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Models of Teaching and Related Theories of Learning


2.2.1 Models of Teaching and Related Theories of Learning

It has been argued that effective classroom teaching requires professional commitment in which teachers are required to use various teaching models or approaches appropriate to the diverse learning needs of students. A model of teaching can be viewed as a description of a learning environment including the teachers’ behaviours when the model is being used (Joyce et al., 2004). Similarly,

Brady (1985) described the nature of models as “guides to the preparation and implementation of teaching" (p. 11). Models of teaching are helpful when planning lessons, developing curricula or designing classroom activities and teaching materials because they represent particular teaching approaches that underpin a meticulous set of characteristics to meet certain purposes. In addition, many teaching methods and learning theories are believed to have been designed specifically to help students acquire and operate on information (Ji-Ping & Collis, 1995). Furthermore, some argue that it is important to draw upon teaching models in day-to-day classroom practices because it is believed that how teaching is conducted has a large impact on students' abilities to educate themselves (Mafune, 2006).

Over the years a large number of teaching models have been formulated. Many of these models vary in precision, theoretical orientation, and critical components.

Joyce and Weil (1992) and Joyce et al., (2004) reviewed a large number of such teaching models and chose a selection of them based on their utility and practicability in instructional settings. They merged those selected models under four ‘families’ of teaching that share orientations toward human beings and how they learn. These four families of teaching models are described as the information processing family, the behavioural systems family, the personal family and the social family.

It is not my aim here to review all those families of teaching models selected by the above authors extensively, since that is beyond the scope of this chapter.

Rather, the following subsections briefly outline and describe the main features of each of those families of models with reference to some relevant learning theories in order to show how teaching principles associated with those families of teaching models link to learning.

The Information Processing Family

The models presented in the information processing family represent distinct philosophies about how people think and about how teachers can influence the way students deal with the information they are receiving (Mafune, 2006). In general terms information processing can be referred to as the way learners handle

information. The models of teaching that contribute to this family appear to be cognitive in nature and focus on the understanding of information and concepts.

Cognition is a series of mental processes (Schunk, 2004) that include thinking, remembering, learning and the use of language. Cognitive theory usually relates to the role of information processing including the process of memory, organisation and neurological connections that are seen as central to this theoretical position (Reid, 2005). Generally, cognitive scientists model the human memory as a complex network that squares with what we know about how neurons in the brain are cross-connected in incredibly complex ways (Phillips & Soltis, 1991).

The information processing models have become dominant over the past 50 years, partly because of the insights the models advocated in describing and explaining cognitive processes such as thinking and problem solving. This led many to believe that if we are able to understand the connections between concepts, break down information and rebuild it with logical connections, then our retention of material and understanding are believed to be increased (Mafune, 2006).

As Joyce et al., (2004) noted the information processing family emphasises ways of enhancing students’ innate desire to make sense of the world by acquiring and organising information, solving problems, and developing concepts and language for conveying them. Table 2.1 depicts the seven models of the information processing family that have been adapted from the Models of Teaching by Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2004, p. 26).

Information processing is a generic name applied to theoretical perspectives dealing with the sequence and execution of cognitive events (Schunk, 2004). As has been indicated these models focus directly on students’ intellectual capacity and emphasise strategies that tap students’ own natural curiosity and desire to make sense of the world around them (Joyce et al., 2004). These tools allow students to acquire and organise data, identify problems and generate solutions (Mafune, 2006). However, it appears the emphasis of these models varies in the depth of their approach, from a narrow focus on memorisation to specific types of inductive thinking, depending on the nature of their designed purposes. These differences and the nature of their aims are clear from the information processing

models in Table 2.1. Some models in this family in fact provide the learner with information and concepts; some emphasise concept formation and hypothesis testing by the learner; and still others generate creative thinking. A few are designed to enhance general intellectual ability (Joyce & Weil, 1992; Joyce et al., 2004).

Table 2.1: Information Processing Models

Models Developer (redevelopers)


Inductive thinking (classification)

Hilda Taba (Bruce Joyce)

Development of classification skills, hypothesis building and testing, and understanding of how to build conceptual understanding of content areas.

Concept attainment Jerome Bruner (Fred Lighthall) (Tennyson and Cocchiarella) (Bruce Joyce)

Learning concepts and studying strategies for attaining and applying them. Building and testing hypothesis.

Scientific inquiry Joseph Schwab Learning the research system of the academic disciplines – how knowledge is produced and organized.

Inquiry training Richard Suchman (Howard Jones)

Causal reasoning and understanding of how to collect information, build concepts, and build test hypotheses.

Advance organisers David Ausubel (Lawton and Wanska)

Designed to increase ability to absorb information and organise it, especially in learning from lectures and readings.

Mnemonics (memory assists)

Michael Pressley Joel Levin Richard Anderson

Increase ability to acquire information, concepts, conceptual systems and metacognitive control of information processing capability.

The Picture-Word

Inductive Emily Calhoun Learning to read and write, inquiry into language.

Although many researchers have explored the information processing models, the principles associated with those models have not always lent themselves readily to school learning, curricular structure, and instructional design (Schunk, 2004) because it appears that these models fail to capture the complexity of human learning. This does not mean that those models in the information processing family have little educational relevance, but rather indicates that many potential applications are yet to be developed (Schunk, 2004).

Related Learning Theories

The information processing family of models has its roots in information processing theory of learning which focuses on how people attend to environmental events, encode information to be learned and relate it to knowledge in memory (Schunk, 2004) that is seen as central to this theoretical position. The advocators of this theory propose that children’s cognitive development occurs in stages and that learning of new skills and concepts should match these stages that involve different cognitive processes for various types of tasks (Moore, 2000). For instance, learning to read will require different processes from learning to spell (Reid, 2005).

Information processing theory has had important influences over the years and has been applied to learning, memory, problem solving, visual and auditory perception, cognitive development, and artificial intelligence (Schunk, 2004). As has been mentioned this theory provided insights into how students operate on information obtained either from direct experience or from mediated sources, so that they develop conceptual control over the areas they study (Joyce & Weil, 1992; Joyce et al., 2004). The main criticism of this theory is that it takes a mechanistic view of the mind and objectifies the human as an unimaginative passive object (Mayer, 1996). My experience as a classroom supervisor suggests the teachers in the Maldives provide very little interaction between themselves and their students in classrooms. In addition, they rarely provoke students into asking questions, although information processing methods of teaching and learning have pedagogical merits such as imparting solid information. The dominant use of teaching methods based on information processing theories of learning in many schools in the Maldives may be quite often a choice, because it may be a familiar method among the teachers and gives importance to them as directors of student learning.

The Behavioural Systems Family

Behaviourism is one of the oldest theories of learning upon which teaching approaches have been based, and it has been influential in education for many years. Behaviourism and some of its associated principles and philosophy is

believed to be useful to teachers and educators in terms of behaviour modification techniques and the place they have in classroom management and learning.

The behavioural systems family of teaching models are also known as social learning theory or behaviour modification, behaviour therapy and cybernetics (Joyce et al., 2004). As Ji-Ping and Collis (1995) indicated, this family of teaching models attempts to build efficient environments for sequencing activities and for shaping behaviour by manipulating reinforcement in which “teachers arrange special contingencies which expedite learning, hastening the appearance of behaviour which would otherwise be acquired slowly or making sure of the appearance of behaviour which otherwise would never occur” (Skinner, 1968, p.

64). Table 2.2 displays the models of teaching and their developers with a brief description of each individual model. It has been adopted from the Models of Teaching by Joyce et al., (2004, p. 34).

Table 2.2: Behavioural Systems Family Models

Models Developer Purpose

Social learning Albert Bandura Carl Thoresen Wes Becker

The management of behaviour.

Learning new patterns of behavior, reducing phobic and other

dysfunctional patterns, learning self-control.

Mastery learning Benjamin Bloom

James Block Mastery of academic skills and content of all types.

Programmed learning B. F. Skinner Mastery of skills, concepts, factual information.

Simulation Carl Smith and

Mary Foltz Smith. Mastery of complex skills and concepts in a wide range of areas of study.

Direct teaching Thomas Good Jere Brophy Wes Becker

Siegfried Englemann Carl Bereiter

Mastery of academic content and skills in a wide range of areas of study.

The models in Table 2.2 were developed from an analysis of the processes by which human behaviour is shaped and reinforced in which the main emphasis of behavioural theory is the changing of the learner's observable behaviour (Ji-Ping

& Collis, 1995). The behavioral systems family models of teaching consist of techniques designed to take advantage of human tendencies to modify behaviours

based on experiences and related positive and negative consequences, and offer an array of procedures that are extremely useful to teachers and educators (Mafune, 2006) that can usually be employed in most educational settings (Ji-Ping & Collis, 1995). In this respect Joyce et al., (2004) have stated that:

because these models concentrate on observable behaviour and clearly defined tasks and methods for communicating progress to the student, this family of teaching models has a firm research foundation. Behavioural techniques are appropriate for learners of all ages and for an impressive range of educational goals (p. 33).

Teaching based on the models in this family tend to rely on exercises that provide the consistent repetition necessary for effective reinforcement of response patterns in which students learn passively through teacher-centred approaches. These teacher-centred models are often described as direct teaching and appear to play a limited but important role in a comprehensive education programme (Joyce et al., 2004). Behaviourist approaches seem not as evident in today’s classrooms as in the past decades (Ryan & Cooper, 1995, 2004). However, many schools in the Maldives still follow these traditional teacher-centred methods to teach economics. The skills and knowledge are transmitted to students through formal, didactic, expository and teacher-centred approaches of lectures and direct explanations. The best learner is the one who can reproduce good results in the exam by memorising the content that has been taught. In addition, models in this family also tend to rely on the use of positive reinforcements such as verbal praise, good grades, and prizes. Research has shown the effectiveness of behavioural techniques with a wide range of problems, from phobias to social skill deficits, behavioural problems, and test anxiety (Mafune, 2006).

Related Learning Theories

As a theory of learning, behaviourism dominated much of the psychology of learning and teaching for the first half of the past century. Learning is explained in terms of environmental events. Mental processes are not necessary to explain the learning aquisition, maintenance, and generalisation of behaviour (Schunk, 2004).

Behavioural theorists (e.g., Skinner, 1976) believe that learning takes place as the result of a response that follows on a specific stimulus. In other words, learners begin to connect certain responses with certain stimuli (Moore, 2000), implying that learning is a behaviour that can be influenced and enhanced by other

behaviours (Reid, 2004). The point of education, therefore, is to present the learner with the appropriate repertoire of behavioural responses to specific stimuli and to reinforce those responses through an effective reinforcement schedule (Skinner, 1976). This requires consistent repetition of the material, small but progressive sequences of tasks, and continuous positive reinforcement (Schunk, 2004). It is believed that learned responses would quickly become extinct without continuous positive reinforcement because learners will continue to modify their behaviour until they receive some positive reinforcement. The learner behaviour can be modified and learning is measured by an observable change in behaviour.

In addition, it appears that learning programmes based on behavioural principles are characterised by goals, rewards and targets (Reid, 2004). However, behaviourism and the methods of teaching it espoused are criticised as causing widespread underachievement of students (Hodson, 1988) because of missed opportunities to engage students more actively in their own learning.

The Personal Family

The cluster of models in the personal family of Joyce and Weil (1992) are consistent with humanism which emphasises holistic learning including people’s capabilities and potentialities as they make choices and seek control over their lives (Schunk, 2004). In other words, the personal family models of teaching are based upon the perspective of the selfhood of the individual (Joyce & Weil, 1992;

Joyce et al., 2004) as the source of educational growth, paying great attention to personal development and the processes by which the individual constructs and organises his or her reality (Ji-Ping & Collis, 1995). Table 2.3 summarises a list of models and the purposes of each model in the personal family that have been adopted from Joyce et al., (2004, p. 32).

Table 2.3: Personal Family Models

Models Developer



Nondirective teaching

Carl Rogers Building capacity for personal development, self-understanding, autonomy and esteem of self.

Enhancing Self-esteem

Abraham Maslow (Bruce Joyce)

Development of personal understanding and capacity for development.

In describing the models of teaching in Table 2.3, Joyce et al., (2004) stated that

"they [the personal family models] attempt to shape education so that we come to understand ourselves better, take responsibility for our education, and learn to reach beyond our current development to become stronger, more sensitive, and more creative in our search for high-quality lives" (p. 31).

As has been indicated the principles of the personal family models are consistent with the principles of the humanistic approaches that are believed to be highly relevant to classroom teaching (Schunk, 2004). Hence, the personal family models of teaching can be used in several ways. Many of the important principles that these models accentuate can be built into teaching goals. These include the individual perspective, encouragement of personal growth and productive independence and provision of choices and opportunities for students (Schunk, 2004), so they become increasingly self-aware and responsible for their own destinies. In addition, personal models can also be related to the development of social relations and to the individual's information processing capacity (Ji-Ping &

Collis, 1995). These models can also be used to enhance the personal qualities and feelings of the students, to improving partnerships between students and teachers, and to communicate affirmatively during classroom interactions (Mafune, 2006).

Since this family of models underpins the belief that the better-developed, more affirmative, self actualising learning can increase learning capabilities, it was argued that personal models can increase academic achievement (Mafune, 2006).

In addition, humanistic approaches as applied to learning are largely constructivist and emphasise cognitive and affective processes. They do not explain behaviour in terms of reinforcing responses to environmental stimuli (Schunk, 2004). As has

been mentioned, models of teaching in this family begin with the perspective of the individual and allow teachers to develop self awareness so that students become responsible for their own growth and lifelong learning skills that promote quality of life (Mafune, 2006).

However, the models in the personal family that share the principles of humanism are not without their critics. The main criticism of humanism is that it is seen to be a highly self-centred approach to life. As has already been indicated, humanistic teaching is based upon the perspective of the selfhood of the individual and pays great attention to personal development. Critics argue that if a student is concerned primarily with their own personal growth and development, how can there be a concern with what is good for other students in the class (Reid, 2005)?

The advocators of humanistic approaches such as Maslow (1970) refuted this criticism and argued that one of the characteristics of self-actualisation is the tendency for individuals to focus on problems that lie outside themselves.

Therefore, the model did not advocate narrow self-centredness.

Since the models in this family have some epistemological links to the social family models, the learning theories related to these two families will be presented after the review of the social family of models in the following section.

The Social Family

The social family of teaching models is oriented toward developing social relations between students and their culture and drawing upon social sources (Ji-Ping & Collis, 1995). In other words the social models combine a belief about learning and a belief about society (Mafune, 2006). The main principle underlying this family of models is to develop a positive school culture that emphasises the development of integrative and productive ways of interacting and norms that support vital learning activity (Joyce & Weil, 1992). In describing the cluster of teaching models in the social family Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2004) noted that working together often generates a collective energy called synergy. So "the social models of teaching are constructed to take advantage of this phenomenon by building learning communities" (p. 29). The social family models of teaching in

Table 2.4 is a brief description of each of the models. These models are adapted from the Models of Teaching by Joyce et al., (2004, p. 29).

It is clear from Table 2.4 that the models of teaching in this family vary depending on the nature of the model itself. For instance, some models in this family focus on comparatively simple processes, such as organising students to work together, while others are more sophisticated in the processes they advocate, such as promoting democratic social organisation and the analysis of major social problems and critical social values and issues (Mafune, 2006).

Table 2.4: Social Family Models

Models Developer


Purpose Positive

interdependence David Johnson Roger Johnson Margarita Calderon Elizabeth Cohen

Development of interdependent strategies of social interaction. Understanding of self-other relationships and emotions.

Group investigation John Dewey Herbert Thelen (Shlomo Sharan) (Bruce Joyce)

Development of skills for participation in democratic process. Simultaneously emphasises social development, academic skills and personal understanding.


inquiry James Shaver

Donald Oliver Analysis of policy issues through a jurisprudential framework. Collection of data, analysis of value questions and positions, study of personal beliefs.

Role-playing Fannie Shaftel Study of values and their role in social interaction. Personal understanding of values and behaviour.

Structured social inquiry

Robert Slavin and

colleagues Academic inquiry and social and personal development. Cooperative strategies for approaching academic study.

As has been indicated the models in this family combined a belief about learning and society that promotes social constructivism. A key belief about learning is that cooperative interactions in classrooms are beneficial for students socially as well as intellectually. Arguably, because the main purpose of education in any country is to produce responsible citizens it was therefore believed that the central role of education from this perspective is to prepare citizens to perpetuate a democratic social order (Mafune, 2006). The combination of these two beliefs has resulted in the development of many student-centred teaching models based on the principles of social constructivism, including the many cooperative learning

methods in which students work together in small groups to help each other in order to achieve group goals (Johnson & Johnson, 2002). Student-centred teaching and learning through cooperative groups has a particular relevance to the present study. Hence, Chapter Three of the present study reviews major cooperative learning methods. It then presents a cooperative learning model to be trialed as an alternative to the traditional methods of teaching that dominate classroom practices in Maldivian secondary schools.

Related Learning Theories

The theory of learning which is currently popular and which has gradually come to dominate the last thirty years is constructivism, which appears to have epistemological connection to the personal and social families of teaching models discussed earlier.

Although there are different versions it appears the most widely recognised two major forms of constructivism are Piaget’s psychological constructivism and Vygotsky’s socio-cultural constructivism (Abdal-Haqq, 1998; Quaintance, 2001;

Richardson, 1997; 2003; Schunk, 2004). Psychological constructivism is based on the idea that knowledge is constructed and made meaningful through an individual’s interactions with and analysis of the environment (Westwood, 2006).

In contrast, socio-cultural constructivism views human intellectual development as a cultural process that involves people’s changing participation in the cultural activities of their communities (Rogoff, 2003). In psychological constructivism the focus is on the individual constructing knowledge through cognitive processes of analysing and interpreting experiences (Quaintance, 2001). In socio-cultural constructivism, however, knowledge is not solely constructed within the mind of the individual; rather, it is the interactions within a social context that involve learners in sharing and constructing their ideas and beliefs (Abdal-Haqq, 1998;

Quaintance, 2001; Rogoff, 2003). In other words, socio-cultural constructivism emphasises that human intelligence initiates in the culture or society (Hsiao, 1996). According to Rogoff (1994) learning in socio-cultural constructivism is

“seen as a function of ongoing transformation of roles and understanding in the socio-cultural activities in which one participates" (p. 210). The transformation of participation can be explained in terms of knowledge that is continually enacted

through human participation in a changing environment (Rogoff, Matusov, &

White, 1996). It is believed that people change through transforming their participation in socio-cultural activities (Rogoff, 1997) such as peer interaction, scaffolding, and modeling that are important ways to facilitate individual cognitive growth and knowledge acquisition (Quaintance, 2001).

The review of the above models of teaching and theories of learning have provided some insights about how human beings learn. Each of them has its own metaphors of learning, and according to Mayer (1996) the teacher also has different roles for each of these theories in the teaching and learning process. For example, a behaviourist teacher dispenses rigid rewards and punishments, an information processing teacher dispenses information, and a social-constructivist teacher guides the exploration of academic tasks.

However, as far as teaching is concerned teachers are required to try and encourage their students to engage in active learning and discover principles by themselves. Yet, teachers need to simplify the curriculum and translate the materials to be learned into a format appropriate to the learner's current state of understanding.

While oversimplified, the above models of teaching and theories of learning provide a conceptual understanding of the present study that focuses on implementing a cooperative learning model to teach economics at the secondary school level. Cooperative learning methods of teaching appear to link with socio-cultural constructivism. Hence, the following section examines research on teaching and learning in order to understand the constructivist perspectives further in relation to research on teaching and learning.