Meaningful learning

If I have to choose one of the three main schools of psychology that have contributed to learning processes:

  • Cognitivist school which looks at the thinking processes when we learn

  • Behaviourist school which looks how teacher behaviour and other external factor in the learning process

  • Humanistic school which looks at learner’s emotional and development needs

I choose the way I like to learn, “learning by doing“, because I believe that helping the students to make their own sense of what are studying and enable them to make use of their learning is meaningful learning, and it will develop “live-long learning”.

The cognitivist learning theory called “constructivism” agrees that learning occurs when students construct their own meaning, their instructional experience. Metacognitive approach in education says that when we learn something new you connect neuron in your brain to create a network, which encodes this new learning, the new learning is connected to your existing learning.

Taking into account these ideas, we can distinguish between deep learning and surface learning Ramsden (1988):

  • Deep learning: learners construct their own meaning and it makes connections between new and existing learning

  • Surface learning: facts and concepts are associated unreflectively

Surface learning is only memorising and two weeks later forgetting, deep learning is creating connection for a long live learning.

How can we help students to develop meaningful learning?

  • What learners do is more important than what teacher does

  • Use fat questions to scaffold the learning processes

  • We as teachers need to set high-order task

  • We learn by doing

  • Make learning fun

Further reading:

Comprehension checking questions

How to transfer from STM to LTM

Skinny and fat questions

Bloom’s taxonomy