Values, theory and research that underpin educational practice.

The three main pedagogical themes of Humanism, Constructivism and Behaviourism have formed a strong basis for further exploration. Whilst I aspire to be a humanist in practice my teaching aligns itself closer to a behaviourist / constructivist approach.

Humanism is defined by Rogers as an environment where: “the learner should be assisted to learn what they chose to learn.” This creates a somewhat artificial and imbalanced teaching & learning environment. Whilst some Modules / Subjects in Advertising & Media (at Northumbria), Mass Communication (at Curtin) and Advertising (at Charles Sturt) allow a level of freedom, particularly in final year, with both the dissertation and media practical project, this is more about allowing students to explore in greater depth their prior learning. Learning; the student experience, here is therefore more closely aligned to the constructivist approach.

Vygotsky and Bruner summarise Constructivism as an environment where: “Learning results in changes in the whole person. Knowledge is created by the individual. Learning is an active process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Learners create personal interpretation of the world based on experiences and interaction. Knowledge is embedded in the context in which it is used – meaningful tasks.”

The Advertising & Media, Mass Communication & Advertising degrees all cross borders though, having a rich mixture of theory, history and practice. The problematic nature of teaching technical knowledge requires that a Behaviourist approach is rigidly embraced at the early stages of learning. So ‘Media Practice’ or ‘Applied Technical Skills in Media Production’ by their very nature require a level of technical competence prior to creative exploration at any great depth.

Skinner and Pavlov summarise Behaviourism as an environment where: “Learning results in changes in behaviour. Knowledge exists separate from the individual. Learning happens when a correct response is demonstrated following the presentation of a specific stimulus. Implies the dominance of the teacher. Learner will repeat desired behaviour if positive reinforcement is given. Instructional strategies – recalling facts, defining and illustrating concepts, applying explanations, automatically performing specific procedures.” Ultimately it is through a collective understanding of these themes applied through good practice that effective learning and teaching can be achieved.

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