Below is a short explanation of each of these psychologists’ theories and why they are important to learn about or how they connect to education .
When Piaget gave IQ tests to children, he became intrigued when the answered incorrectly. This led him to believe that children aren’t just “less competent thinkers” than adults, which was the belief that people held during that time. He also believed that everyone has schema. Schema is basically what a person already knows, and how they use what they already know to perform tasks or to learn. Piaget constructed the four stages of development: sensorimotor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage, and formal operational stage. Each stage is important to development. We study Piaget today because he was the first to help everyone realize that children do not think or learn the same way as adults.
Unlike Piaget, Vygotsky believed that learning comes before development. He developed the Social Development Theory. In the theory, more emphasis is placed on the “social contributions to the process of development.” He also believed in “more knowledgeable other” because of the fact that he believed that learning is more social. “More knowledgeable other” is where another person with higher knowledge helps (or tutors) the child. This can be applied to the classroom because the teacher (who has more knowledge), helps the child.
Bandura believed that children see other people’s behaviors and “study” the behaviors and later imitate them. It is believed that the children are more likely to follow the behaviors of people most like themselves. Next, when the child acts out the behavior, it is either responded with reinforcement or with punishment. Before this happens, though, a child takes into account what happens when the person they intend to imitate gets responses to their behavior. This is called the social learning theory. It is important to study today because it could be a reason why children act they way they do.
Operant Conditioning, which is what Skinner believed, is an approach where someone looks at the cause of an action and its consequences. Like Bandura, Skinner believed that when someone acted out a behavior, there were reactions to it, which led them to behave that way again, or to not behave that way again. There is positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and neutral operants. This is important in the classroom because teachers are can be the ones reinforcing the behaviors.