is afraid to fly.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.

*This book puts forth Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development.  His theory is applied to many different areas of life and learning.  Some of those areas include memory, language, play, and perception. 

Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development in Social Relationships. (2020, February 28). Retrieved from

*Goes through the basic precepts of Vygotsky’s theory.  He argued that community and language play a major role in learning.  Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development defends collaboration.

What is constructivism? (2020, May 27). Western Governors University. Retrieved February 14, 2021, from

*General information about the constructivist approach.  Gives eight principles and three types of constructivism.  Also includes a discussion of constructivism in education.

What is pbl? (n.d.). PBLWorks. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from

*Website that is dedicated to project based learning.  Another website that clarifies the difference between projects and project based learning.  Also has case studies for teachers to look at.  Great source if you are looking to branch off into PBL learning.

Western Governors University. (2021, March 23). What Is The Behavioral Learning Theory? Retrieved from

*This page offers general information on the theory of behaviorism.  Included is a study of the history of behaviorism and the theory behind it.  Also, the page provides teaching strategies for those who want to use this method.  It  also provides some of the major criticisms for this school of thought.  

Nethowto. (2015, May 08). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). Retrieved from

*This short video starts with Dr. H pointing out that he is a big fan of Dewey’s.  The video goes on to explain his “CSLE wheel”.  Teaching must be student centered, teacher as a facilitator/coach,  great instructional design, a rigorous curriculum, delivered on line or face to face.