Teaching Theories: A Summary of 3 Different Theories of Learning

teaching theories

If you’re considering a career in education, you’ll likely want to do some research on teaching theories. These theories will help you reach your students in a way that will help them to learn. There are a number of helpful teaching theories including Erikson’s socioemotional development and Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Read below for a short summary on several teaching theories, and see how they can help you better reach your students.

Learn how to teach with your iPad with an online course.

Erikson’s Theory on Socioemotional Development

Erikson was a German psychoanalyst who came up with a theory regarding human development. He was a follower of Freud, but they differed on their theories in one way. Freud focused on biological instincts, and Erikson focused on social interaction. He came up with a theory he called the Eight Stages of Man in 1950. These eight stages were connected to ages as well. The eight stages are detailed further below. Teach children with learning disabilities with an online class.

  • Trust vs. Mistrust

In infancy, children develop a belief in their environment that their needs will be met. However, if the child’s needs are not met, they develop a belief that the world is not to be trusted. Though learned at a young age, this can still affect a child’s education as they will have difficulty believing that the teacher will also meet their basic physiological and social needs.

  • Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Toddlers can be very independent, and this independence is important for their autonomy. By exercising their independence, children learn what they can control and gain a sense of what their free will entails. They learn regret and sorrow when they lose self-control.  Children without independence are uncertain about making decisions on their own increasing the shame they feel when making an incorrect decision. This can affect their education as well.

  • Initiative vs. Guilt

Children interact with others even in early childhood, and they begin to explore their world and imagine things. They also begin to learn about guilt and feel remorse for their actions. When denied basic needs, children tend to have difficulty showing remorse, and this can affect their schooling when they act out in class.

  • Accomplishment/Industry vs. Inferiority

During the elementary school years, children begin to learn how to do things well and gain a sense of accomplishment. They learn this by comparing what they do to the standards of others. When teachers or parents scold the child for doing poorly, they gain a sense of inferiority and begin to think they can’t do anything right. They stop trying, deciding it’s not worth it to attempt anything.

  • Identity vs. Role Confusion

During adolescence, children begin to develop a sense of their self and begin creating their own internal thoughts and desires. When a child expresses their thoughts and desires, it’s important that they not be told their thoughts and desires aren’t really what they want. This can create confusion, and they will have difficulty discovering who they are and what they want from life.

  • Intimacy vs. Isolation

Although it’s important to show love throughout a child’s life, young adulthood is where a child truly begins to develop the ability to give and receive love. Instead of the short friendships they made during childhood, they begin to make longer, lasting commitments to relationships. If the student is isolated, their self-esteem and self-worth is crushed, and this can affect their studies.

  • Generativity vs. Stagnation

During middle adulthood, the desire to pass on knowledge comes upon a person, and they want to help guide the development of the next generation. However, for those that have had issues throughout their life they end up being stagnant in life with no idea where to turn next. Though not important for lower grades, this can have an impact on a college-student’s learning.

  • Ego Integrity vs. Despair

As the years continue to pass and death seems closer than birth, a person will begin to develop an acceptance of the way they lived their life and remember it with fondness. Those who had difficulties with past stages might feel a sense of despair, that death is closing in far too quickly and not enough has been done.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences

Like many philosophers, Gardner believed that people learned in different ways, and he identified seven different intelligences in 1991 to describe how different people learn. These seven intelligences are visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical. Each of these intelligences is detailed below. Teach with twitter and iPads; learn how by taking an online course.

  • Visual-Spatial

Students who learn in this manner tend to think in terms of physical space like architects do. They have a high awareness of their environments. Some great learning tools for these kinds of students are models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, videos, and other multimedia.

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic

Bodily-kinesthetic learners have a keen sense of body awareness. They’re very mobile and enjoy making things or touching. Some great tools to use for teaching these kinds of students involve hands-on learning, acting out, and role playing.

  • Musical

These students tend to have a sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They often study better with music playing in the background. Tools to reach these kinds of learners involve musical instruments, music, and songs. Learn how to teach guitar to your musical learners with an online class.

  • Interpersonal

Students of the interpersonal intelligence learn better when interacting with others. They tend to have a lot of friends and learn best in group activities. Good tools for these students involve conferencing, emails, and any other kind of social interaction that they can receive.

  • Intrapersonal

Intrapersonal learners prefer to be on their own with their own interests and goals. They learn best with independent study. Some tools to reach these learners involve books, diaries, and privacy. They learn best independently.

  • Linguistic

Linguistics involves words, and that’s exactly how linguistic learners learn. They have well-developed auditory skills and think in words rather than in vague ideas. They enjoy reading and writing. Tools you can use to reach these students include computer usage, books, and lectures.

  • Logical-Mathematical

Students in this field think abstractly and explore patterns and relationships. They tend to be very calculating. They enjoy experiments and solving puzzles. Some tools to reach these learners include logic games and mystery puzzles.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow believed that many theories didn’t quite capture the complexity of human behavior. As such, he came up with his hierarchy of needs. He believed that the lower needs needed to be met before a person could move on to higher needs influencing behavior. The hierarchy is detailed below. Read Allan Collins’ interview regarding his book Rethinking Education in this article.

  • Physiological

These are the most basic needs that any person requires just to survive. They include air, food, water, sleep, and other basic needs that will simply keep a body alive. Students who come to school hungry could be considered to be lacking in physiological needs.

  • Safety

Safety involves the proper environment, employment, availability of resources, health, and more. It’s important that a person fulfill their physiological needs before attempting to fulfill their safety needs. Students who live at the risk of becoming homeless can be considered lacking safety.

  • Belongingness

This particular hierarchy involves relationships. It involves the fulfillment of such needs like love, friendship, intimacy, and a connection with family. Under this theory, it is believed that people who have difficulty building relationships are lacking in physiological or safety needs. This can describe students with trust issues.

  • Esteem

This area involves a person’s confidence, respect, sense of achievement, and even self-esteem. A lack in this area involves a lack in one of the three areas before it. Students with low self-esteem could have this problem because of a lack in needs from one of the three areas before.

  • Self-Actualization

This area involves a person’s morality, creativity, problem solving abilities, and more. Once reaching this stage, the motivation to achieve further is not driven by deficiencies but instead a longing to grow. Students who have difficulties grasping problem solving or lack morality might have other needs that aren’t being met.

More Theories

There are a great number of teaching theories available, and there’s more information available even on the three summarized above. In truth, becoming a teacher is a bit like becoming an unpaid therapist because you might be the only one that teaches that little girl in your classroom how to trust people. Using these teaching theories, you can touch your students’ lives in ways that will last them a lifetime.