John B. Watson (1878-1958) and B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) are the principal originators of The Behaviorist Learning Theory. Focus is primarily concerned with observable and measurable aspects of human behavior. Behaviorists believe that all behavior is learned and can also be unlearned and replaced by new behaviors. In its simplest form it uses a variety of methods to elicit appropriate responses. Within the educational system a number of methods are used. Reinforcement both positive and negative, punishment, contracts, and extinction are just some of the methods educators use in their school environment. Many of which I have witnessed within my own school environment.


The Cognitivists include Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner. Cognitivist (learning theory) is the theory that humans generate knowledge and meaning through sequential development of an individual’s cognitive abilities, such the mental processes of recognize, recall, analyze, reflect, apply, create, understand, and evaluate.


Constructivist Learning Theory in its simplest definition is a theory based on observation and scientific study -- about how people learn. Constructivism refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves. Many educators believe that the best way to learn is by having students construct their own knowledge instead of having someone construct it for them. It is an active process not passive. In the early traditional sense of student learning we were led to believe that the teacher would lecture and the student would retain the information to be recalled later. The Constructivist Learning Theory believe students will learn best by trying to make sense of something on their own with the teacher as a guide to help them along the way. Focus should be on the student not the teacher.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) and John Dewey (1859–1952) along with other writers spread the word as it pertains to The Constructivist Learning Theory. Speaking from my own profession as an educator I find comfort in this theory. To have the students engage actively in learning and to ensure the teacher is there as a vehicle to guide learning the student will construct their own knowledge and experiences. The role of the teacher in the classroom is to be interactive, a facilitator, flexible, ensure student centered activities and democratic. There is a quote I have used in the past I feel in some way compliments what The Constructivist Learning Theory represents. This is a Chinese Proverb. “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”