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JOT2 Task 2

By Vern Nelson Jr.

Learning Theories
Cognitivism, Constructivism and Behaviorism

Concern is placed on the observable and quantifiable behavior. Learning is the process of reacting to external stimuli. Focus on feedback systems (rewards and punishments) to shape behavior. Similar to how dogs are trained; see a behavior present a reward or punishment. Ideal for promoting a desired behavior or learning a process or routine.

The learner is active in creating their own understanding and knowledge through experiences. Focus on reflection on experiences to create knowledge. Teacher is facilitator of experiences and less the provider of knowledge. Ideal for learning how to apply already learned knowledge.

Response to behaviorism that states that people are not programmed animals.

Focuses on cogitation in learning process.

Often uses the metaphor of the mind being a computer where information comes in, is processed and then the learner creates the outcomes. Ideal for when learners need to learn more than just how to behave, as in behaviorism.

Lesson PLan

Grade Level:

8th Grade


U.S. History


U.S. Mexican War

Overview/ Purpose

Purpose of this lesson is to teach students about the U.S. & Mexican War.


SWBAT explain when and why the U.S. & Mexican War Started

Materials: Students need paper and writing utensil for notes. Teacher will need powerpoint.

Lesson Plan

Teacher Action

Student Action

1. Welcome class and write the objective on the board. 1. Listen to teacher. 2. Explain to students that today they will be taking notes 2. Get out paper and writing utensil form a powerpoint presentation. for note taking.

3. Begin notes/powerpoint over U.S. Mexican War. 4. Wrap up notes/powerpoint with any questions that the students might have

3. Students listen and take notes. 4. Ask any questions that students had over notes.

Lesson plan analysis

The lesson plan is behaviorism.

The learner is just sitting and listening to the teacher present over a topic.
There is no collaboration or cognition. The strength would be the fact that a lot of information can be presented quickly.

Lesson Plan Adaptation

The current lesson plan has a strength in the fact that it will get a lot of information across quickly to the learner. The best learning theory to adapt this lesson towards would be the constructivist approach. Allowing the learner more time to work with the material and some time to talk to their partners over what they are learning would be beneficial to the overall learning process. Allowing some collaboration will give students a chance for a better deeper understanding, a chance to interact with the content being presented and a chance to integrate the new information with existing knowledge.

Limit lecture time.
Have discussion time for students with partners and with class.

Allow students to ask questions throughout the lesson not just at the end.
Working in small groups students could create a brief presentation on what they think is the leading cause to the U.S. & Mexican war.

Students in this setting are getting ready for high school and life beyond. They need time to start developing critical thinking skills and practice on how to communicate and work with others. Therefore a constructivist approach seems the best way to get students to learn and interact with the new information to not only allow them to learn the content but to better prepare them for their futures.

Theories of Design
Wiggins, Gagnes, Teaching for Understanding

Wiggins Backward Strengths Design Limitations

Suggest that instructional designers start at the end and work their way backwards. You pick what you want your learners to know, what your overall goal is, and then you figure out how to get there. Allows the designer to focus on the goal and clearly defines where one wants to go. The problem with Wiggins is that all the focus is on the end and not on the journey. There is no accounting for the learners own thought process or if they want to take a different path to get to the same end.
Wiggins can be useful in the instructional design process because it focuses the designer on what is really important and where one is trying to go with the instruction. Often in instructional design its easy to loose sight of where one is going with the instruction, Wiggins theory of Backward Design is a helpful tool to refocus on the end product and understanding.

Ganges Nine Events of Instruction

Breaks instruction down into nine distinct steps. Very focused on verbs and very rigid. A good tool for focusing lesson plans and providing a scaffold for instructional planning. Ganges is weak when it comes to eliciting creativity or allowing students a chance to take alternate paths to learn the same information, due to the rigidity of the nine steps.
Ganges NEoI is a good tool to use to help break instruction down in to digestible parts. Every time instruction is planned with Ganges NEoI it follows the same plan. This level of uniformity can also be useful in lesson planning because of the level of repetition/standardization and the ease of use.



Teaching for Understanding

Most flexible of the three theories. Focus on frequent adjustment of instruction based on assessments, feedback and observations. Instruction is differentiated and uses multiple intelligences. Due to flexible nature the overall goal may be lost or time could run out. Perhaps more useful in lower grade levels, harder to use in secondary when there is a lot of information and not a lot of time.


Teaching for Understanding (TfU) is perhaps best used in elementary schools where there is more time and bird walking is more acceptable. It is however a powerful tool for all designers because the overall idea is that the learners are understanding. TfU should always be taken into account when you are designing or implementing lesson plans. How can you make sure that your learners are understanding and what can you change in the lesson to help their understanding?

When planning lessons it is wise to take into account all three theories of design. None of the design theories are a one size fits all progam. At times it might be nice to have the flexibility of TfU or if you dont know what you want to do but you know where you need to get perhaps you want to use Wiggins. Ganges nine events can be useful when a specific learner outcome is desired.
The best to use for my class situation would be a mixture of Wiggins and Ganges. The desire is to get the learner to know the reasons for the start of the Mexican American War. The task does not require creativity to complete it just requires that the learners learn some basic facts. Know what fact should be learned (Wiggins) and following specific steps (Ganges) is the best way to get there.