Chapter 3: Literature Review

The literature review conducted in concert with an experimental dissertation study is generally oriented toward reviewing prior research and results relevant to the question under examination. The goals of such a review are to (a) establish a theoretical basis for the study, (b) gain insight into data collection and analysis procedures previously used, and (c) establish informed hypotheses regarding the expected outcomes of the study. These goals are also applicable to the present study, but they have already been addressed in chapter two. Therefore, the additional literature reviewed in this chapter is to provide an overview of theories from the five general approaches to the study of learning that commonly influence the practice of instructional design today.

The first approach, behavioral, focuses on the experimental study of learning, accepting observable performance as the only valid source of evidence for learning, and motivates learning primarily through the use of reward or punishment administered according to carefully planned schedules of reinforcement. The second approach, cognitive, uses operational constructs to describe knowledge representation, memory structures, and mental processes. Under this approach learning is promoted by manipulating the presentation of knowledge, providing encoding strategies, and prescribing rehearsal schedules—in order to facilitate linking new information with existing knowledge structures. The third, the constructive approach, emphasizes the individual uniqueness of mental models and the need for learners to construct their own knowledge structures. Constructive learning theory promotes learning primarily through discovery. The fourth, the human approach, is based on the observation that human beings act with intentionality and are guided by values. Learning is promoted by understanding the whole person, his motives, and his goals. The fifth approach, social, emphasizes that “people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling” (Social Learning Theory, 2008). The remainder of this chapter will give an overview of the history of research behind each of these approaches. Section titles provide the name of the theory, its primary proponent, and the approximate year or period in which it was first introduced, or when it was published in its most influential form. The list of theories that will be summarized is given in Table 1.
Table 1

Theories Reviewed Under Each Approach to the Study of Learning

Approach Theories Reviewed
Behavioral Associationism (Aristotle-350BCE)Connectionism (Thorndike-1898)Classical Conditioning (Pavlov-1928)Behaviorism (Watson-1913)

Operant Conditioning (Skinner-1938)

Mathematico-Deductive Theory (Hull-1943)

Contiguous Conditioning (Guthrie-1930)

Stimulus Sampling Theory (Estes-1950)

Cognitive Associationism (Aristotle-350BCE)Memory and forgetting (Ebbinghaus-1885)Purposive Behaviorism (Tolman-1922)Insight Learning (Kohler-1925)Cognitive Information Processing (Atkinson & Shiffrin-1968)

Subsumption Theory (Ausubel-1962)

Schema Theory (Rumelhart & Norman-1976)

Constructive Constructivist Learning in the Classroom (mid-1990’s)Intellectual Development Theory (Piaget-1952)Discovery Learning (Bruner-1961)
Human Hierarchy of Human Needs (Maslow-1943)Biological Motivation (Fuller-1962)Achievement Motivation (Atkinson & McClelland-1953)Attribution Theory (Weiner-1971)Self-Worth Theory (Covington-1976)

Self-Efficacy (Bandura-1977)

Self-Determination  (Deci & Ryan-1985)

Self-Regulation (Zimmerman & Schunk-1989)

ARCS (Keller-1979)

Freedom to Learn (Rogers-1969)

Agentic theory of Self (Bandura-1997)

Social Sociocultural Development Theory (Vygotsky-1934/1978)Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura-1977)Expansive Learning (Engestrom-1987)Cognitive Apprenticeship (Brown, Collins, & Duguid-1989)Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger-1991)

Dynamic, Distr., Bounded Communities (Wilson & Ryder-1996)


Chapter 2: Method | The Behavioral Perspective >

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