Theories of Interactive Learning

Interactive learning is an educational approach that promotes active participation among students. In contrast to traditional structures that emphasize passivity among students, interactive learning is often student-led, encouraging debate and analysis of course content. Learning theories help to develop education by raising and responding to theoretical issues arising in education.

  • Constructivism Theory
    • For constructivist theorists, understanding is shaped by personal experience. The underlying principle is that we each construct mental models through which we interpret the surrounding environment. Learning is an interactive process that involves adapting our mental frameworks to accommodate fresh information. Rather than teaching what is right, strategies focus on how students construct meaning. According to NDT Resource Center, teaching often incorporates a variety of techniques to engage a learner’s unique learning style, including collaborative learning and direct instruction. The intention is to develop a student’s contextual understanding of a subject. Theorists advocate a customized curriculum with learning strategies actively encouraging oral participation and problem solving among students.

    Holistic Learning Theory

    • Holistic learning theory is a “sensory-rich” approach, which seeks to stimulate the student as a “whole.” According to its core principle, effective learning should engage all personality elements including the intellect, emotions and intuition. Teaching models often prioritize student interaction at all levels, in contrast to hierarchical structures that emphasize obedience and intellectual superiority. The experimental learning cycle is a common technique used to emphasize experience, cognition, perception and behavior. notes that it outlines how experience is translated into concepts through employing the four sequential stages of “concrete experience,” “observation and reflection,” “forming new concepts” and “testing new situations.”

    Action Learning Theory

    • For action learning theorists, learning is inextricably linked with real-world experiences. This approach emphasizes interaction by promoting small cooperative groups, which convene to collectively reflect on the life-issues of each member. According to its architect, Reg Revans, “action” within the real-world is key to learning. Oxford Brookes notes that the interrogative nature of action learning helps members to strengthen their problem solving skills.

    Sensory Stimulation Theory

    • Sensory stimulation theory asserts that learning should actively interact with the senses. According to Oxford Brookes, visual learning is the most effective, with three quarters of people acquiring knowledge through what they see. Greater learning, however, is achieved through engaging several senses. Sensory stimulation theory suggests teaching with a several visual images, colors and media to stimulate learning.

    Reinforcement Theory

    • For reinforcement theory, learning is a consequence of conditioned behavior. A branch of behavioral psychology, it asserts that learning is improved through reinforced behavior. For example, positive reinforcement techniques (such as verbal recognition) encourage students to repeat particular learning strategies, while negative reinforcement discourages others. Many contemporary strategies, such as repetition of multiplication tables, are based on reinforcement theory.

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