Would you agree or disagree with Carl Roger's and Edward Thorndike's learning theories and why?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Carl Roger's theory regarding learning was illustrated in his book Freedom to Learn for the 80s (1983). His theory was titled experiential learning. In this, Rogers defined the most suitable teacher (or facilitator) for learning. The most suitable teacher would: 1) Be real, genuine, and engage students; 2) Will accept each individual learner as he or she is (including his or her fears, strengths, weaknesses, and goals); 3) Be empathetic towards the learner.

Edward Thorndike's theory regarding learning is similar to B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning because of its reliance on reward and punishment. Thorndike's theory contained three laws: Law of Effect, Law of Exercise, and Law of Readiness. Thorndike's Law of Effect relies upon behaviors built by naturalizing certain cause and effects. In a sense, each time a behavior is exhibited, the outcome will have the same effect. His Law of Exercise is rather simple: if something is not used it becomes weak, therefore a behavior continued time and time again becomes strong. Lastly, Thorndike's Law of Readiness refers to the physical readiness of the organism (in this case, student).

As for agreeing or disagreeing with either of the theories, each have their place within the classroom.

The advantages of Rogers' theory are that they partner the teacher with the individual student in learning. This said, some students tend to manipulate a teacher in these situations (disadvantage).

As for Thorndike's theory, an advantage of his application is seen in PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). PBIS, in recent years, has become the route many schools are taking. This method shows students that hard work (and good behavior) is rewarded. The disadvantage of this theory is that some students will only work for reward. This can be averted if the school uses a partial reinforcement schedule instead of a continuous reinforcement schedule).