Learning Theory. In this week’s discussion, we will examine how instructional design is informed by student learning theory. Select one motivational and one learning theory that was presented in NUR 660 and apply them to the instructional design process (if you have not yet taken NUR 660, you have access to the textbook on VitalSource and your nursing texts also include learning theories).

Identify the theories you selected
Explain why you are drawn to these theories.
In a practical/concrete way, discuss how they will inform your decisions as you design your online course.
How might these theories help you to quickly adapt your curriculum to current events (e.g. the pandemic) or changes in the health care system?

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The two theories I have selected for this discussion are the Self-Determination Theory (motivational theory) and the Cognitive Load Theory (learning theory).

I am drawn to the Self-Determination Theory because it emphasizes intrinsic motivation and the importance of satisfying basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This theory recognizes that individuals are naturally motivated when they have a sense of choice, competence in their abilities, and meaningful connections with others. I find this theory compelling because it aligns with the idea that learners are more engaged and motivated when they perceive their learning experiences as personally relevant and when they have a sense of control over their learning process.

The second theory, Cognitive Load Theory, captures my interest because it focuses on the cognitive demands of learning and how to optimize instructional design to manage cognitive load effectively. This theory emphasizes the limited capacity of working memory and suggests strategies for reducing extraneous cognitive load and enhancing germane cognitive load. I believe this theory is crucial for designing online courses because it provides guidance on presenting information in a way that minimizes cognitive overload and promotes deep learning.

These theories will inform my decisions as I design my online course in practical and concrete ways:

Incorporating choice and autonomy: Drawing from the Self-Determination Theory, I will provide learners with opportunities to make choices within the course. For example, I can offer different options for assignments or allow learners to choose their preferred learning resources. This approach will enhance learners’ sense of control and motivation, as they can tailor their learning experiences to their individual needs and interests.

Fostering a sense of competence: To address learners’ need for competence, I will design learning activities that gradually increase in complexity, providing opportunities for learners to build their skills and knowledge progressively. Additionally, I will provide constructive feedback and support to help learners recognize their achievements and further develop their competence, which will enhance their motivation and engagement.

Promoting social interaction and relatedness: Recognizing the importance of relatedness, I will incorporate collaborative activities and discussion forums in the online course. This will allow learners to connect with their peers, share experiences, and engage in meaningful interactions. Creating a sense of community and belongingness can foster motivation, as learners feel supported and connected with others who share similar goals and challenges.

In terms of adapting the curriculum to current events or changes in the healthcare system, these theories can be valuable tools. For example:

The Self-Determination Theory can guide the design of learning experiences that address the specific needs and concerns arising from current events. By incorporating relevant and timely examples, case studies, or discussions related to the pandemic or changing healthcare practices, learners can perceive the direct relevance of the content and remain motivated to engage in their studies.

The Cognitive Load Theory can help in adapting the curriculum by considering the increased cognitive load that learners may experience during stressful times, such as a pandemic. By reducing unnecessary distractions, simplifying complex information, and providing clear organizational structures, learners can better manage their cognitive load and engage with the course materials effectively, even during challenging circumstances.

These theories provide a framework for creating meaningful, engaging, and adaptable online courses. By considering learners’ intrinsic motivation, basic psychological needs, and cognitive capacity, instructional designers can optimize the learning experience and facilitate effective learning outcomes, while also being able to quickly adapt the curriculum to address current events or changes in the healthcare system.

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