- Action learning
- Activity theory
- Cascade model of learning
- Cognitive learning theory
- Communities of practice
- Computational theories of learning
- Constructivist theory
- Conversation model of learning
- Conversation theory
- Criterion referenced instruction
- Elaboration theory
- Experiential learning
- Flexible learning
- Instructionism or instructivism
- Instructional theories and design
- Learning styles
- Performance simulation
- Problem-based learning
- Situated learning
- Scaffold learning
- Socially-mediated learning
- Transmission model of communication
Note: This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of pedagogies, but should be used as a starting point for exploring different teaching and learning models.
Action Learning: This approach to learning was developed by Reg Revans. It focuses not upon what we know but what we don’t know. Within a set or group often work-based problems are discussed and reframed in a learning context, through sharing experiences and advice action is suggested and solutions discussed. In this way learning from shared experience provides often-creative solutions for businesses and organisations.
Activity theory: The Marxian activity theory was developed in the 1920s and 30s by Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), A. N. Leont’ev (1904-1979) and A. R. Luria (1902-1977) in Russia. In their attempts to overcome the dominant strands of psychology (behaviourism and psycho-analysis) they put forward a model of artefact-mediation and object-orientated action. The ‘theory’ suggests that the relationship between objects in the environment and the human agent are mediated by culture, by community, by labour and by development. Activity theory also suggests a difference between internalisation and externalisation. Mental processes correspond to internal activities and external processes include cultural and collective activities, however these processes cannot be seen in isolation from one another.
Andragogy: Knowles defined andragogy as ‘the science and art of helping adults to learn’. He defined five elements of the learning process, 1) the concept of the learner, 2) the role of the learner’s experience, 3) readiness to learn, 4) orientation to learning and 5) motivation. Knowles defined andragogy as a theory of learning for adults as opposed to pedagogy, which focuses more consistently upon the learning of children.
Behaviourism: This is the School of Psychology that relates to behaviour as a central component of learning. Beginning with central findings of Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) a Russian Noble Prize winning Physiologist, about ‘conditioning reflex’. Pavlov provided the basis of behaviourism highlighting the importance of stimulus for learning. Later John Watson, an American Psychologist (1878-1958), building on the work of Pavlov outlined a whole new branch of behaviourism know as behaviourism, denying Freudianism and heredity and instead explaining behaviour and learning as part of nervous ‘wiring’. B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist (1904-1990) extended the behaviourist approach, describing the learning process as beginning when we are babies, then we are a black box upon which experience and conditioning are written. He developed ideas about the ‘operant conditioning’ and ‘shaping behaviour’.
Cascade model of learning: The cascade model of learning relies upon passing on skills from the teacher or tutor to a small number of their students, who in turn pass on the skills to others. The model is collaborative and works well for the transferral of technical skills.
Cognitive learning theory: Relating closely to how cognitive skills develop. This set of theories is underpinned by cognitive science and the development of psychology. While social cognitive theory owes its heritage to social learning theory founded in the1800s; Albert Bandura in 1986 wrote his seminal book: Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, which ignited social cognitive learning theory.
Communities of Practice: Etienne Wenger, an American Learning Theorist developed the idea of learning in various social contexts with communities. Wenger and Jean Lave (and anthropologist) argue that everyone participates in communities of practice, at home, school and at work and that this is our primary method of learning. “…identity, knowing and social membership entail one another”.
Computational theories of learning: derive from artificial intelligence and metaphors of computer science rather than from psychology, cognitivism, or philosophy. Starting from Alan Matheson Turing the computer has been used as a metaphor for the human brain and its functioning.
Constructivism: The theory of constructivism is based upon the thinking of John Dewey, an American philosopher (1859-1952), who questioned traditional epistemology, Dewey instead came to believe that:
…the theory of knowledge must begin with a consideration of the development of knowledge as an adaptive human response to environing conditions aimed at an active restructuring of these conditions. Unlike traditional approaches in the theory of knowledge, which saw thought as a subjective primitive out of which knowledge was composed.
Constructivist theory: This theory is put forward by Bruner and relates to constructivism, here learning is an active process where learners construct new ideas through the use of their knowledge and understanding.
Conversation model of learning: This model is developed by Diana Laurillard from her seminal text Rethinking University Teaching, breaking away from the traditional instructional mode of lecturing, Laurillard argues that dialogue between teacher and student should be advocated, following from the Socratic method of question and answer.
Conversation Theory: Conversation Theory was developed from the cybernetics framework by Gordon Pask, and explains learning in living beings and machines. Its central tenet is that learning takes place from conversations, which operate at different levels (natural language, object language and metalanguage).
Criterion referenced instruction: This framework, developed by Robert Mager, provides a comprehensive methodology for delivery and design of instruction programmes. It includes: goal analysis, performance objectives, evaluation and linking together modules and learning outcome.
Experiential learning: Experiential learning is a model of learning developed by David Kolb, in 1984. His model is developed from the learning cycle developed by Kurt Lewin (a Gestalt psychologist – 1890-1947). This cycle suggests that there are four stages of adult learning: concrete experience, reflection, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. Kolb also built on the work of John Dewey and Jean Piaget (a French Psychologist).
Flexible learning: Flexible learning is a popular term and includes learning activities and learner choice as primary components. As well as relating to distance learning, the term has been applied to all kinds of learning.
For further information about flexible learning, see: Collis, B., and Moonen, J., Flexible Learning in a Digital World, London: Kogan Paul, 2001.
Instructionism or instructivism: Dates back to the medieval period, when emphasis was given to reading and listening due to the small numbers of those who could read. The model is perhaps best exemplified by the traditional lecture where the lecturer talks and the students listen. In the more interactive early twenty-first century problems have been identified with this method of instruction, the so-called ‘transmission’ method, including: the passivity of the student, the over-emphasis on theory; lack of collaborative or social learning; and the untailored nature of the learning. Instructivism is often used to define constructivism. It should perhaps be emphasised that instructivism, or the ‘instructivist model of learning’ as I have nominated has served higher education well for a long period and therefore should be considered when developing new models of learning.
Instructional theories and design: This family of theories relates to training, Robert Gagne for example argues that there are different levels of learning that require different types of instruction. He presents different types of learning including: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills and attitudes. He maps instructional events with cognitive processes in his ‘Conditions of learning theory’. The theory was particularly applied to the military context.For more information, see: Gagne, R., ‘Military training and principles of learning’, American Psychologist, 17, 1962. See also: Gagne, R., The Conditions of Learning, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1985. For information about instructional design see: Gagne, R., Briggs, L. & Wager, W., Principles of Instructional Design, Fort Worth, Texas: HBJ College Publishers, 1992.
Learning styles: Learners learn differently, attempts to classify these differences have led to an understanding of learning styles. Examples of the classification of learning styles include: the Felder-Silverman learning model which organises learners into either sensing, visual, inductive, active or sequential learners or conversely as either intuitive, verbal, deductive, reflective or global learners. The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument classifies thinking in terms of logical (left brain cerebral), holistic (right brain cerebral), sequential (left brain limbic or emotional (right brain limbic). The Kolb’s learning style inventory organises the learner as learning either through concrete experience or abstract conceptualisation, or through either active experimentation or reflective observation. Honey and Mumford’s system of learning classification follows from Kolb’s it proposes four types of learners: the activists; the reflectors; the pragmatist’s or the theorist’s. The Grascha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scale divides learners into competitive, avoidant and dependent. Myers-Briggs type indicator divides learners along Jungian psychological types: judgers or perceivers, thinkers or feelers, introverts or extroverts and sensors or ‘intuitors’. Certainly elements of all of the above have validity for describing learners and each learners experience may vary from one type to another.
Motivation: According to Maslow, motivation is necessary for learning. In his hierarchy, there are different levels of motivation from thirst and hunger to physical and psychological well being to love and belonging to self-esteem to the final level of ‘self-actualization’. There is also intrinsic or inner motivation and extrinsic or external motivation.
Performance Simulation: The use of simulations for training is long established. Simulations have been used for flight and military training since the 1970’s, more recently they have been used for medical and business training. Performance simulation relies upon the fact that learning by doing is the most efficacious way of learning and is therefore used in critical training situations, broadly following from the model of experiential learning.
Problem-based learning: Problem-based learning also builds on the efficacy of experiential learning and promotes learning through an investigation of a problem which learners must solve in groups or individually, in role-playing or scenario based contexts. Learning is student centred and relies upon self-directed learning.
Situated Learning: Situated learning is derived from Vygotskyian theories. This theory rests upon the notion that knowledge is situated and therefore effective learning should take place within the context in which the knowledge will be applied. Learning therefore engages with the learners through developing their learning processes using ‘scaffolding’ to support cognitive development. Situated learning also implies the efficacy of collaborative learning and workplace learning.
Scaffold learning: Scaffolding for learning assists learner in constructing more complex thinking tools for learning.
For more information about scaffold learning, see: Hogan, K., & Pressley, M., Ed., Scaffolding Student Learning: Instructional Approaches and Issues, New York, University of Albany, State University of New York, 1998.
Socially mediated Learning: The theory of socially mediated learning begins with Lev Vygotsky (a Russian Cognitivist). Developed by Albert Bandura (a Canadian Psychologist), this theory stated that learning was a social process and governed by social interactions.
Transmission model of communication: This model of communications relies upon the notion of communication as the transmission of information. The model proposed in 1949 by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver – engineers working at the Bell Telephone Labs in the United States – extended from a mathematical theory of communications. Defining this transmission as bits per second, the theory has been used in computer science. The model consists of: information source; transmitter; channel; receiver and destination as well as noise or interference of transmission. While the communications model is simple and helpful it is not generally considered as a viable modern understanding of human communications today.