I call myself a ‘romantic reductionist’ because I do both things. In my lab, as a scientist, I try to reduce high-level phenomena to the underlying simpler systems. However… we live in an unfolding universe that is becoming ever more complex. We became self-conscious, and now we have these social networks that are spreading. I find myself in a universe that’s filled with meaning. And this is not something that reductionists typically think about.
— Christof Koch, Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

Learning Theories: attempt to describe how people learn. Examples include “constructivism,”  “behaviorism,” and … “cognitivism.” (Instructional Design, Instructional Design Terms)

Behaviorist view was that learning is conditioned by “response” to a “stimulus” conditioned by “reward.” (German psychologist) Wolfgang Kohler thought behaviorism … overlooked the dynamic nature of “perception.” He studied chimpanzees solving task-related problems. The chimps learned by perceiving the problem, not by receiving rewards. (Collin, 161) Jane E. Pollack provides an approach for each individual teacher to improve the learning of every student that includes using well-articulated “curriculum,” planning for delivery, varying “assessment,” and giving ‘criterion-based’ “feedback.” (Pollack, 8-9) Also referred to as ‘instructional theory.’

Biological Preparedness: in learning theory, the idea that an organism is innately predisposed to form associations between certain stimuli and response. (Hockenbury, 187)

Constructivism: the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves. Focuses on the learner in thinking about learning - not on the subject/lesson to be taught. (Hein, 1991) Objective-based approach that believes that learners create their own meaning out of their own experience. Measures are qualitative in nature. (Marshall, 10/11/2011) A paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. (LearningTheories, 42) Typically viewed as an extension of “cognitivism.” Emphasizes preparing learners to develop problem-solving skills to tackle new, complex, ambiguous situations. (Marshall, 11/3/2011) Focuses particularly on learning to learn and build individual meaning. (Marshall, 12/8/2011) Emphasizes the importance of the knowledge, beliefs, and skills an individual brings to the experience of learning. It recognizes the construction of new understanding as a combination of prior learning, new information, and readiness to learn. Individuals make choices about what new ideas to accept and how to fit them into their established views of the world. (SEDL) Adjective - ‘constructivist.’

Empiricism: a philosophical and psychological approach that assigns the attribution of all knowledge to experience. (Collin, 340) The idea that experience is the only source of knowledge. (Schunk, 6) The belief that knowledge is mainly or exclusively acquired from empirical evidence - evidence about the world received via our senses. (Miell, 194) Also referred to as ‘behaviorist learning theory.’ Adjective - ‘empiricist.’

Nativism: the belief that knowledge is mainly or exclusively innate. (Miell, 194)

Reductionism: a common version of “materialism.” Puts forth the hope that we can understand complex phenomena like happiness, avarice, compassion, malice, caution, and awe by successively reducing the problems down to their small-scale biological pieces and parts. (Eagleman, 204) Breaking things down into ever smaller parts with the hope that understanding all the little pieces will eventually explain the whole. Though reductionism is useful for solving problems, it is not sufficient for solving them. (Ramachandran, 264) Involves reducing complex systems to simpler components as a way to understand how the system works. (Brooker, 13) (Example - trying) to explain behavior in terms of underlying neurons, and neurons you try to explain in terms of underlying molecules, and molecules you try to understand in terms of underlying atoms, etc., all the way down. (Koch, BSP84) Editor’s note - in Japanese, a cultural imitation strategy “wakeru” (to break things down into smaller parts) leads to “wakaru” (to understand). Interestingly, although these are two different Japanese words, they use the same Japanese Kanji character (whose appearance looks almost like the Greek letter Phi). Adjective - 'reductionist.'