How are learning theories in education arrived at? Dr. Alvior is generous enough to post her narrative on how she arrived at her theory of learning in higher education. She named it Alvior’s Theory of Learning in Higher Education. For students of curriculum development, this article is invaluable. See how learning theories in education develop. – Ed.
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Why and how do people learn in college? How does learning in that stage of the educational ladder take place? What is the process involved in it?
These are the questions bothering me in order to come up with my personal learning theory, the so-called Alvior’s Theory of Learning in Higher Education.
This personal theory was conceptualized in May 2008 due to the inspiration given by Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Tish” Bautista. She was my professor in Linguistics at De La Salle University, Manila in 2000.
She was then in my hometown in Puerto Princesa City for a brief vacation. I did not even know that she was in my place, but a friend told me that Dr. Tish was looking for me.
Dr. Tish gave me a book as a gift. The book contains visions for Philippine Education in honor of Br. Andrew Gonzalez with a dedication,
“For Mary, may the book be of help to you on your way to becoming an educational leader and innovator. God bless. Sincerely, Tish Bautista.”
I had misty eyes after reading it. I should be in the language field, but God placed me in the field of education. It was not my dream, but maybe God knows what is best for me or perhaps, it’s other people’s dream for me. Whatever it was, I took the challenge and my personal theory was based on the contents of that book — reaching our dreams.
Alvior’s Theory of Learning
How I Arrived at My Formula on Learning in Higher Education
I believe dream is the “in” thing now. Remember “Star Struck”? It has a dream, believe, survive line.
Every time I ask my friends, “Why were you able to have this and that? Or “Why were you able to do that?” Their answers are the same — because of our dreams.
Moreover, I read a book, “The Correct Formula for Success” by Henry R. Vargas. He developed a formula for success as follows:
Vargas Formula for Success = H + D + P + A/G
which means Hope plus Dream plus Plan plus Action divided by Goal.
I patterned my formula of learning in Higher Education from Vargas’ formula. We learn because of our dream. I call it the Alvior’s Theory of Higher Learning or ATHL.
Dreams make us what we want to become.
Why do we enroll in a particular course in college? It is our dream, or probably the dream of our parents, our friends, or people who have touched our lives, that we finish a college course. And their dreams for us become ours. Dreams make us what we want to become.
The Formula of Alvior’s Theory of Learning
The Alvior’s Theory of Higher Learning (ATHL) can be summed up as follows:
ATHL = D + P + A(M)/C
where D represents Dream, P means Plan, A refers to Action, M to Motivation, and C stands for Capacity.
Plan—is our blue print or our lesson plan. We need to concretize our plan for writing the steps on how to reach our dream. Without proper planning, we may be out of focus.
Action—is the implementation stage. We should act according to our plan.
Motivation – is the contributory factor why we are able to continually do or act according to our plan.
Capacity—is the determining factor whether we can achieve our dreams or not.
An Illustration of the Theory of Learning
The theory of learning is like traveling to a new place with your family and friends. And you are the only one who knows how to drive your car. Before you drive, you must be clear of your destination (DREAM).
For example, you might want to go to El Nido by land from Puerto Princesa City. But before going there, you check your car, the engine and tires. You make sure your car is capable of long travel even along bumpy roads. You have enough gasoline and you bring tools, extra tires, and oil. You also bring food, water, medicines and clothes (CAPACITY). Then you bring the map (PLAN) because it is your first time to be there. Then you drive well according to the map (ACTION) in order to reach the destination.
While driving, you enjoy looking at the scenery; enjoy talking, eating some junk foods and drinking your favorite cola or juice. You also think of the joy and excitement you will experience upon reaching the beautiful beaches and islands of El Nido. Your dream of a summer getaway will come true! You will go fishing, swimming and snorkeling with your family and friends amidst the cliffs of lime stones and the abundance of flora and fauna (MOTIVATION).
Suddenly, the engine stops working! But you have a support group, i.e., your family and friends to help you fix the engine and continue to drive. They motivate you to go on and the idea of reaching the beautiful place can add to your drive to continue. But it is your ability to fix, the tools and the oil that you bring with you (CAPACITY) can help you most to reach your destination, i.e., El Nido.
Alvior’s Theory of Learning Process
The theory of the learning process has two phases. The first phase (before one can learn) comprises DREAM, CAPACITY, and PLAN. The 2nd phase (the duration of learning or the actual learning period) consists of ACTION, MOTIVATION and CAPACITY.
Pre-learning Stage (Dream, Capacity, Plan)
Before you can learn, you should have a dream. What do you want to be?
Example Dream: I would like to go to America and to earn a lot of money.
If that is your dream or your parents’ dream for you, you choose a course that would help you reach your dream – finish a nursing course and be a registered nurse. The issue lies on your dream or your parents’ dream.
Nowadays, although most students enrolled in the nursing course do not really like nursing, they take this up for practical reasons, to reach the above stated dream.
After having your dream in focus, you look at your capacities. Capacities refer to your physical, intellectual, emotional, and financial capabilities.
Physical—Are you capable of waking up early or not sleeping so well due to a hectic schedule? Are you physically fit to do the course work and to render community service? If so, you are physically capable.
Intellectual—Gardner popularized multiple intelligences. Do you possess linguistic, logical-mathematical, inter- and intra-personal intelligences which are needed in your course? Do you also have triarchic intelligence as described by Sternberg? Do you think you have the intellectual capacity to reach your dream?
Emotional—Are you emotionally strong in seeing people suffer from pain and illness? Are you not afraid of blood or see someone dying? Are you emotionally mature to overcome the trials while undertaking the course?
Financial—Do you have enough money to pursue your course? If not, are you capable of producing it thru lending institutions? Or have you gotten a scholarship or sponsors? Do you think you can finish the course?
After checking out on the capabilities that you possess, you must have a plan. Write your dream on paper or your favorite word processor and the steps on how you will achieve it. If you prefer the electronic approach, print your plan so you will have something tangible to remind you each time.
The Learning Stage (Motivation, Capacity, Action)
A person learns if he is capable, motivated to learn, and acts according to his plan in reaching out his dream.
Now, how does learning take place?
How Learning Takes Place
A person has the ability to process information, and that information can be stored in his short-term and long-term memory. As he processes old or similar information, he can activate his schema (an outline or model of a plan – ed.). He can receive new information and form a new knowledge as well as meaning, which can be stored in his long-term memory once he finds it relevant or meaningful in his life.
There is a part in our brain that filters information and directs that information to an aspect of intelligence that can make it useful. Would that be for creative, analytic, or practical intelligence? The same part of the brain will also determine as to what domains of intelligence the information can become meaningful to the life of individual.
For example, if you are learning the Korean language, you can receive old and similar information and also new information which becomes meaningful to you. That part of the brain which I will call the Alvior’s Area will tell what aspects of intelligence and the domain of intelligence can be used in order to make it more useful and meaningful.
In the example given, that is, learning a language, you use the three aspects of intelligence (popularized by Sternberg): 1) you analyze sentences; 2) you create your own, and 3) you use it for communication, for business, or for gaining friends and establishing connections. Then you also use the domains of intelligence (popularized by Gardner) particularly the linguistic, interpersonal and interpersonal intelligences, because these are necessary for communication.
Learning a language is basically a communication process, you need someone to talk to and you must also clearly understand yourself in order to communicate. So this process captures the intellectual capacity being used in my theory.
I do believe that learning starts in the brain. But let me clarify that the processing of information is not only true to language but also to all information being inputted to a learner.
Nonetheless, learning can be tiresome and boring, difficult but challenging for many. They may continue or stop learning. Here, motivation can come in.
In my theory of learning, motivation is divided into two stages: the so-called “while on study” and the “post-study” periods.
During the first stage, the motivating factors are the social group (family and friends, classmates, professors), remuneration in terms of higher grades and scholarship package; whereas, the second stage, the motivating factors are good jobs and opportunities to travel or work abroad, higher pay and higher position in the institution or company that he is working with.
So, like the driver in the previous illustration, he thinks of and enjoys the benefits of traveling; and the idea of reaching his destination. A learner can do the same in order to continue learning. And of course, his capacity of learning must be tapped in the right time, right place, and under the right circumstances.
I believe that it’s not only the intellectual capacity that can determine learning. There are other capacities which I would like to include, such as physical, emotional and financial.
No matter how intelligent a person could be, if he is not physically healthy to do the required tasks for his course, he may stop learning. How could he be a nurse if he could not burn the midnight oil? Could he stay awake for a straight 24-hour service to the sick in the hospital?
Next is the emotional maturity of a person. Is he capable of being challenged or “tortured” by professors? Is he not easily affected by problems?
In language learning, we call it an affective filter hypothesis. If the affective filter is up, no learning can take place. So, in order for learning to take place, the learner must be emotionally mature to deal with all the problems that will come along his way.
Last, financial capacity matters. How can he support his study? How can he submit assignments and projects if he has no money for internet fee and other stuff? Thus, money plays a major role in order to learn.
I would like to cite an example. David, not his real name, is intelligent. He could be an engineer. He has a high motivation to learn or to be in college, but the parents, though not so poor, were unable to support him financially. As a result, he stopped studying and helped his parents earn a living.
Action is also important for learning. If you won’t do something or act in order to learn, you will not really learn.
As to the example given in reaching a destination, the act of driving is the action. The same is true for learning. You learn because you act to learn. No matter how intelligent you are, how motivated you are, and how capable you are, no matter how big your dream is, and how good your plan is, if you do not put these into action, you will never learn.
Thus, one must possess all the variables mentioned in order to learn.
To wrap it up, learning is multi-faceted. Learning starts in the cognitive domain – the brain. But there are contributory factors in order to help someone learn.
First, it starts with a dream, then a plan, and then the required action. In the formula given above, action is multiplied by motivation because motivation makes the person or helps the person to act. The action depends on how strong the motivation is given to him.
In addition, Dream plus Plan plus Action times Motivation divided by the capacity means that capacity determines if the person can learn or not, or is capable of continuing his learning or not.
Further, the theory is named Alvior’s Theory of Learning in Higher Education because it is my family name and my theory is designed to higher learning with a notion that a student is already learned and can still learn more complex ideas in his field. The situations and examples are suited to higher learning or for higher education only.
Like in the illustration, the driver knows already how to drive. He is already competent or a licensed driver, but it’s his first time to drive towards a place where he has not gone yet.
© 2014 May 26 M. G. Alvior