Comparison Between Behaviorism and Cognitive Theories in Tesol

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Name: Võ Thị Minh Phương Class: DIP12A Due date: January 6th 2013 COMPARISON BETWEEN BEHAVIORISM AND COGNITIVE THEORIES IN TESOL After decades of development of learning theories, many approaches have been inspired and researched basing on the two most popular theories, behaviorism and cognitive theories. Because of their diverse significant devotion at a certain period in pedagogical history, these theories have been brought on debate over and over, to answer the fundamental question of what is learned (Navarick, 2002). “The primary difference between these two theories is the emphasis on overt behavior in behavioral theory and in cognitive theory, the focus is on cognition or individual thought processes” (Corey, 2009, as cited in Stone,…show more content…
2). Unlike behaviorism, cognitive theories define motivation mostly as intrinsic factors so that learners have to motivate themselves and encounter limitations when adapting new knowledge. When learning takes place, students link the new information to the old one, deciding to modify or abandon the existing knowledge to learn new things. For that reason, extrinsic reinforcements such as rewards and punishments are less appreciated (University of California, n.d., para. 4). The Graduate Student Instructors Center of University of California goes on to say that learning is a process of active knowledge input and the role of instructor is significantly emphasized. It means teachers are required to create suitable environments where only proper behaviors are encouraged. As a result, learners are able to assimilate previous knowledge and accommodate the new one (Peters, n.d., para. 1). For those reasons, what makes cognitive theories different from behaviorism is that cognitive theories put learner as center and forces them to be more active in learning process. Although being developed with opposite features, behaviorism as well as cognitive theories shares some similarities which support each other in some ways, like what Atkisson stated, “though the two movements are different, cognitive does

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