Study of Basic Theories: Behaviorism, Constructivism, Cognitivism, and Humanism


Learning is the most important mental function for people, and any other living being. Learning builds new abilities, ideals and understandings. Learning is one thing that we as living beings will never stop doing. We are constantly learning new things. Learning does not just happen when you are in school or reading a book, learning is always happening all over the world. Throughout this course we discussed different theories of learning. These theories include, behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and humanism. These four theories are important roles that relate to learning. Learning measures behaviors in order to understand emotions and attitudes to gain unlimited knowledge.

Theory of Learning

Learning theories are needed in order for individuals to further their development throughout the ages. The environment plays a huge role on how we learn. There are many different environmental influences that take effect on an individual such as punishments, observations, reinforcements, and associations. Learning theories come from experiences, people and the environment. Learning theories not only help you develop knowledge but it can also help ourselves to teach others. Interacting with different people, succeeding or failing, taking life risking decisions, denying or accepting opportunities can make an individual become aware of many learning theories. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and humanism are some of the primary learning theories of development that relates to the psychological principles of learning. Not everyone has the same learning theories, or learn in the same way. Studying these different learning theories can help one to understand how they learn, and can help to understand how other people learn. Not everyone learns the same way.


Behaviorism is the study of how people respond to their environment, and stimuli. Stimuli meaning reacting to how people act when they are rewarded or punished. An example of this could be when a child is learning how to use the bathroom, and the parent rewards said child for using the bathroom. The child will soon learn that if they use the bathroom they will be rewarded. Behaviorism has four different branches. These branches are psychological, radical, molar, and neobehaviorism. Radical behaviorism states that behavior should be the focus of psychology. Molar behaviorism is known by researches that argue that the rate of reinforces is important. Neo-behaviorism is known as a stimulus-response connection for all learning and behavior to occur (Rosser-Majors, 2017).

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is having two stimuli paired in order to create a stimulus that makes us react in a specific way (Rosser-Majors, 2017). For example, our text referred to Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov’s dog is an experiment where they repeatedly paired food with a specific tone and then this soon conditioned the dog to salivate when it hears the tone (Rosser-Majors, 2017). In classical conditioning, there is something known as a conditioned stimulus. A conditioned stimulus is “the stimulus that predicts the occurrence of another stimulus.” (Rosser-Majors, 2017). For example, the tone in the Pavlov’s dog experiment is the conditioned stimulus and the food is the unconditioned stimulus (Rosser- Majors, 2017). Classical conditioning is considered a learning process that happens between environmental and naturally occurring stimulus. The dog salivating at the sound of the tine when there were food present results in an unconditioned response. An unconditioned response is something that is not learned where as a conditioned response is learned. For example, if the dog heard the tune and automatically started to drool without food present would be a conditioned response. The dog has learned that when the tone plays, he is going to be given food.

Operant Conditioning

Operate conditioning is a behavior being rewarded or punished. I used the example of a child learning how to go to the bathroom. This is an example of a positive reinforcement. When a child uses the bathroom while potty training and is rewarded when they go. An example of a negative reinforcement is a child being grounded (Rosser – Major, 2017). Operate conditioning can be beneficial when done correctly. I am not one to believe in being rewarded when doing this you are expected to do, I believe this can tend to get out of control. Children will expect rewards if the parent does not stop it soon enough.


Cognitivism is the study of mental processes which individuals tend to think, gain memory, learn, pay attention, and solve problems (Rosser-Majors, 2017). Cognitivism came about when behaviorism did not study the mind. Cognitivism studies both how the environment effects someone’s actions and how they think. Cognitivist apply reinforcements to change a behavior that is not wanted to a behavior that is wanted. Cognitivists believed that thinking was directly related to how one behaved. Examples of cognitivism are, cognitive functioning, memory development, language acquisition, information processing, problem solving, and attention and perception.

Schema Development

Schemata’s represent knowledge at all ages from children to adults. A schema is developed by a pattern of thoughts or behaviors that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them. Existing schemas are based off of experiences and previous knowledge. Schemas are the stepping stone for organizing memory (Rosser-Major,2017). When a person tries to understand new information, schemata are working to see if there is any previous knowledge of the information. Every time we experience new things our brain is organizing them into schemata’s whether the experience relates to previous knowledge or if its new. A new schema will be made for new information. However not everyone will have the same schemas. This is because not everyone will experience the same things, or take in the same knowledge as someone else. Long- term memory is a limitless cognitive system which can store information permanently (Rosser-Majors, 2017).

Memory Development

Memory development refers to the increase in knowledge from childhood to adulthood. Memory increases as we grow. The new knowledge is acquired and developed through a different stage. Children and adults learn and understand information differently. According to Piaget children go through four stages of Cognitive development, the sensory stage, the preoperational stage, The concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. The sensory stage is, the stage where children begin to learn about the world by touching objects, and using fine motor skills to make sense of the world around them, this occurs during birth and two years of age. (Rosser- Major, 2017). The preoperational stage is the stage where children begin to put their new knowledge to use. Children begin to use symbols in which they use words and pictures to refer to objects. The Concrete Operational stage which develops between the ages seven to eleven years old. During this stage, the development of the child’s memory becomes more concrete. During this stage children think more logical and are able to organize their thoughts. During the Formal Operational stages adolescents begin to use their memory and thoughts to make complete sense of their reasoning, they are able to organize their thoughts and think logically, they are able to solve problems, plan for the future as well as reason about hypothetical situations.


Constructivism is found in cognitivism which constructivists examine learning skills based on constructivism. This theory includes critical thinking and using prior knowledge in order to process information (Rosser-Majors, 2017). This approach is known as stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model which define how individuals respond to stimuli.

Cognitive Constructivism

Cognitive constructivism relates with learning by using extensive individual thought in order for students to understand a specific material rather than reciting it. Therefore, it is important to provide classroom situations in order for individuals to develop individual learning. Cognitive constructivism is best used when children are allowed to learn in their own ways. This is beneficial because not every person learns the same way and this allows the child to learn in the best way possible for them. However cognitive constructivism may not always work because some children are unable to lean without the assistance of a teacher or adult.

Social Constructivism

Social interactions are important for everyone in day to day life. Being social is something that happens were ever you go, whether it school or work, or just somewhere in public. Social constructivism can work off of cognitive constructivism because this will allow children to work and learn on their own and when they need assistance they can ask peers or teachers for help. It is important to work by ourselves just as it is important for us to work with others.


Humanism reflects a person’s intentional behaviors which are then influenced by their values (Rosser-Majors, 2017). Humanism is what defines someone’s motivation and goals based on their goals. Humanism is when morals and values that a person had influences that persons behaviors by motivation towards a personal potential.

Motivational Theories of Learning

Motivation is what pushes us to reach our daily and personal goals. How we choose to do things is how we motivate ourselves. Motivation is important in accomplishing mostly everything in life. If we were not motivated to do things what would we accomplish? People tend to be more motivated when they are rewarded. For example I was struggling at my job because I felt all the hard work I was doing was unnoticed, and then I received employee of the month for our department and I felt confident in what I was doing and motivated to continue to a great job.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a process where we gain knowledge through our transformation of experiences. Concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation are general learning stages correlated to experiential learning. Experiential learning is not only associated with positive outcomes but also is fun for students.

Personal Learning Strategies

My personal learning strategies include motivation and cognitive constructivism. I tend to work harder if I have a goal for whatever I am working towards, whether it is school, or at work. I need to have a goal, otherwise I get bored and do not know why I am doing something. I feel that if I work on my own I am able to learn better. I am able to understand what it is I am learning and be able to come up with my own way of teaching it to myself. I feel if I were able to attend a school that allowed me to work on my own I would have done better in school growing up. Being forced to learn the same way as everyone else was not beneficial to me.

Learning Strategies for Others

I feel that learning strategies that would benefit other people is motivation and positive and negative reinforcements. I feel that if someone is motivated they are always going to do a better job than just getting the task done because it needs to be done. I also feel that when someone is being rewarded they tend to work harder and do a better job.


In conclusion, everyone learns differently. People need to find the learning strategies that work best for them. No one is the same. Being open to new ideas and new ways to learn is important. Learning can be difficult but knowing how you learn can make it a little easier.

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Study of basic theories: behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, and humanism. (2021, May 31). Retrieved August 9, 2022 , from

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