Identify the learning theory (behaviorism, information processing, social learning theory, modern constructivism) that most heavily influenced your lesson. Use and underline vocabulary from the theory to describe how you implemented it in your lesson, providing specific examples for each term used.
The theory that most influenced my lesson was Cognitivism. I taught a lesson that was very in keeping with the style of most of the lessons I observed Mrs. G. teach, and it was influenced most by cognitivist principles.
At the beginning of the class, Mrs. G. led the students in a brief discussion of their novel and gave a comprehension quiz. Most students’ attention had been focused to a baseline level of arousal because of the welcoming environment in the classroom and few distractions in the room. During the brief discussion and quiz, students’ attention was stimulus–driven, with the stimulus being both the quiz and the discussion, and their responses being participation in both activities.
When I began my lesson, I also focused the students’ attention at the stimulus–driven level using a poem that we read together and talked about. I directed students’ attention to the poem, giving them a place to focus their controlled attention.
In the next part of the lesson, we read, annotated, and summarized parts of the Fugitive Slave Act, as the content of the act directly related to the novel the students were reading. This was the content Mrs. G. specifically wanted me to cover in the lesson. Since the students had already been practicing annotating and summarizing, this was another opportunity for them to use their procedural memory to practice those skills. They were also able to practice their self-regulatory knowledge because as they read, they got to decide which parts were important and decide how to annotate and summarize—they decided how to use their procedural skills. The annotating and summarize also served as an encoding strategy to help them comprehend and process the complex language in the law.
In the next section of the lesson, we further encoded the ideas and concepts from the law by making explicit connections to the novel the students were reading. Students practiced transferring their knowledge to other contexts, which helps promote deeper thinking and processing and helps encode the information in their long–term memories. Students also used their declarative knowledge of the novel and of the law to make connections and further encode the information. This discussion also required students to have in their working memory both information from the novel and information from the law. The discussion allowed students to rehearse information from both of those places, and provided some elaborative rehearsal as we made connections between the texts.
Through the lesson, I observed the primacy and recency effects as well. Since the class had started with a discussion of the novel, the events they’d just read benefitted from the primacy effect, as that was the first thing they had talked about that day. We finished the lesson with the last part of the law, so that information benefitted from the recency effect, as we had just finished summarizing it when we began discussing connections between the novel and the law. The poem, which we had read and discussed in the middle, was not remembered as well as either the novel or the law.
At the end of the lesson, students completed an exit slip to help provide closure and another chance to further encode the information into their long–term memories. Overall, the lesson drew heavily from cognitivist principles, and if learning is a change in thinking, then I believe we were able to observe that change in thinking based on students’ responses and their exit slips, which showed their thinking at progressed and been opened to new ideas and concepts.