Learning Theories
Sarah Harris
EME 2040-5499
How Do We Learn?
Is learning a product of our behavior
and acquisition of concepts, or is it
the process that leads us to
There are many theories on how we
learn and how we perceive and
process information. It is a matter
of determining styles and methods of
instruction to best fit the learning
process for maximum retention of
• Bruner’s theory emphasizes instruction based on the
study of cognition and linked to child development
research as well as social and cultural aspects of learning
• Instructor must encourage learner to discover concepts
on their own
• Instruction must make the student ready and willing to
learn through a connection in context with experience
• Instruction must be structured to be easily grasped
• Spiral organization of instruction for building knowledge
• Instruction designed for exploration and going beyond
the information presented
For more information visit Funderstanding Constructivism
• Learning is a function of a change in behavior
• Behavior is a response of an individual to events or stimuli that
occur in the environment
• Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning aims to provide
behavioral explanations for cognition
• He also aims to explain motivation and response as well as
discuss the issues of free will and social control
• Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner’s theory
• This element includes both positive and negative reinforcers as
well as punishment and their effects on establishing and
maintaining behavior
For more information visit Behaviorism
• Pavlov’s theory of classical
conditioning and reflex
• Learning doesn’t depend on
us doing anything
• An unconditioned stimulus
resulting in an
unconditioned response
presented with a
conditioned stimulus will
eventually produce a
conditioned response
• Learning by association
• Our mind is composed of a sensory register, short-term
memory, and long term memory
• These memory stores register, process, store, and retrieve
• Miller proposed several theoretical ideas on information
processing that would replace the stimulus-response idea of
• Chunk: a meaningful unit of information (digits, words, faces,
etc.); capacity of short-term memory is 5-9 chunks
• Test-Operate-Test-Exit (TOTE): a goal is tested for
achievement, an operation is performed in attempt, and testoperate is repeated until the goal is either achieved or
For more information visit The Information Processing Approach to
Contrasting the Theories…
•Active and Exploratory
•Learners construct new
ideas building on current
and previous knowledge
and experiences
•Learning in response to
a stimulus
•Learner has no control
•Learning shaped by
repetition and
•Information Processing
through memory stores
•Use of retention
•Interactive Learning
•Group Work/Projects
•Visualization of concept
through hands-onactivities
•Open-ended Questions
•Instructional Design
•Immediate Feedback
•Question and Answer
•Computer Assisted
•Direct Instruction
•Video, Visual
The information included in this presentation
provides a foundation for understanding the
many diverse learning theories that have been
developed and their importance in education.
Three learning theories have been presented
along with the basic concepts concerning
them. I have discussed the work done by
theorists in forming these views on learning as
well as how these theories can be incorporated
in the classroom with the use of technology.