On Kerr and Kapp… interesting viewpoints on Cognitivism and Behavioris

Behavior theorists define learning as nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior based on environmental conditions. Behaviorism further states that the Principles of Learning, also referred to as the Laws of Learning, which must be applied in the same way to differing behaviors and species. Stimuli and responses are the primary learning focus, with internal processes omitted from scientific study – and learning requires behavior changes, and behavior is strictly observed (Munoz, N.D.). The theory disregards independent activities of the mind. B.F. Skinner’s research supports this thought, as learning was defined as being achieved through environmental factors and that the brain is not conditioned. Individuals are viewed as passive and their behavior is shaped through positive and negative reinforcement (Behaviorism, 2011).

Cognitivism, also referred to as cognitive development, stresses that the psychology of human learning is a special talent that enables humans to freely form hypotheses and develop intellectually. Cognitivism’s approach is to understand how we think and obtain knowledge which involves the combined use of thinking, memory, decision making, knowing and problem-solving skills. Cultural differences also play a role in our learning development and achievements (Keesee, 2011). Cognitivists do not require an outward exhibition of learning, but applies an emphasis more on the internal processes and connections that take place during learning. The primary belief is that cognitive processes guide the way we learn (Culatta, 2011).

The blog writings of Kapp and Kerr’s opposing views were actually amusing – with each responding by throwing intellectual barbs at each other. Kapp maintains that learning objectives should be created based on measurable outcomes. He firmly asserts that learning requires measurable, behavioral results; specifically while training, as that the learners should follow a recommended set of responses (Munoz, 2011).

Kerr on the other hand, also considers each “ism” to be valuable for various ways of understanding learning. Additionally, he contends that the behaviorist system of rewards as reinforcement in learning activities is still utilized by instructional designers (Richards, 2013). However, Kapp does again agree with Kerr in that “isms” don’t act alone – that they need each other – as it is the combination is the “isms” that provides for learning to occur (Durff, 2016). Kerr further agrees with Kapp that each of the major learning theories influences the understanding of learning and instruction and the design of learning experiences (Richards, 2013).

From my perspective, I agree with Kerr’s philosophy that “isms” don’t act alone as that not a single theory sufficiently outlines and supports learning and effective instruction. I agree that there should not be the case that it’s “one or the other” in choosing learning theories. Each theory endorses specific types of learning and is best used in tandem with the other theories when developing lessons (Richards, 2013).


Richards, R. (2013). Module 2. Roz Blogs. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Q7VwLm2FKzAJ:https://rosalynrichards.wordpress.com/module-2/+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Durff, L. (2016). Death by -ism. Durff’s Blog. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from https://durffsblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/death-by-ism.html

Culatta, R. (2011). Cognitivism. Innovative Learning. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from http://www.innovativelearning.com/educational_psychology/cognitivism/index.htm

Keesee, G. (2011). Cognitivism. Teaching and Learning Resources. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/31012664/Cognitivism

Munoz, L. (2010.) Conversations about learning. Learning Theories and all Things Educational. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from https://lynnmunoz.wordpress.com/learning-theories/behaviorist-learning-theory/

Munoz, L. (2010.) Behaviorist learning theory. Learning Theories and all Things EducationalRetrieved 14 November 2018 from https://lynnmunoz.wordpress.com/learning-theories/behaviorist-learning-theory/

Behaviorism. (2011). In Funderstanding. Retrieved 14 November 2018 from https://www.funderstanding.com/educators/behaviorism-and-the-developing-child/

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