Theories and models
|Learning and Teaching in Practice|
|Module 2: Adult learning theory and Praxis|
|Theoretical Concepts||Introduction | Theories and models | Open and online education | Summary|
Why do we need learning theories? For a start they help us to understand how information is "absorbed, processed and retained" (Wikipedia, 2013, para 1). They also give teachers a useful foundation on which to build their approach to learning and teaching and helps them to understand the many different ways in which people learn. Different theories are linked to various outcomes of learning, for example, skills-based learning might be underpinned by behaviourist learning theory.
Learning theories are generally grouped into five different categories:
- Behaviourist (conditioning - stimulus and reward);
- Humanistic (values-based empowerment of learners) - slide presentation of concepts - click on slides to enlarge as necessary;
- Constructivism (making meanings - social and cognitive aspects) - after reading the definition, you can work through a list of topics to find out more ;
- Cognitivism (memory and prior learning); and
- Situated learning theory (social and communities of practice).
Take some time to explore some different approaches to learning that are based on the various theories. Links to several more extra resources can be found further on. In the first instance, use the activities to help guide your understanding of learning theories. If you are not sure where to start, check out this Interactive collection of learning theories and theorists. For an overview and comparison of behaviourism, cognitive constructivism and social constructivism - check out the Overview of Learning Theories from Berkley.