Learning and Learning Theories

What is learning?

Learning can be commonly defined as the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill. In psychology and education, learning refers to a process that brings together cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one’s knowledge, skills, values, and world views (Illeris, 2000; Ormorod, 1995, cited in wikipedia). For some theorists learning is a change in behavior. For others, it’s an internal mental process (including insight, information processing, memory, perception). Learning as a process focuses on what happens when the learning takes place. Explanations of learning as a product or as a process constitute learning theories.

What is a learning theory?

A learning theory is a body of principles advocated by psychologists and educators to explain how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning. Learning theories provide us with vocabulary and a conceptual framework for describing, explaining and interpreting the instances of learning that we observe. Learning theories also guides us to look for solutions to practical problems.

Learning theories

There are three major categories of learning theories:

These theories do not give us ready-made solutions. However, but they guide us to those variables that are crucial in finding solutions. The philosophical frameworks behind these learning theories try to describe or explain how people learn and under what conditions.

  • Behaviorism focuses only on the objectively observable aspects of learning.
  • Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning.
  • Constructivism views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts.

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