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Proposers and InterpretersIn general, there are two types of literature about learning theory: that produced by proposers of theories (who tend to be single-minded), and that produced by interpreters of theories (who tend to be reconciliatory). Admittedly, the distinction between proposers and interpreters is not absolute. For instance, some theorists, such as Pressey, Estes,Lorge, Gagné, Hilgard, and Huhlen, have made contributions of both sorts.Table 6.1presents a historic list of the major early proposers and interpreters in the literature of learning theory. To keep the list reasonably short, we have defined “major” as those who have made the greatest impact on the thinking of others. Those making contributions of both sorts have been placed inthe column representing their major work. To provide a senseof historical development, the theorists are listed more or less in the order of appearance in the evolving body of literature.Table 6.1
Propounders and interpreters of learning theoryThe proliferation of proposers has presented a major challenge to the interpreters in their quest to bring some sort of order to learning theories. Researchers have exerted considerable effort in their attempts to structure the knowledge. However, no single, unified classification emerged from their early efforts. For instance, Hilgard and Bower identify 11 categories of theories, McDonald identifies6, and Gage names 3. Hilgard and Bower’s (1966) 11 categories are:· Connectionism (Thorndike)· Classical conditioning (Pavlov)· Contiguous conditioning (Guthrie)· Operant conditioning (Skinner)· Systematic behavior theory (Hull)
· Purposive behaviorism (Tolman)· Gestalt theory (Koffka and Kahler)· Psychodynamics (Freud)· Functionalism· Mathematical learning theory· Information processing models.McDonald (1964, pp. 1–26) breaks the theories down into sixcategories in his analysis:· Recapitulation (Hull)· Connectionism (Thorndike)· Pragmatism (Dewey)· Gestalt and field theory (Ogden, Hartman, Lewin)· Dynamic psychology (Freud)· Functionalism (Judd).Gage (1972, p. 19) identifies three families of learning
theories: (1) conditioning; (2) modeling; and (3) cognitive. Kingsley and Garry (1957, p. 83) provide two sets: (1) association or stimulus–response (Thorndike, Guthrie, and Hull) and (2) field theories (Lewin, Tolman, and the Gestalt psychologists). Taba (1962, p. 80) agrees with the two-familyset, but uses different labels: (1) associationist or behavioristtheories; and (2) organismic, gestalt, and field theories.These exhibits profile some of the debate in arranging the disparate categories of theories into a definitive pattern.Learning theories primarily fall into two major families: behaviorist/ connectionist theories and cognitive/gestalt theories, but not all theories fit clearly into these two families. The behaviorist theories include such diverse theories as those of Thorndike, Pavlov, Guthrie, Skinner, and Hull. The cognitive theories include at least those of Tolman and the classical gestalt psychologists. The theories of