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These learning theories provide different perspectives on how learning takes place, each offering valuable insights into various aspects of the learning process. The choice of theory often depends on the educational goals, content, and the nature of the learners and the learning environment. The learning theory provides insights into how learners interact with instruction, aiding in addressing design questions like the sequencing of "lab activity first, then direct instruction" or "direct instruction, then laboratory activity," ensuring that instructional changes are purposeful and grounded in established mechanisms for learning, thus avoiding the critique of educational changes made merely for the sake of change(Burton et al., 2016).

Gould, M. (2021). Learning Process. Salem Press Encyclopedia.Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2016). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. (7th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN-13: 9780134060354Peters-Burton, E. E. (2016). Application of Learning Theory to Curriculum and Instruction Design. School Science & Mathematics, 116(8), 409–410. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/ssm.12200


Major Theorist: B.F. Skinner, John B. Watson, and Ivan Pavlov. Major Characteristics: Behaviorism focuses on observable behaviors and external stimuli. It suggests that learning is a result of environmental conditioning, with an emphasis on stimulus-response associations and reinforcement. Role of Memory: Memory is seen as the storage and recall of learned behaviors based on reinforcement and conditioning. How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through the association of stimuli and responses. Positive reinforcement strengthens behavior, while punishment weakens it. Types of Learning: Behaviorism is well-suited to explaining rote memorization, skill acquisition, and behaviors that can be directly observed and measured.


Expressions in adult learning encompass behavioral goals, competency-based education, skill enhancement, cognitive growth, age-related changes in intelligence, learning, and memory, acquiring learning strategies, andragogy, self-directed learning, social integration, active participation, social connections, and conversational learning (Gould, 2021).

  • Major Theorists: Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Jerome Bruner.
  • Major Characteristics: Cognitivism focuses on mental processes, such as memory, problem-solving, and thinking. It suggests that learning involves the active processing of information by the learner.
  • Role of Memory: Memory is seen as an active process involving encoding, storage, and retrieval of information.
  • How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through mental processes like attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. It emphasizes the importance of internal cognitive structures in understanding new information.
  • Types of Learning: Cognitivism is effective in explaining complex learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, and the acquisition of abstract concepts.


Ongoing debate persists over the influence of genetics versus surroundings on cognitive outcomes, such as IQ and academic achievements in schools, and as educators increasingly recognize academic success beyond mere scores, these discussions are expected to heighten, underscoring the importance for curriculum specialists to stay informed due to the broader implications for education and teaching theories (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2016).

  • Major Theorists: Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and John Dewey.
  • Major Characteristics: Constructivism posits that learners actively construct knowledge based on their experiences, prior knowledge, and social interactions. It emphasizes the role of the learner in making meaning from information.
  • Role of Memory: Memory is seen as an integral part of the construction of knowledge, where new information is linked to and built upon existing cognitive structures.
  • How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through active engagement, reflection, and social interaction. Constructivism suggests that learners build their understanding through exploration, inquiry, and collaboration.
  • Types of Learning: Constructivism is well-suited to explaining deep understanding, problem-solving in real-world contexts, and the development of metacognitive skills.


Optimal learning occurs when students consciously connect new information with existing knowledge, engaging in metacognition by being aware of the cognitive processes involved in constructing, inventing, and utilizing knowledge, particularly in a constructivist context where learners question, interpret, and interact with their world, emphasizing the contemporary need for actively integrating technology into the classroom beyond traditional constraints(Ornstein & Hunkins, 2016).