Learning Theories - a Primer

We've provided some resources you can use to refresh your memory of beliefs about how people learn and to allow you to look up specific learning theories if you choose.

Here is an overview of the big ones: behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism. "Connectivism", a theory articulated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2005,  is increasingly discussed these days in the "networked" and "information" age, where subject knowledge is changing rapidly and learners have unprecedented access and connectivity due to digital networks.

What do you know/believe about learning? Like many, you probably have an eclectic view that draws from more than one theory.

How does learning occur? Black box - observable behaviour main focus Structured, computational Social, meaning created by each learner (personal) Distributed within a network, social, technologically enhanced, recognizing and interpreting patterns
What factors influence learning? Nature of reward, punishment, stimuli Existing schema, previous experiences Engagement, participation, social, cultural Diversity of network
What is the role of the memory Memory is hardwiring of repeated experiences - where reward and punishment are most influential Encoding, storage, retrieval Prior knowledge remixed to current context Adaptive patterns, representative of current state, existing in networks
How does transfer occur? Stimulus, response Duplicating knowledge constructs of "knower" Socialization Connecting to (adding nodes)
What types of learning are best explained by this theory? Task-based learning Reasoning, clear objectives, problem solving Social, vague ("ill defined") Complex learning, rapid changing core, diverse knowledge sources