Learning Theory and Christian Leadership

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Author: 
Dennis McCallum

Introduction

Christian leadership involves influencing others. We want to be able to influence people to do God's will, much of which requires a certain level of expertise in order to be effective (witnessing, teaching, discipling, etc.). This means that in the first place, the leader is concerned with the learning process, and how to bring about rapid and permanent learning.

Also, when psychologists refer to learning, they mean not only learning facts about a subject, but learning behaviors. A child must learn to walk, talk, and feed herself. Christians must learn to pray, study, love others, admit sin etc. The leader not only must demonstrate and explain how these and other things are done, she must also cause the learner to desire to do such things. Learning has occurred when the learner exhibits the learned behavior regularly and without prompting from others.

Erickson reports that an amazing 94% of college teachers studied in one scientific survey rate themselves above average as teachers. Yet obviously only less than half are really above average. The others are self-deceived. This may also be the case with us.

To prevent such a fate, we will enter into a study of learning theory as it relates to leadership. We will focus on two of the major schools of thought in this area--Behaviorism-Social Learning, and Cognitive-Discovery approaches. Both have much to offer the thoughtful Christian leader.

Behaviorism

Important names in Behaviorism

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1949). His studies with reflex reactions paved the way to behaviorism. He discovered Classical Conditioning, which involves pairing a stimulus with a reinforcement, leading to a response.

E. L. Thorndike (1874-1949) Postulated laws of "Readiness, Exercise, and Effect." He is called the dean of American educational psychology. See his laws of learning in Fig. 1.

Insight: Thorndike—Three Laws of Learning (Figure 1)

Edward L. Thorndike formulated three primary laws of learning: readiness, exercise, and effect.

1. The Law of Readiness. This law simply means that an organism will learn more quickly if it is ready to learn. For example, if you are hungry, not having eaten all day long, and someone invites you to go to a hamburger stand, you are going to respond immediately because of your readiness to do so. In your classroom, if you conduct the class in such a manner as to have the children anticipating with excitement the particular item or principle or event about which they are going to learn, they will be much more apt to learn it.

2. The Law of Exercise. This law, by its very title, gives itself away. Exercise strengthens the bond between stimulus and response. To put it another way, the more one practices a certain response, the more apt it is to be retained. In your classroom, if your students are learning the numbers to be multiplied, such as two times two, or four times four, and then the appropriate answer, the more times this is gone over, the more probable it is your students will retain the results.

3. The Law of Effect. A response (behavior) is strengthened if it is followed by pleasure and weakened if followed by displeasure. That is, of course, the forerunner of B.F. Skinner's reinforcement theory. It is the idea of a reward's strengthening any particular behavior.

Critics of Thorndike's laws of learning emphasize that they appear to be quite mechanical, they do not appear to leave room for any sort of cognitive processing on the part of the student and they do not require that there be any kind of purposiveness in humankind.

A major advance in behaviorism stems from the work of Clark Hull at Yale in the 1930's. His research and theory made motivation ("drive reduction") the critical factor in reinforcement.

John B. Watson (1874-1949) has been called the "father of American behaviorism."

B. F. Skinner is considered the Father of operant conditioning, and the principle spokesman for behaviorism for many years. Operant conditioning is a type of learning where a given behavior is followed either by reinforcement (leading to the strengthening of that behavior), nothing (leading to the weakening of that behavior), or punishment (leading to aversion to that behavior). This is different than classical conditioning, where the stimulus precedes or accompanies the response.

Important Terms in Behaviorism

  • Instrumental Conditioning - A type of learning where the "response" or behavior of the learner is instrumental in determining the amount and type of reinforcement received. For lay purposes, instrumental conditioning can be considered synonymous with operant conditioning.
  • Contingency reinforcement - refers to units of learning where reinforcement is contingent upon behavior. A contingency of reinforcement is a sequence within which a response is followed by a reinforcing stimulus. The "operant" (any particular behavior) is conditioned to occur more frequently, less frequently, or not at all-- depending upon whether it is reinforced, ignored, or punished.
  • Positive reinforcement - When any behavior is followed by positive reinforcement, that behavior will strengthen. A positive reinforcer needs to be desirable to the learner.
  • Negative reinforcement - if response leads to the termination of aversive stimulus it will occur more frequently. For example, if wearing a coat reduces the pain of cold, we will tend to wear a coat more frequently.
  • Loss of reinforcement - behavior will weaken if its occurrence consistently leads to the loss of reinforcers.
  • Punishment - Any unpleasant consequence following a behavior consistently tends to weaken that behavior.
  • Modeling - The presentation of behavior to the subject in the hope that it will be imitated.
  • Stimulus paring - The function of any stimulus can transfer to any previously neutral stimulus, if they are consistently paired.
  • Stimulus repetition - Any stimulus presented repeatedly or for a long period of time will lose some or all of its stimulus value.
  • Schedules of reinforcement - Different schedules affect behavior in different ways. With all schedules, the interval between the behavior and the reinforcement has to be quite short to be effective, especially when learning new behaviors. Otherwise, the learner loses the connection between the reinforcement and the behavior. With dogs, for instance, the effectiveness of reinforcement is at its highest 1/2 of one second after the behavior occurs, and rapidly falls off after 10 seconds. Times are somewhat longer for humans. Once a behavior is learned, the interval can be much greater, or reinforcement can even be missing altogether some of the time, without weakening the behavior. The main schedules of reinforcement referred to in operant conditioning are:
    • Continuous - rewarding every time the desired behavior occurs.
    • Intermittent - only some of the times the behavior occurs. Types of intermittent reinforcement include:
      • Fixed Ratio - reward every second or fourth response etc.
      • Fixed Interval - rewarding every two or four minutes etc.
      • Variable Interval - sporadic rewarding of desired response
      • Variable Ratio - rewarding desired responses every few incidents of response, according to an unpredictable schedule.

Assessment

Strict Behaviorism focuses on contingent reinforcement learning. There can be little doubt that conditioning of the kind demonstrated by behaviorists is a real fact of life. They have merely dissected and analyzed a process that we are all familiar with anyway, and they have subjected it to extensive laboratory testing. Their experiments with learning in animals have made it possible to draw important conclusions about how learning occurs. These findings have also been confirmed to a great extent in experiments with humans.

However, some of the philosophical and experimental claims made by behaviorists are open to question. Their basic "S-R" (stimulus-response) approach to behavior leaves much in human behavior unexplained. We will consider some of the important implications of behaviorist research for Christian leadership later. For now, I suggest we acknowledge that operant and classical conditioning account for some, but not all learning in humans. Classic behaviorism is an oversimplified understanding of human behavior.

Social Learning Theory

In the social learning model, we have a more complete and palatable framework for understanding learning. Social learning theory fills many of the gaps in sophisticated human learning that pure (or "radical") behaviorism has failed to explain.

Albert Bandura, a professor at Stanford University, is considered the father of social learning theory. Social learning theory is based on behaviorism, but different in four ways:

  1. The way a child acquires a novel behavior can come from imitation of others as well as chance happening onto a behavior followed by reinforcement. Therefore, new behaviors are not "lucky hits" but the result of actual attempts to reproduce what they observe. This amounts to vicarious conditioning. It is not necessary for the person to experience the reinforcement himself, he can watch another's experience, and embrace the other's conditioning as his own.
  2. The manner in which one learns from models Five distinct steps to this kind of learning are detailed by Bandura. See the insight box on "Learning from Models" (Fig. 2).

Insight: Learning from Models (Figure 2)

The process of learning from models consists of five main functions:

1. The child must attend to the pertinent clues. The child may misdirect her attention at the time the model is observed, and therefore fail to perform the behavior properly later. A teacher can help by directing the child's attention to those parts of the model's performance that are most important.

2. The child must code for memory. That is, a visual image must be stored in the memory for the particular behavior that the child has witnessed. Older children learn more readily from looking at others' performances than do younger children, because of the cumulative effect of the storage in the memory. The development of language, and of schemes for coding the observations, improves the child's ability to profit from watching models.

3. The child must be able to retain in her memory that which she has observed, so that it will be available when needed. Memories do fade or disappear with time, so memory-aiding techniques such as rehearsal or review or practice help to maintain the image in the child's memory.

4. The child must reproduce the observed motor activities accurately. The child must not only get the idea of the behaviors to perform but she must also get the muscular feel of behavior. According to Bandura, usually the child cannot do this perfectly on the first trial, and thus the child needs a number of trials in which she seeks to approximate the behavior. The older child will probably perform the model activities better, because her muscular development is better advanced than the younger child's.

5. The child must be motivated to carry through all the steps in the process of learning from models. The crucial role of the consequences of the behavior enter the picture at this point. The child must understand that in the future this would be a good way to behave under particular sets of circumstances.

Bandura has also done laboratory research which demonstrates important facts about who will be modeled. See the insight box on "Which Models are Children Likely to Follow?" (Fig. 3). Dr. Bandura states that, "In our research at Stanford University we have found that almost any learning outcome that results from direct experience can also come about on a vicarious basis through observation of other people's behavior and its consequences for them."

Insight: Which Models are Children Likely to Follow? (Figure 3)

Experimental studies show that:

1. Children are more likely to model their own behavior after the actions of people they look upon as important, than after people whom they do not look upon as important.

2. Children are more likely to adopt behavior patterns from models of their own sex than from models of the opposite sex.

3. Models who receive rewards such as fame, high society status, or money are more influential with children than those who do not have these kinds of rewards.

4. Models who are punished for their behavior are usually not followed by the children.

5. Children follow models who are more similar to themselves in age or social status than those who appear to the child to be quite different from himself or herself.

6. Through the observation of models, Bandura believes that children can add new options to their repertoire of possible behaviors, and figure out under which circumstances these options should be used.

From A. Bandura and R.H. Walters, Social Learning and Personality Development (New York Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1963). pp. 10-11, 50, 84, 94-100.

  1. The influence of consequences on future actions: Rather than agree with radical behaviorists that a reinforcement will automatically result in repetition of the response, Bandura says, "Although the issue is not yet completely resolved, there is little evidence that reinforcers function as automatic shapers of human conduct. . . A vast amount of evidence lends validity to the view that reinforcement serves principally as an informative and motivational operation rather than as a mechanical response strengthener." Therefore he believes that consequences act as regulators and informers for future behavior, not as "Conditioners."
  2. The development of complex behaviors: Children typically acquire large segments of new behavior at once, not gradual bits of learning based on simple reinforcement. However, he agrees that future use of the once learned behavior will depend on schedule of reinforcement.

Social learning theorists call Skinner's view "radical behaviorism." One of the main advantages to social learning theory is that it makes room for the affective and intuitive aspects of learning. As Barlow argues,

The work of neuropsychologists in recent years has given credence to the idea that intuitive creative, synthesizing thought is as valuable as analytical thought. . . educators now regard the affective component to learning as complimentary to the cognitive; believing that feelings, values, and attitudes are important in cognitive learning.

Assessment

Behaviorism has been vigorously denounced by evangelical authors and preachers. While most of this criticism is deserved from the theistic perspective, Christian leaders and educators may overlook the positive contributions from behaviorism to a Christian understanding of human motivation and learning. The fact is that God resorts to operant conditioning in dealing with people, even though without the mechanistic overtones implied in radical behaviorism. Also, instrumental, or operant conditioning is apparently called for in the rearing of children (Prov. 6:23; 10:13; 13:24; 15:10; 19:18; 22:15; 22:13; 23:14; 26:3). Rewards and punishments are evident in both the Old and New testaments. Can you name any examples?

Skinner's over-all approach is expressly anti-biblical because it is based on monistic materialism (i.e. that there is nothing but matter in the universe-atheism). He argues,

A person does not support a religion because he is devout; he supports it because of the contingencies arranged by the religious agency. We call him devout and teach him to call himself devout and report what he feels as "devotion."

Clearly, this position is objectionable at least part of the time. The question is, can we benefit from a perspective that grows out of an unacceptable philosophical base? Here the answer should be, "yes." Skinner's efforts to explain everything on the basis of contingent reinforcement fail, but this does not mean he fails to explain some things. Even in the field of religion, how would the Christian best explain devotion in another religious complex that is unbiblical? Why is the Muslim devoted? Indeed, why do nominal Christians practice their liturgies? In many of these cases, the best answer is probably to be found in the area of contingent reinforcement.

Behavioral engineering is myopic and simplistic in its understanding of human behavior, but it does seem to account for many behavioral patterns. It also makes no distinction between legitimate training and manipulation.

Punishment

Behaviorists criticize the typical classroom for failure to provide positive reinforcement in learning. Extra homework, scolding, withdrawal of privileges, and spanking (all in the punishment category) tend to be the main tools of motivation in ineffective classrooms.

Notice that punishment is different than negative reinforcement, both in intent and effect. Negative reinforcement directly reinforces desired behavior (by the reward of drive abatement or reduction of irritating stimuli) while punishment relates not to desired behavior, but to undesirable behavior. The hope is, of course, that terminating negative behavior will leave only desired behavior, but this is not necessarily the result. For this reason, punishment has severe limitations on its ability to encourage behavior or learning. Barlow explains:

The student who is kept at his work by punishment may learn to dislike school. Punishment often causes the child to be hostile, to dislike the one administering the punishment, to become stubborn. . . However it is important for the child to know that, if necessary, the teacher or principal will use the strong forms of punishment. Although punishment is necessary in our view, it should be used sparingly and wisely.

Ericksen agrees,

"Basic and applied research on reinforcement confirms the dominance of reward over punishment. This reminder is relevant to instruction because it is so easy to make comments that are critical, negative, caustic, and threatening about what a student believes, says, and does. A direct or implied put-down to a student can quickly undo the tenuous allegiance and feelings of identification toward the teacher and the area of knowledge he or she represents.

One explanation for the high rate of forgetting what was once read or heard is that this information is never, or rarely, reinforced by subsequent events in the students life. . ."

The application for the Christian leader seems to be that positive reinforcers that are appreciated by the learner need to be devised and employed in connection with learning. We may foolishly neglect to use positive reinforcement, which accounts for reduced effectiveness in our attempts to motivate others.

Improper Reinforcement

Another possible error would be to accidentally apply reinforcement (either positive or negative) to undesirable rather than desired behavior. For instance, a member may be irritated by the lack of attention shown by a leader. Then, as spiritual problems and grumbling surface in the member's life, the leader rushes in to avoid crisis. The result is that the undesirable behavior is accidentally reinforced.

Schedules of reinforcement need to be carefully considered in leadership as well. Improper schedule of reinforcement can result in a complete breakdown in learning.

For example, ultimate rewards from education (e.g. that the student can get a good job, that she can become a Bible teacher, etc.) are not effective as positive reinforcers because they are ultimate--they are not experienced until the end of the educational process which is far too long an interval for effective reinforcement. A student may really want to be a teacher, but does this help when he is trying to concentrate on his studies on a weekday night? We need to consider what would constitute good immediate reinforcement in a learning situation.

Interestingly, intermittent schedules of reinforcement are far more effective in eliciting academic learning behavior than a continuous schedule. Ericksen says,

So far as teaching is concerned, a significant finding is the holding power of being reinforced only once in a while--the slot-machine or patient fisherman phenomenon. For reasons that are still a matter of theoretical debate, material learned under conditions of aperiodic [intermittent and irregular] reinforcement remains in memory better than if it were learned under constant or regular reinforcement. Information from the teacher that the student is correct need not be given after every response.

[At this point, we have students read Robert F. Mager, Developing Attitude Toward Learning. (Palo Alto, CA: Fearon Publishers. 1968) chapters 5-7 on closed reserve at the study center. Mager explains how to recognize an approach response toward the subject matter in education and how to reinforce it.]

In the case where no approach response is being exhibited by members, reinforcement cannot have effect. It is only after a desired behavior is seen that reinforcement can be used. However, if only part of the desired response is seen, that part can be reinforced and later chained together with the other parts to result in the full behavior.

In order to provoke an approach response toward learning, vicarious learning might be the solution. Modeling and reinforcing those who do demonstrate approach response in the presence of those who do not may result in movement in this area.

In the case where a desirable behavior is identified (such as an approach response to the subject matter being studied), the next step is to reinforce that behavior appropriately.

Questions for Study

  1. Name 4 kinds of positive reinforcement you can use for members in your cell group. Give examples.
  2. Name 2 kinds of negative reinforcement available for your cell members. Give examples.
  3. Name 2 kinds of punishing stimuli and situations where they might legitimately appear. Avoid extreme examples.
  4. Skinner says, ". . . the careless teacher will reinforce the attention-getter and the showoff." It would be equally easy to accidentally reinforce self-centeredness, gloominess, or neurotic behavior. Can you name occasions where you have done this, or have seen it done?
  5. A child asks, "What is wrong with stealing, if it doesn't hurt somebody?" Considering that stealing is a behavior, how would you explain this behavior in behavioristic terms? Wrong reinforcers used? Wrong schedule of reinforcement?
  6. Should a token economy be used in a classroom? What are the advantages or disadvantages?
  7. According to Bandura's list of factors in modeling (Fig. 2 p. 5), models who are punished for their behavior are usually not followed by the children. If you, as a leader, complain about the burden you feel, would this affect your modeling ability?
  8. Based on principle #1 on modeling (Fig. 3 p. 6) how can Home Church leaders affect the perception of their members in the area of leader importance?
  9. Lack of reinforcement weakens a given behavior. How does this fact apply to Home Church work? Can you identify some times when lack of reinforcement was employed to good effect in weakening undesirable behavior? What types of behavior might merit lack of reinforcement?
  10. A child of 2 and his mother are in a room with a stairway adjoining. She forbids him to climb the steps, but he begins to do so anyway. She threatens him with spanking, but he continues. She advances and swats him on the rear and brings him back into the middle of the room. He not only doesn't cry, but promptly returns to the steps and begins to climb. After 5 returns with swats, the child seems undeterred. Mom finally picks him up screaming and holds him, so he cannot repeat the behavior. What is wrong in this scenario from a behaviorist perspective?
  11. Where might you need to change your habits in the area of schedule of reinforcement? If reinforcement is used too often, it loses its effectiveness. Variable interval reinforcement is best for academic learning. How does this apply?

Cognitive-Discovery Learning Theory

Four schools of learning theory that differ from behaviorism are Gestalt Psychology, Field theory of Learning, Cognitive Structure Learning Theory, and Discovery Learning theory. All of these are similar to each other, because they stress the importance of understanding patterns or relationships between particulars in a field of knowledge.

Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt is a German word usually translated "form" or "pattern." The heart of gestalt theory as it applies to learning is that "meaningful configurations are greater than the mere sum of their parts." Gestalt theorists argue that learning occurs when the learner attains insight. Insight, in this framework means the discovery of new relationships between particulars by an individual. An important difference can be seen between rote memorization on one hand, and on the other hand, understanding interrelationships between various facts in a field of knowledge. "The gestalt view calls attention to the fact that many things are learned when we arrange ideas into patterns. We do not just add together impressions; we grasp how they are related."

In 1916, Wolfgang Kohler demonstrated that learning is by "insight" by which he meant perceiving relationships. A chimpanzee had learned to use short sticks in his cage to pull things toward himself. Kohler placed a longer stick just out of reach outside the cage, and a banana even farther away. After trying to reach the banana with the shorter stick, the chimp went and sat in the corner for some time. Finally, he got up and used the shorter stick to drag the longer stick in, and then used the longer stick to drag in the banana. Kohler argued that the chimp had gained insight into (or learned) the relationship between the two sticks and the banana.

Insight develops when perceptions are suddenly organized. We see that this sort of learning does not clearly fit into a behaviorist scenario. The sequence was too complex to be an accident, and since it had not been trained or modeled before, it seems likely that insight was in fact arrived at as a result of some cognitive process.

Field Theory

Kurt Lewin has developed a terminology based on comparing a human's field of knowledge and experience to magnetic fields. This issues in the field theory of learning. Both of these kinds of theories call attention to the fact that behavioral and cognitive elements are interrelated and that the development of the current relationship of these particulars is crucial to a correct understanding both of the current state of person's thinking, and of the needs for further development. One of the values of cognitive-discovery approaches is that they give credit to the complexity of thinking necessary to move beyond simple cataloguing of material.

Cognitive Structure Theories

Jerome Bruner is another noted psychologist who has written on the need for a cognitive structure approach to learning. Like the Gestalt theorists, he insists that students should be assisted in grasping the overall structure of a given field of study. Structure again stresses the importance of relationships within the field. Bruner argues that too much learning occurs as step-by-step study of statements or formulas to be reproduced by the student on cue. The result of such programmed materials is that the student cannot use the material outside of the class room. See Bruner's principles summarized in Fig. 4

Insight: Features of a Theory of Instruction (Bruner) (Figure 4)

Jerome Bruner, in his book Toward a Theory of Instruction, outlines four features he believes should be included within a theory of instruction.

1. The theory should make clean and precise the conditions that predispose individuals toward learning. Bruner believes that the experiences that contribute to an individual's desire to learn, not only in general but to master particular material, should be stated clearly.

2. Bruner emphasizes that a theory of instruction should describe precisely the ways in which a particular body of knowledge is to be structured so that the students can most readily grasp it and use it. Bruner believes that no matter what the content of the learning, if that material is organized appropriately, it can be presented in a form that is simple enough for any learner to understand.

3. The third feature in a theory of instruction, according to Bruner, should be a detailing of the most effective sequences by which that material may be presented, taking into account the learner, the difficulty of the material, and the logical sequencing of its ideas and content. Bruner's thrust is that the process of instruction should increase the learner's ability to "grasp, transform, and transfer what he is learning."

4. Bruner stresses that a theory of instruction should make very clear the nature and the pacing of the rewards. Bruner stresses that, ideally, educators should move gradually from rewarding extrinsically to helping the student is grasp intrinsic satisfaction. This is, of course, a part of the cognitive view, that the student should become less dependent upon the teacher's rewarding behavior and more dependent upon his own intrinsic satisfaction in seeking to work through to a solution of the learning task itself. Bruner stresses in this regard that the timing of when the rewards are given is of great importance. If the student gets rewarded too early, he may not be interested in exploring any further. If he gets rewarded or feedback comes too late, it may not really be relevant or helpful. In effect, Bruner is adding what we might term "sensitive timing" to the already great responsibility of the teacher in the teaching-learning process.

Jerome Bruner, Toward a Theory of Instruction (Cambridge Harvard U. Belknap) Copyright ã 1966 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Bruner stresses that teaching a discipline, ". . .is not a matter of getting [one] to commit results to mind. Rather it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. . .to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does. . . knowledge is a process, not a product."

Of course here is where he can be criticized as well. Teaching is more than a process, it is also a product. We want both to impart the facts of the situation and the ability to think about it in the proper way. The unstructured classrooms and new math approaches based on Bruner's theories have come under criticism because they went to the opposite extreme from rote memory--completely unstructured and undisciplined inquiry. Such a creative stage of learning should probably follow after a more simple type of learning based in part on instrumental conditioning and rote memory. Ericksen argues correctly that,

Factual information is important in its own right and as a base for understanding higher-order principles. . . Instruction about methodology in an introductory course should be delayed because it is difficult for students to appreciate an early treatment on procedures while they are still wondering about the specific content in the field they have set out to study.

    Also, not every person is self motivated to learn. A refusal to diligently apply contingent reinforcements, especially in the early phases of learning can lead to chaos in the learning environment. Thus, both Cognitive-Discovery theory and elements of behavioristic learning theory probably need to be used together. Simple reinforcement and modeling are most effective in the earlier phases of teaching, and discovery comes to prominence in the more advanced stages. Of course both are used to some degree throughout.

    Ausubel's Stages of Learning

    Gestaltists believe that they are not like behaviorists--viewing learners as passive organisms, focusing on how they can be manipulated by the environment. Gestaltists claim to view organisms as active processors of the stimuli in their environment. One who has spelled out practical stages in cognitive development is David Ausubel. He identifies four stages needed in a complete learning sequence.

    1. Advance organizers are introductory materials which provide the learner with a framework within which the particulars can be understood. Usually these materials relate the new facts to existing facts that are already understood.
    2. Progressive differentiation consists of moving from general explanations to increasingly detailed accounts of differences and distinctions.
    3. Integrative reconciliation is a process of carefully defining how the new material is the same as or different from existing known materials.
    4. Consolidation means that there is insistence on mastery of basic knowledge before going on to new items to be learned.

    Questions for Study

    1. Is it possible to see Cognitive-Discovery teaching in Christ's training of the twelve? Study the feeding of the 5000 in the Gospels. What training activities preceded this event? What followed after? Are there other examples in the Bible?
    2. Study Jonah 4. In the incident with the vine, is God involved in behavioristic contingent reinforcement, or is He using a Cognitive-Discovery framework to teach Jonah?
    3. Can you think of how Ausubel's four stages of learning might apply to a study in cell group?

    Conclusion

    Although some teachers and leaders may claim that they refuse to use conditioning in their work, this is not possible. We are always reinforcing, punishing, or ignoring behavior responses of those around us. The choice is not whether to use contingent response teaching techniques, but whether to use them effectively.

    In the case of Cognitive-Structure theory, on the other hand, it is not so clear that we are necessarily applying these principles of learning at all. Serious creative thought needs to be invested into the question of how we intend to develop the ability to think, rather than merely imparting what to think.

    Bibliography

    Bandura, Albert. Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1977.

    _______, Albert. "Vicarious Processes: A Case of No-trial Learning." in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 2. New York: Academic Press, Inc., 1965. pp. 1-55.

    Barlow, Daniel L. Educational Psychology: The Teaching Learning Process. Chicago: Moody Press, 1985. Barlow is Professor of Psychology at Liberty Baptist College, and speaks from the Fundamentalist Christian point of view.

    Biehler, Robert F. Psychology Applied to Teaching. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1978.

    Bloom, Benjamin S. Human Characteristics and School Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1976.

    Bruner, Jerome. Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge: Harvard U., Belknap. 1966.

    Crapps, Robert W. An Introduction to Psychology of Religion. Macon GA: Mercer University Press. 1986.

    Ericksen, Stanford C. The Essence of Good Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1984.

    Hyman, Ronald T. Ways of Teaching. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. 1974.

    Mager, Robert F. Developing Attitude Toward Learning. Palo Alto, CA: Fearon Publishers. 1968. A superior application of behavioral and social learning theories to teaching using lay terminology.

    Mouton, Jane Srygley, and Blake, Robert R. Synergogy. A New Strategy for Education, Training and Development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 1984.

    Mowrer, O. Hobart. Learning Theory and Personality Dynamics. New York: The Ronald Press Company. 1950.

    Rosenhan, David, Frederick, Frank, and Burrowes, Anne. "Preaching and Practicing: Effects of Channel Discrepancy on Norm Internalization." Child Development. Vol. 39 No. 1 (March, 1968), pp. 291-301.

    Schaeffer, Francis. Back to Freedom and Dignity. Downers Grove Ill.: InterVarsity Press. 1972.

    Skinner, B. F. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. New York: Bantam Books. 1971.

    ________ B. F. The Technology of Teaching. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. 1968.