Girl learning from a computer

Use These 3 Models of Learning to Make Teaching Kids Easier

How exactly do young kids learn and develop cognition? Educational theorists have proposed various models that break down the learning process into progressive stages. Understanding these models provides insight into how children advance through different phases to grasp new information and skills.

Three Key Models of Learning

While theories vary, three influential models of learning include:

Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget outlined four stages of mental development from infancy through adolescence. His stages include:

  • Sensorimotor – Infants interact through senses and movement.
  • Preoperational – Toddlers begin symbolic thought but still think illogically.
  • Concrete Operational – Kids apply logic to physical objects but struggle with abstract concepts.
  • Formal Operational – Teens can think hypothetically and abstractly.

Piaget’s model reveals how cognition gradually progresses in complexity across distinct stages as children mature.

Little girl demonstrating Piaget's model of learning

Bloom’s Taxonomy

American educator Benjamin Bloom proposed six levels of thinking skills that learners master:

  • Remembering – Recalling facts and information.
  • Understanding – Comprehending meaning.
  • Applying – Using knowledge in real situations.
  • Analyzing – Breaking down ideas.
  • Evaluating – Assessing or critiquing.
  • Creating – Producing new ideas or products.

Bloom’s taxonomy provides a hierarchy of thinking abilities learned through education.

Two kids learning from a book, showing us Bloom's model of learning.

ADDIE Model

The ADDIE framework outlines five phases of instructional design:

  • Analysis – Defining goals and objectives.
  • Design – Creating learning materials and activities.
  • Development – Producing content and assets.
  • Implementation – Facilitating the learning experiences.
  • Evaluation – Assessing outcomes and revising as needed.

ADDIE offers a systematic approach to creating effective learning experiences.

Common Threads in Models of Learning

While the specifics vary, these models of learning reveal common insights into how learning unfolds:

  • Learning is a complex, multi-step process, not an all-or-nothing endeavor.
  • Learners progress through predictable stages and hierarchies as cognition develops.
  • Learning builds on prior knowledge and experience.
  • Development happens gradually over time through active assimilation.
  • Instruction should align with the learner’s current abilities and trajectory.
Kids in a school room showing  Common Threads in Models of Learning

How Learning Transforms Through Stages

As kids master the foundational knowledge and skills in each stage, new doors open for reaching the next level of development. Like stairs in a spiral staircase, each revolution brings learners to a new vantage point.

Educators can nurture development by understanding where students are within learning models and fostering growth toward the next phase. Just like children learning to walk must crawl first, the stages provide signposts guiding the way upwards.

Suggested Reading:

Sources for Additional Information:

Here are some sources that discuss the different stages of learning in the models mentioned:

[1] McLeod, S. A. (2020, December 29). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html

[2] Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

[3] Kumar, S., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2017). What do instructional designers in higher education really do? International Journal on E-Learning, 16(4), 371-393.

[4] McLeod, S. A. (2017, October 24). Kolb’s learning styles and experiential learning cycle. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html

[5] Harasim, L. (2017). Learning theory and online technologies. New York, NY: Routledge.

[6] Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

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