Faculty Research at Morehead State University

Document Type


Publication Date



The notion that people seek to make meaning out of their world, whether it is the classroom or the living room, is not a new one. Educational philosophers and learning theorists have attempted to explain how learners learn and construct meaning from instruction or the classroom. Stimulus-response theorists (Thorndike, Guthrie, Pavlov—as cited in Hilgard & Bower, 1966; Watson, 1960; and Skinner, 1960) view learners as reactive, passive robots only responding when stimulated by something outside of themselves. Reese & Overton (1970) propose to call this the mechanistic world view—any change in the learners comes from outside of themselves. Organismic theorists (Dewey, Tolman—cited in Kingsley & Garry 1957; Lewin, 1951; Combs & Snygg, 1959; Bruner, 1968; and Freire, 1970), on the other hand, contend that learners are active, organized entities who seek meaning from their own experiences to solve problems; to create relationships between signs and desired goals; to manipulate information and knowledge to fit new tasks; and to evaluate whether the way they have manipulated information is adequate to the task. The desire for self-actualization is the driving force which motivates the behavior of organismic learners.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.