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his essay examines the extent to which my chosen learning theories of Cognitivism and Behaviourism contrast with each other, and which of these theories may be most useful to me within my teaching context. My educational setting thus far has been in a small, disadvantaged secondary school on the edge of the West Midlands. The school has 700 pupils, of which approximately 80 are in 6th Form and the rest are spread quite evenly between Year groups 7-11. My subject specialism is Geography, and so is compulsory for Key Stage 3, and a widely chosen option subject for both GCSE and A Level. Approximately 40% of the students are in receipt of Pupil Premium, and a high proportion of pupils are EAL. There is a wide gap between the highest and lowest achievers, and the pupils most likely to underperform (through showing a negative Progress 8 score at GCSE) in this school are white working-class boys. For over one hundred years, psychologists have put forward theories about how both adults and children learn. Most of these theories fit into several defined schools of thought, known as Behaviourism, Cognitivism (including branches known as Constructivism and social Constructivism) and Humanism. For the purposes of this essay, I will focus on comparing and contrasting the schools of Cognitivism and Behaviourism, showing the ways in which they are different, and assessing how far each set of strategies can be used in relevant ways within the education system, and within the school setting that I have experienced myself so far. I intend to critically evaluate the two theories, by performing a literature review of both, stating the perceived value of each, and then comparing both to the ways of working that I have experienced within my first placement. While various Behaviourist theories were first put forward as long ago as Aristotle, the term is thought to have been coined by John B. Watson in around 1912 (Pritchard, A. 2009). Watson proposed that the brain could only be studied with total objectivity and that anything less would be worthless. For this reason, people who subscribed to the Behaviourist school of thought studied only what could be seen or measured such as physical responses or changes in behaviour. The basic premise of Behaviourism is that learning takes place as a result of stimuli to either reinforce or dissuade a desirable or undesirable behaviour type, and this is known as ‘conditioning’ of which there are two major types known as ‘classical’ and ‘operant’ conditioning. Early Behaviourist studies linked a behaviour type with either a positive or nega
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