How Behaviorism & Cognitivism Impact Adult Education

Learning Theories
Behaviorism vs. Cognitivism
Raul Rivera
Behaviorism vs. Cognitivism
Behaviorism and Cognitivism are two major
psychological perspectives that have dominated how
learning has been viewed throughout the 20th century
and into the 21st century. Both theories provide
unique approaches to how learning takes place.
Behaviorist Theorist
John Dewey
Burrhus Frederic Skinner
John Dewey - Background
• At the age of 15 attended the
University of Vermont and obtained his bachelor’s
• Doctorate in Philosophy was obtained from
John Hopkins University in 1884
• Began teaching philosophy and psychology at the
University of Michigan
• In 1894, Dewey joined the faculty of philosophy at
the University of Chicago
• In 1904 joined Columbia University
John Dewey - Publications
• Psychology (1887)
• Leibniz’s New Essays Concerning the Human
Understanding (1888)
• Studies in Logical Theory (1903)
• How we think (1933)
• Arts as Experience (1934)
• Knowing and the Known (1939)
John Dewey - Contributions
• Founder of philosophical movement know as
• Functional psychology pioneer
• Leader of progressive movement in education
• Developed a metaphysics that examines, precarious,
histories, and ends
• Precarious – ongoing experience problematic
• Histories – process of change with an identifiable outcome
• Ends – goals of moral actions
John Dewey – Impact on education
• One of the first ones to propose the connection of
education through experience
• His impact to education could be found in current
curriculum of K-12 schools, colleges and universities
• Course offering where student have experience to his/her
field by doing internships, externships and work-study's to
obtain credit for the course as a reward
B.F. Skinner - Background
• Skinner attended Hamilton College pursuing a
career as a writer
• Obtained a B.A. in English literature from Harvard
University, later, he obtained a PhD., in
• Taught at University of Minnesota, and Indiana
University where he was chair of the psychology
• Returns to Harvard University in 1948, as a tenure
professor, and where he was one of the signers of
the Humanist Manifesto
B.F. Skinner - Publications
• Two types of conditioned reflex and a pseudo type
(1935) Journal of General Psychology
• Superstition in the pigeon (1938)
Journal of Experimental Psychology
• Are theories of learning necessary (1950)
• Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971)
B.F. Skinner - Contribution
• Coined the term operand conditioning – Neutral, Reinforces, &
• Studied operand conditioning by conducting experiments using
animals which he placed in a “Skinner Box”
• His philosophy was “Radical” behaviorism
• Influential psychologist of the 20th century
B.F. Skinner – Impact on education
With his Operant Conditioning theory, or also called the Skinner Box,
He used animals to measure response of organism and their orderly
interaction with the environment.
Cognitivism Theorist
Jerome Bruner
(Born 1915)
Jerome Bruner - Background
• Bachelor’s degree from Duke University
• PhD, from Harvard University
• Honorary Doctorates: Harvard, Sorbonne,
University of Brazil, Bruxelles, Chicago, Manchester,
Oslo, Cambridge, Montreal, Pennsylvania, Barcelona,
Berlin, Rome, etc.
• Research director at Institut Jean-Jacques Rouseeau,
Geneva (1921-25)
• Professor of Psychology, Sociology and the Pylosophy of
Science, University of Neuchatel (1925-29)
• Director, International Bureau of Education, Geneva
• Director, Institute of Educational Sciences, University of
Geneva (1932-71)
Jerome Bruner - Publications
A Study of Thinking (1956)
Toward a Theory of Instruction (1966)
Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (1987)
The Culture of Education (1996)
Acts of Meaning (1991)
Jerome Bruner – Impact on education
Bruner’s three modes of representation
• Enactive (0 – 1 years) – Encoding action based
information and storing it in our memory.
• Iconic ( 1 – 6 years) – information stored
visually as images
• Symbolic (7 years onwards) – information
stored as code or symbol, such as language.
Summary - Behaviorism
Behaviorism as we can see we John Dewey’s
contribution, education, benefits when using
experimental process such as internships and workstudy.
Performing these activities, help a student what to
expect in the real world through practicing by doing an
internship and getting as a reward school credit
Summary - Cognitivism
As it was seen with Jerome Bruner theory, where he
uses the Three Modes of Representation
• Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks
that they would find difficult to describe visually or
in written context
• visual materials helps the adult to have a better
understanding of what it’s being taught using
• Bruner’s constructivist theory suggest it is effective
when faced with new material to follow a
progression from enactive to iconic to symbolic
In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 20, 2013 from
John Dewey, American Pragmatist . Retrieved June 20, 2013 from
Wikipedia. Retrieved June 20, 2013 from
McLeod, S. A. (2007). B.F. Skinner | Operant Conditioning - Simply
Psychology. Retrieved from
Prolog press release. Retrieved June 23, 2013 from
Wikipedia. Retrieved June 22, 2013 from
Simply psychology. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
Wikipedia. Retrieved June 22, 2013
• Dewey, John. [Photograph]. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from
• Skinner, B.F. [Photograph]. Retrieved from
• Bruner, Jerome. Dr. Jerome Bruner. Retrieved from

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