The balance between learning research and educational practice cannot be neglected (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). The connection between these two areas could be explained by various learning theories with their own strong and weak points. In this paper, the comparison of different theories will be given on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses in regards to the interdisciplinary instruction.
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Behaviorism is the theory that defines learning as the acquisition of new behavior by means of observations and discussions. The main strength is the nature of the theory that allows gathering data on the basis of simple observations. Its weakness is its one-dimensional approach and the possibility to analyze what can be observed and measured only. No attention to the idea of adaptation is paid in this theory.
In comparison to behaviorism where observations matter, cognitivism is the theory that focuses on a human brain. In other words, theorists consider the ways of how people could understand and store information. Experiments, as the main method of the chosen theory, help to understand practical applications of knowledge. It is the strong aspect of the theory. Still, all processes are cognitive and cannot be observed directly. Such inability creates the main disadvantage of the theory.
Social theories are based on the idea of learning in certain social backgrounds (Arab et al., 2015). In comparison to previous two theories, this type of theories includes the possibility to observe and model human behavior. Its strength is the combination of learning and communication in regards to the chosen social background and open learning environment. The cons of the theory are the quality and measurements of discussions between students and no attention to physical or mental changes in people. There are the frames that cannot promote the development of students.
Situational theories are frequently used by leaders to improve and develop their skills. The peculiar feature of this theory is the possibility to choose skills in regards to the situation and the needs identified. Personal and professional attitudes are considered. However, there are certain negatives in such type of theories. Confusion, inabilities to understand all outside factors and their impact, and wrong perception of tasks could frustrate people and make them unable to achieve the required goals.
Constructivism is the theory according to which meaning is created from experience (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). Its strength is the engagement of students and chances to develop their skills and knowledge under different settings. Its weakness is the necessity for students to become the judges of their own knowledge. The effectiveness of such approach is doubtful.
Motivation matters in education, and motivational theories help to understand how to treat students and make them complete their tasks (King & McInerney, 2014). The positive aspect of motivation in cross-cultural education is the possibility to involve students and make them understand their worthiness in a classroom. Motivational theories have their weaknesses including the necessity to spend much time and encourage low performing students in activities.
Humanism theories include the theories of needs developed by Maslow and Erikson’s theory of development. The strength of such theories lies in students’ abilities to identify what they can do and what they have to do. The weakness is the inability to find the standards that could cover the needs and possibilities of all students.
All theories have their pros and cons. This analysis shows that teachers and learners have a variety of opportunities. The only thing they have to do is to clarify what they want to achieve and what they have to do.
Arab, M., Ghabami, B., Lakeh, M.A., Esmaeilpoor, S., Yaghamaie, M., & Hosseini-Zijoud, S.M. (2015). Learning theory: Narrative review. International Journal of Medical Reviews, 2(3), 291-295.
Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.
King, R.B., & McInerney, D.M. (2014). Culture’s consequences on student motivation: Capturing cross-cultural universality and variability through personal investment theory. Educational Psychologist, 49(3), 175-198.