Learning theories are conceptual frameworks describing how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained.


Learning theories are numerous but only three will be mention here as well as their advantages. They include the Social learning theory, Constructivism and Cognitivism learning theory.

  1. Social learning theory

A well-known social learning theory has been developed by Albert Bandura, who works within both cognitive and behavioural frameworks that embrace attention, memory and motivation. His theory of learning suggests that people learn within a social context, and that learning is facilitated through concepts such as modeling, observational learning and imitation. Bandura put forward “reciprocal determininsm” that holds the view that a person’s behavior, environment and personal qualities all reciprocally influence each others. He argues that children learn from observing others as well as from “model” behaviour, which are processes involving attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. The importance of positive role modeling on learning is well documented.


  1. Learning is facilitated through social concepts
  2. Observation is important in ;earning as children learn fast through it
  • People learn quickly through social context.

Vygotsky’s learning theory, also known as social development theory. The major theme of Vygotsky’s theoretical framework is that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition. Vygotsky (1978) states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals

Vygotsky’s theory was an attempt to explain consciousness as the end product of socialization. For example, in the learning of language, our first utterances with peers or adults are for the purpose of communication but once. Vygotsky’s theory is complementary to Bandura’s work on social learning and a key component of situated learning theory as well. Because Vygotsky’s focus was on cognitive development, it is interesting to compare his views with those a constructivist (Bruner) and a genetic epistemologist (Piaget).


  1. Consciousness is the end product of socialization
  2. The theory focus on cognitive development of the mind
  • Learning is defined as change in a learner’s schemata

C. Constructivism

Founded by Jean Piaget, constructivism emphasizes the importance of the active involvement of learners in constructing knowledge for themselves. Students are thought to use background knowledge and concepts to assist them in their acquisition of novel information. When such new information is approached, the learner faces a loss of equilibrium with their previous understanding which demands a change in cognitive structure. This change effectively combines previous and novel information to form an improved cognitive schema. Constructivism can be both subjectively and contextually based. Under the theory of radical constructivism, coined by Ernst von Glasersfeld, understanding relies on one’s subjective interpretation of experience as opposed to objective “reality”. Similarly, William Cobern‘s idea of contextual constructivism encompasses the effects of culture and society on experience.

Constructivism asks why students do not learn deeply by listening to a teacher, or reading from a textbook. To design effective teaching environments, it believes one needs a good understanding of what children already know when they come into the classroom. The curriculum should be designed in a way that builds on the pupil’s background knowledge and is allowed to develop with them. Begin with complex problems and teach basic skills while solving these problems. The learning theories of John Dewey, Maria Montessori, and David A. Kolb serve as the foundation of the application of constructivist learning theory in the classroom. Constructivism has many varieties such as active learning, discovery learning, and knowledge building, but all versions promote a student’s free exploration within a given framework or structure. The teacher acts as a facilitator who encourages students to discover principles for themselves and to construct knowledge by working answering open-ended questions and solving real-world problems. To do this, a teacher should encourage curiosity and discussion among his/her students as well as promoting their autonomy. In scientific areas in the classroom, constructivist teachers provide raw data and physical materials for the students to work with and analyze.


  1. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment.
  2. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation.
  • Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process, thus the learner is not a blank slate (tabula rasa) but brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation

Other learning theories

Other learning theories have also been developed for more specific purposes. For example, andragogy is the art and science to help adults learn. Connectivism is a recent theory of networked learning which focuses on learning as making connections. The Learning as a Network (LaaN) theory builds upon connectivism, complexity theory, and double-loop learning. It starts from the learner and views learning as the continuous creation of a personal knowledge network (PKN)


Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli. The behaviourist perspectives of learning originated in the early 1900s, and became dominant in early 20th century. The basic idea of behaviourism is that learning consists of a change in behaviour due to the acquisition, reinforcement and application of associations between stimuli from the environment and observable responses of the individual. Behaviourists are interested in measurable changes in behaviour. Thorndike, one major behaviourist theorist, put forward that (1) a response to a stimulus is reinforced when followed by a positive rewarding effect, and (2) a response to a stimulus becomes stronger by exercise and repetition. This view of learning is akin to the “drill-and-practice” programmes. Skinner, another influential behaviourist, proposed his variant of behaviourism called “operant conditioning”. In his view, rewarding the right parts of the more complex behaviour reinforces it, and encourages its recurrence.


  1. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.
  2. Both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability that the antecedent behavior will happen again.

iii. In contrast, punishment (both positive and negative)    decreases the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will happen again. Positive indicates the application of a stimulus; Negative indicates the withholding of a stimulus. Learning is therefore defined as a change in behavior in the learner.

Transformative learning theory

Transformative learning theory seeks to explain how humans revise and reinterpret meaning. Transformative learning is the cognitive process of effecting change in a frame of reference. A frame of reference defines our view of the world. The emotions are often involved. Adults have a tendency to reject any ideas that do not correspond to their particular values, associations and concepts.

Transformative learning takes place by discussing with others the “reasons presented in support of competing interpretations, by critically examining evidence, arguments, and alternative points of view.” When circumstances permit, transformative learners move toward a frame of reference that is more inclusive, discriminating, self-reflective, and integrative of experience.

Criticism of learning theory

Critics of learning theories that seek to displace traditional educational practices claim that there is no need for such theories; that the attempt to comprehend the process of learning through the construction of theories creates problems and inhibits personal freedom.









Learning is one of the most important activities in which humans engage. It is at the very core of the educational process, although most of what people learn occurs outside of school. For thousands of years, philosophers and psychologists have sought to understand the nature of learning, how it occurs, and how one person can influence the learning of another person through teaching and similar endeavors. Various theories of learning have been suggested, and these theories differ for a variety of reasons. A theory, most simply, is a combination of different factors or variables woven together in an effort to explain whatever the theory is about. In general, theories based on scientific evidence are considered more valid than theories based on opinion or personal experience. In any case, it is wise to be cautious when comparing the appropriateness of different theories.











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The ethnicity of Nigeria is so varied that there is no definition of a Nigerian beyond that of someone who lives within the borders of the country (Ukpo, p. 19). The boundaries of the formerly English colony were drawn to serve commercial interests, largely without regard for the territorial claims of the indigenous peoples (38). As a result, about three hundred ethnic groups comprise the population of Nigeria (7), and the country’s unity has been consistently under siege: eight attempts at secession threatened national unity between 1914 and 1977. The Biafran War was the last of the secessionist movements within this period.

The concept of ethnicity requires definition. Ukpo calls an “ethnic group” a “group of people having a common language and cultural values” (10). These common factors are emphasized by frequent interaction between the people in the group. In Nigeria, the ethnic groups are occasionally fusions created by intermarriage, intermingling and/or assimilation. In such fusions, the groups of which they are composed maintain a limited individual identity. The groups are thus composed of smaller groups, but there is as much difference between even the small groups; as Chief Obafemi Awolowo put it, as much “as there is between Germans, English, Russians and Turks” (11).

The count of three hundred ethnic groups cited above overwhelmingly enumerates ethnic minority groups, those which do not comprise a majority in the region in which they live. These groups usually do not have a political voice, nor do they have access to resources or the technology needed to develop and modernize economically. They therefore often consider themselves discriminated against, neglected, or oppressed. There are only three ethnic groups which have attained “ethnic majority” status in their respective regions: the Hausa-Fulani in the north, the Ibo in the southeast, and the Yoruba (Soyinka’s group) in the southwest (11, 21).

We must be very careful to avoid the use of the term “tribe” to describe these ethnic groups. “Tribe,” Ukpo points out, is largely a racist term. The Ibo and Hausa-Fulani of Nigeria are each made up of five to ten million people, a figure comparable to the number of, say, Scots, Welsh, Armenians, Serbs or Croats. Yet we do not refer to the latter groups as “tribes.” The term “tribe” is almost exclusively, and very indifferently, applied to peoples of Native American or African origin. It is a label which emerged with imperialism in its application to those who were non-European and lived in a “colonial or semi-colonial dependency…in Asia, Africa and Latin America” (14). As we are attempting to discard the prejudices of imperialism it is in our best interests to discard the use of the term “tribe” when referring to the ethnic groups of Nigeria.



With that in mind, we should dabble in brief definitions of the major ethnic groups of Nigeria. The majority groups, as stated above, are the Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba. The first, the Hausa-Fulani, are an example of a fused ethnic group, as they are actually made up of two groups, not surprisingly called the Hausa and the Fulani.

The Hausa are themselves a fusion, a collection of Sudanese peoples that were assimilated, long ago, into the population inhabiting what is now considered Hausaland. They believe in the religion of Islam. Their origin is a matter of dispute: legends trace them back to Canaan, Palestine, Libya, Mecca and Baghdad, while ethnologists hold them to be from the Southern Sahara or the Chad Basin. Once they arrived in Hausaland they became known for setting up seven small states centered around “Birni,” or walled cities. In these states the Hausa developed techniques of efficient government, including a carefully organized fiscal system and a highly learned judiciary, that gave them a reputation of integrity and ability in administering Islamic law.

The Fulani are also Muslims, and, like the Hausa, their origin is more or less an open question. Once a nomadic people, they believe themselves to be descended from the gypsies, Roman soldiers who became lost in the desert, a lost “tribe” of Israel, or other groups such as the relatives of the Britons or the Tuaregs, who inhabit the southern edge of the Sahara in central Africa. Scholars claim that the Fulani are related to the Phoenicians, or place their origin in shepherds of Mauritania that were looking for new pastures. Whatever their origin, the Fulani are known to have arrived in the Hausa states in the early 13th century. Since then they have intermarried with the Hausa, and have mostly adopted the latter’s customs and language, although some Fulani decided to stay “pure” by retaining a nomadic life and animist beliefs. The Fulani are most distinctively known for a dispute that developed between them and the local King of Gobir, a spat which developed into a religious war or Jihad ending with a Fulani conquest of the Hausa states (20-21).

The second majority ethnic group is the Ibo, who like the Hausa-Fulani are a synthesis of smaller ethnic groups. In this case the smaller groups are the Onitsha Ibo, the Western Ibo, the Cross River Ibo, and the North-eastern Ibo. Their origins are completely unknown, as they claim to be from about nineteen different places. They do maintain an “indigenous home,” however: the belt of forest in the country to the east of the Niger Valley. This home was established to avoid the Fulani’s annual slave raids, which were conducted on cavalry that was unable to explore very deeply in the forest. The Ibo thus generally inhabited inaccessible areas, although during the 19th century they began to assert ancestral claims to Nri town, “the heart of the Ibo nationality” (32).

The Ibo established a society that was fascinating in its decentralization. Their largest societal unit was the village, where each extended family managed its own affairs without being dictated to by any higher authority. Where chiefs existed they held very restricted political power, and only local jurisdiction. The villages were democratic in nature, as the government of the community was the concern of all who lived in it.

The third ethnic majority group, the Yoruba, is like the others made up of numerous smaller collections of people. Those who are identified as Yoruba consider themselves to be members of the Oyo, Egba, Ijebu, Ife, Ilesha, Ekiti or Owu peoples. The Yoruba are united, however, by their common belief in the town of Ife as their place of origin, and the Oni of Ife as their spiritual leader. Their mythology holds that “Oduduwa” created the earth; present royal houses of the Yoruba kingdoms trace their ancestry back to “Oduduwa,” while members of the Yoruba people maintain that they are descended from his sons. Yoruba society is organized into kingdoms, the greatest of which was called Oyo and extended as far as Ghana in the west and the banks of the Niger to the east. The Oyo empire collapsed in 1830 when Afonja, an ambitious governor of the state of Ilorin, broke away but lost his territory to the hired mercenaries of the Fulani. Despite the fact that this event occurred in close temporal proximity to the Fulani Jihad, it was not associated with it (29-30).

These three groups comprise only fifty-seven percent of the population of Nigeria. The remainder of the people are members of the ethnic minority groups, which include such peoples as the Kanuri, the Nupe, and the Tiv in the north, the Efik/Ibibio, the Ejaw, and the Ekoi in the east, and the Edo and Urhobo/Isoko to the west, along with hundreds of other groups that differ widely in language, culture and even physique. The specific groups mentioned above are distinct in that they were found, in the 1953 census, to have over one hundred thousand members. As the population of Nigeria has doubled to over seventy-eight million people in 1982 from approximately thirty-one million in 1953, it is safe to assume that these groups are now much larger (24, AHD p. 1509).


However, despite all these, there are issues which point to the fact that ethnicity is not the problem in Nigeria but Nigerians themselves who choose to abuse ethnicity for their own tribal interest. There is nothing wrong with ethnicity. It can make and create avenues for healthy competitions in economic development. The period after independence saw a healthy competition between the major tribes in Nigeria. South-west led in cocoa production, groundnuts and cereals in the north while palm products and root crops dominated the economy of the south-east.

Attachment to a citizen first to his/her ethnic group before the country is bad for the nation’s unity. If Nigerians learn to value nationalism more than ethnicity, there will be an increase in economic and political development and Nigeria will reclaim its rightful position in the world.



Boulding, Elise. 1990. “Ethnicity and New Constitutive Orders: An Approach to Peace in the Twenty-First Century.” Chapter 2 in Hisakazu Usu and Takeo Vihida, Eds., From Chaos to Order, Vol. I: Crisis and Reneaissance of the World Society. Tokyo: Yuskindo Publishers.

Breuilly, John. 1982. Nationalism and the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Cellard, Jacques. 1976. “Le reveil des longues régionales.” Le Monde de l’education, 20(September):3-5.

Deák, István. 1990. “Uncovering Eastern Europe’s Dark History.” Orbis (winter), pp. 53-54.

Drakulic, Slavenka. 1992. “Overcome by Nationhood.” TIME, 20 January.

Ekiert, Grzegorz. 1991. “Democratization Processes in East Central Europe: A Theoretical Reconsideration.” British Journal of Political Science, 21, Part 3, July.

Falk, Richard. 1994. “Problems and Prospects for the Kurdish Struggle for Self-determination after the End of the Gulf War.” Michigan Journal of International Law, 15(2):600.

Havel, Vaclev. 1993. “The Post-Communist Nightmare.” The New York Review of Books (May), p. 27.

Hobsbawm, Eric. 1991. “The Perils of the New Nationalism.” The Nation (4 November), p. 555.

Lawson, Stephanie. 1992. “The Politics of Authenticity: Ethnonationalist Conflict and the State.” Paper presented for the 14th General Conference of IPRA, Kyoto, Japan, 27-31 July.

Liebich, André. 1991. “Une mosaïque ethnique.” Géopolitique, autumn, pp. 56-61.






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What Is Forex Trading and How to Trade It in Nigeria

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