Learning is an integral component of development since it is the mechanism that leads to the acquisition of new knowledge, behaviors, and abilities (Zhou & Brown, 2015). Some prominent theories applied in teaching/learning include behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, and humanism. However, most of these theories contradict some elements of teaching. For instance, while behaviorism promotes passive learning, constructivism encourages active participation (Zhou & Brown, 2015). This essay incorporates biblical teachings and the views of the existing theories to propose a more reliable theory of learning. Subtopics included in the body are learning theory and its importance, description of an effective teacher, an effective learning environment, inclusion and engagement of learners with diverse needs, behavior and character development, engagement, building self-efficacy, and motivation, and conclusion.
Learning Theory and Its Importance
A learning theory is a set of principles that explain how individuals acquire, process, and retain knowledge in the learning process (Zhou & Brown, 2015). The theory should particularly demonstrate how the environment might influence the acquisition and retention of knowledge. A learning theory is important as it establishes a basis upon which teachers can foster learners' success. Mainly, a theory guides the development of the designs and delivery of teaching that boosts effectiveness (Zhou & Brown, 2015). In other words, learning theory is a blueprint that can improve learning outcomes.
Description of an Effective Teacher
The primary feature of teacher effectiveness should be the ability to provide meaningful instructions and guidelines. In the bible, Jesus, who set precedents for teaching, leveraged competency, and explicit instructions to shape the behaviors of disciples and other followers. In the sermon on the Mountain, Jesus offered explicit instructions that disciples needed to follow to enter the kingdom of heaven and enjoy other God's favors (Perrotta, 2010). For instance, He told them that they needed to be poor in heart to gain a chance of entering the kingdom of heaven. Also, in Exodus 18:20 (New King James), Jethro, Moses' father in law, advised him to teach people the decrees and instructions of God so that they could adopt godly lives. Therefore, even in earthly teaching, teachers should be able to guide learners.
Apart from teacher's instructive ability, teacher effectiveness should also be defined by the application of empathy and humanism. The traditional teaching philosophies, particularly those oriented to behaviorism, tend to define teacher effectiveness in terms of how he/she influences learners' behaviors using rewards and punishments (Zhou & Brown, 2015). In these philosophies, a teacher has absolute authority over students, and the latter have to obey all the rules without getting directly involved in the learning process. However, the bible discourages this approach. For example, Titus 2:7-8 (New King James) directs teachers to have some integrity such that critics will lack anything to object their teaching approaches. Perhaps, Ephesians 6: 4 (New King James) offers a more accurate view of the teacher as it prohibits fathers from provoking the anger of their children. Assuming teachers play the role of father -offering directions -it is reasonable to conclude that they should always treat children humanely. Indeed humanist theorists require teachers to be good role models to learners (Zucca-Scott, 2010). Hence, an effective teacher should be able to establish a good relationship with learners to enhance collaboration in the learning process. Lastly, an effective teacher has excellent communication skills characterized by message clarity and inclusion of all students. For instance, Jesus was an excellent communicator, as evidenced by His incorporation of rhetoric that enhanced message delivery (Olson, 2014). Apart from the inclusion of parables and God's teachings, Jesus accorded every follower equal chances of contributing to the decision-making process. Thus, a teacher should not discriminate against some students; instead, he/she should accord each student chances of seeking clarification and participating in discussions equally.
An Effective Learning Environment
An effective learning environment is the one that promotes learner centeredness. Proponents of constructivism view individuals to be active learners as they can interpret happenings in their surroundings. Jean Piaget, who postulated the theory of cognitive development, argued that humans make meaning of the interactions between their experiences and ideas (Zhou & Brown, 2015). Similarly, in his theory of social constructivism, Lev Vygotsky emphasized the role that experiences play in shaping learning (Zhou & Brown, 2015). Therefore, an effective environment should involve engaging activities as well as encourage students' participation. Experimentation, class discussions, field trips, and research projects should characterize this environment. Teachers should avoid overriding these discussions and instead delegate them to learners. The role of a teacher in such an environment, therefore, should be facilitating, coaching, or modeling learners, but not to override every aspect of learning.
Moreover, teachers need to establish appropriate classroom management techniques to support the constructive approach. In particular, there should be spaces in between students' desks to enable students to move with ease during practical activities. This layout facilitates inclusivity by facilitating interactions among learners. In addition to the class layout, a constructivist class involves letting students establish group rules, encouraging questions, and recognizing and appraising learners who achieve group expectations (Gunduz & Hursen, 2015). Even in the bible, Jesus ensured the involvement of His students in almost every teaching session through parables, experiences, and questions that encouraged disciples' participation.
An effective learning environment should also leverage technology to facilitate critical activities, comprehension, and inclusivity. Here, the teacher needs to post course materials and term activities on online class forums to enable students to learn at their pace (Srithar & Selvaraj, 2015). Besides, some technologies can be applied to make learning enjoyable, like the use of films, PowerPoint projections, and digital illustrations. Also, organizational software can support students in brainstorming and displaying their ideas. In addition to that, onscreen word banks can assist students in spelling or constructing meaningful sentences (Reid & Fawcett, 2008). Another fascinating technology is talking books that convey content in electronic formats like real photos, videos, and animations, which make reading motivating and fun.
Inclusion and Engagement of Learners with Diverse Needs and Exceptionalities
In promoting inclusion, tutors should implement the universal design principles that embody representation, actions and expressions, and engagement (Dalton, 2017). Overall, these principles promote flexibility, reduced requirement for physical efforts, and tolerance for error. Presentation of contents in diverse instructional formats is also a notable feature of universal design principles that boosts the inclusion of different learners (Dalton, 2017). More fundamentally, tutors need to promote an inclusive culture by formulating policies that can discourage discrimination against disabled learners. Likewise, they should reinforce such a culture by application of inclusive languages and respect for all social groups. In establishing discussion groups, teachers need to consider learners with special needs. As such, they should ensure the availability of relevant technologies and categorize these learners inclusively. Such arrangements create mindsets oriented to inclusivity.
Furthermore, tutors need to leverage technology to meet the needs of students with diverse needs and disabilities. Notably, students may lack vision, hearing, comprehension, or locomotive abilities that restrict their participation. The bible seems to support the use of assistive technology as Hebrews 12: 13 (New King James) requires people to make level paths to support the lame in overcoming the barriers imposed by their health conditions. Also, Leviticus 19:14 (New King James) advocates for inclusive education as it admonishes people who curse the deaf or put a stumbling barrier in front of the blind. Indeed, Jesus ensured the inclusivity of the disabled in his teachings by healing the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the deaf. There are educational technologies that should be used to foster inclusivity. For instance, a class may need to have text to speech software to support the comprehension of slow learners or those with blurred vision (Robitaille, 2010). Besides, talking calculators can promote the learning of students who suffer from dyscalculia in completing assignments, reading numbers, and performing calculations (Robitaille, 2010). Also, tutors may need to use videotaped social skills to support the learning of autistic learners.
Behavior and Character Development
Prosocial behaviors can be built by establishing rules to guide students' behaviors. Such rules should discourage learners from engaging in drug abuse, using abusive languages, and neglecting assignments. Moreover, the tutor should incorporate parents in most of the learning activities so that they can monitor their children's behaviors. This inclusive approach to behavioral management reduces opportunities for nonconformity, which promotes positive behaviors. Additionally, the tutor needs to promote religious beliefs, which support morality. He/she may, for example, dedicate some minutes at the start of every lesson for bible readings that emphasize morality. Lastly, teachers should act as role models by demonstrating appropriate behaviors as humanist theorists present role modeling as a way of teaching children (Zhou & Brown, 2015).
Notably, the above behavioral strategies can result in positive characters. However, the tutor needs also to implement mechanisms to promote learners' self-esteem that is a critical element of personality (Gunduz & Hursen, 2015). Having an inclusive culture, as proposed earlier, is a suitable way of promoting positive characters. In essence, participation in classroom activities should build self-confidence. However, in promoting behavior and character development, the tutor needs to leverage motivational techniques like recognition of exceptional achievements.
Engagement, Building Self-Efficacy, and Motivation
Student engagement is enhanced by a collaborative approach to teaching that uses strategies discussed elsewhere in the essay, like discussion and experiments (Gunduz & Hursen, 2015). However, a teacher can also foster student engagement by starting a lesson with a fun, such as storytelling or requiring learners to participate in a reflective activity. To promote self-efficacy, the teacher should constantly encourage students to undertake complex assignments and praise them even when they achieve insignificant improvements. It is also vital to avoid discouraging them. Recognition is a reliable motivational technique, but the teacher will also improve learners' motivation by incorporating fun and exciting technologies (Panisoara et al., 2015).
Both the existing learning theories and the bible indicate that an effective learning theory should be characterized by student-centeredness, promotion of engagement, motivation and behaviors and character, an...
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