The following article was sent my Ms Imelda Kemeza, lecturer in Social Psychology at MUST:
Gestalt psychology is an approach to behaviour advocated by Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Kurt Koffka(1886-1941), and Wolfgang Köhler(1887-1967) that humans perceive and think of wholes. They emphasise that humans learn by seeing new patterns and organizing them into a meaningful whole in the total situation not by associating bits of experiences as argued by the behaviourists (Chauhan, 1996).
The Gestalt Psychologists further observed that when we perceive something, properties emerge from the whole that are not found in any particular component (Wade and Tavris, 2003) As a result, they emphasise that in the teaching and learning process every type of instruction should start with a meaningful whole (Chauhan, 1996).Below are views of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Masters of Education, (Educational Psychology) students on the gestalt theory of learning:
- Reward and motivate group work which promotes teamwork e.g. an individual presents on behalf of a group, yet the whole group is rewarded.
- The whole precedes the parts for fair judgment e.g. a student on school practice is assessed on the whole of core and co-curricular activities.
- Links relationship between real life experiences and current knowledge as a basis for good pedagogical practice.
- Encourages contributions from parts, harmonize them to bring out the best.
- Enhances organization of work; sequencing of work in steps.
- Provides a basis for setting goals for future career development e.g. student’s performance provides direction of career: total score, best done, career.
- Poses challenge of parts leading to whole e.g. in the results-oriented examinations, the process is ignored to look for good grade through malpractice. The whole might ignore the need for specialization.
- Enables teacher to get average of all of a learner’s performances to calculate his/her GPA which gives the class of the degree/certificate.
- Encourages continuity e.g. in research.
- Good theory that emphasizes continuous practice. Daily exercises in maths or spelling exercises at the beginning of every lesson.
Compiled by Imelda Kemeza and the MA Students