Learning Theory - a Primer

The readings this week are grouped into 3 clusters:

  1. Learning Theory (general)
  2. Adult Learning Theory
  3. Learning Styles

The idea is to get an overview (or, a reminder) of these schools of thought and to think about learning - the ways in which it is thought to occur, and what your role is as an instructor.

Knowing the basics of different learning theories helps us better understand the motivations and desires of learners and how best to support the learning process through instructional design and learning facilitation.

Here is an overview of the big ones: behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism. Connectivism is increasingly discussed these days in the "networked" and "information" age, where there is so much information that is constantly changing.

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