The theory I am looking at is experimental learning by Carl Rogers. I think it is valuable to know first that Carl Rogers felt that people were basically good (Boeree,C.) and trust was essential between the client/therapist and learner/teacher (www.infed.org) . Rogers believed a teacher did not teach another person; instead, a teacher was a facilitator to aid in engaging the learner. A theory Rogers developed was the actualizing tendency (Boeree,C.), which simply states that people will achieve to their fullest potential. Rogers did not just apply this theory to humans, but to all living things. Rogers explained that people and all living when left to choose without outside or environmental influence will do what is best for self; however, humans and all living things are influenced by environmental and societal factors.
Taking a closer look at actualization or self-values verses societal influences explains further Rogers’ ideas of the learner/client knows what is best for self. First the living thing experiences organismic valuing, or knowing what is good or bad because of senses and trusting our senses. Next is positive regard, which is the instinctive need for love, affection and affirmation. Positive self-regard follows knowing one’s self-worth, having self-esteem and a positive self-image. Rogers then explains that because we do not live in a vacuum, but instead are surrounded by various values and opinions we become tainted and begin to doubt our self-worth and capabilities. Humans look for acceptance and think our positive regard and positive self-regard are conditional depending on others values. This is the cause for the difference of real-self forming from actualization (individual values) and ideal-self forming society values. Rogers explained the gap of real-self and ideal-self is called incongruity. The further we are from where or what society expects from us the more incongruity, which means more suffering.
Rogers’ theory also stated it was essential for the learner to have an interpersonal relationship with the teacher. The development of the interpersonal relationship needed to have three basic characteristics. First, the teacher needs to be “real” or sincere (what you see is what you get). Second, are prizing, acceptance and trust, which say to the learner that his or her opinion and feelings are acknowledged and important. Also the learner needs to feel the teacher will hold the feelings confidential and trust in the capabilities of the learner. The third characteristic is empathic understanding. Here the teacher has an understanding of the learner’s feelings about education and the process of education (www.infed.org).
Carl Rogers’ theories of client-centered therapy and experimental learning in education support the current trend in education of making learning relevant to the learner through guided facilitation of projects. As educators we are faced with the challenge of engaging students and taking ownership for their learning, whether in a traditional classroom or web-based instruction. However, educators in the traditional classroom would have an easier time of developing a relationship with the learner because they can look at the learner, read body language and have the opportunity to see reactions to various teaching strategies. Educators taking the challenge of web-based instruction need to develop lessons that will engage learners without any personal contact. This can be done by offering a variety of choices to accomplish the same objective. Also the instructor needs to be available to give feedback very quickly. I feel the instructor needs to be very flexible and accepting of the different levels of experience. The one issue educators of web-based instruction do not have to deal with is the influence from the classroom environment. Students are allowed to be their real-self rather than the ideal-self. In Rogers theory that would allow the learner to achieve at an optimum level.
Boeree, C,G., Carl Rogers 1902-1987, www.webspace.ship.edu/egboer/rogers/html
Carl Rogers, Core Conditions and Education, www.infed.org/thinkers/et-rogers.htm