Education Theory/Epistemology and Learning Theories

Education Theory

Epistemology and Learning Theories

Epistemology basic is a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. Such beliefs influence the development of knowledge because they are considered to be the central values or theories that are functionally connected to most other beliefs and knowledge (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997).

Our own personal epistemology influences our own theories of learning, and consequently, how we approach, design, and delivery our classes. The terms used to describe epistemological positions vary, depending on whether it’s describing the origin or the acquisition of knowledge. A brief overview of the key terms is presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Key Epistemological Terms Figure 1. Key Epistemological Terms

Objectivism
What is knowledge?

Posits that knowledge is absolute and true, and is independent from and outside of the individual. Learning involves the transfer of what exists in reality to what is known by the learner.

Source of knowledge?

Reality exists external to the individual, so therefore knowledge simply exists and there is no need to construct knowledge. Knowledge is acquired by experience.

Associated terminology?

Objectivism is linked with empiricism - a process of gaining knowledge, in which sensory experience (what we can quantify with our own senses) is the only valid source of knowledge. Kuhn and Weinstock (2002) describe this way of knowledge acquisition as 'pre-procedural knowing', or the first way to approach acquiring information.

In English?
Type of class/lecture style?
Pragmatism
What is knowledge?

Pragmatism regards knowledge as a worthy but improbable goal. This approach emphasises theories of meaning (of what works) with the understanding that this may not reflect reality.

Source of knowledge?

Knowledge is interpreted and negotiated, through a process of experience and reason.

Associated terminology?

Pragmatism also used when describing the acquisition of knowledge, and involves active processing where no single truth exists (Brownlee et al, 2008). Kuhn & Weinstock (2002) describe this way of knowledge acquisition as ' procedural knowing '

In English?
Type of class/lecture style?
Interpretivism
What is knowledge?

In constructivism knowledge is not uniform and identical. Rather, it’s constructed at an individual level and exists in multiple formats.

Source of knowledge?

Knowledge is gained through reason, by considering the available information and assembling a personal interpretation. It’s not concerned with whether knowledge is true in the absolute sense, since truth depends on the knower’s frame of reference.

Associated terminology?

Interpretativism is linked with constructivism. Knowledge is constructed individual or collectively, and varies from person to person. These ‘constructed knowing’ beliefs are more likely to be linked to constructivist beliefs in learning (Brownlee, 2003; Hammer, 2003), which are based on a view of knowledge as complex, tentative, and needing to be actively critiqued (Gill, Ashton, & Algina, 2004).

In English?
Type of class/lecture style?


Each learning theory, or psychological explanation of teaching and learning, can be traced back to one of these main epistemological traditions.


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