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  • Major Theorist: Lev Vygotsky
  • Major Characteristics: Lev Vygotsky's sociocultural theory posits that learning is inherently social and cultural. It highlights the importance of the social environment in cognitive development. The concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) emphasizes the range of tasks a learner can perform with assistance but cannot do alone. Language is a central tool for thought and plays a crucial role in learning.
  • Role of Memory: In sociocultural theory, memory is considered a dynamic, socially mediated process. It is shaped by cultural tools, language, and social interactions. Vygotsky argued that memory is not only an individual cognitive function but is distributed across the social and cultural context.
  • How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through collaboration, social interaction, and participation in cultural practices. Vygotsky suggested that individuals learn from more knowledgeable peers or adults, leading to the internalization of cultural knowledge and skills.
  • Types of Learning: Sociocultural theory is particularly applicable to collaborative learning, apprenticeships, and situations where learners engage in meaningful activities within their social and cultural context. It is often used to understand how cultural factors influence cognitive development.

Sociocultural Theory

Piaget and Vygotsky diverge in their perspectives on language development, with Piaget emphasizing thought as the driver of language, while Vygotsky asserts that language and thought intertwine around the age of 3, forming an internal dialogue to comprehend the world, which is influenced by their social environment, providing cognitive and linguistic skills and tools for understanding. Vygotsky discusses Elementary Mental Functions, such as Attention, Sensation, Perception, and Memory, which children refine through interactions with their sociocultural environment, with cultural variations observed in learning approaches, such as memory techniques like note-taking, mind-maps, or storytelling, reflecting the diverse cultural influences on cognitive development (Loveless et al., 2023).

  • Major Theorists: Malcolm Knowles, Andragogy; Jack Mezirow, Transformative Learning
  • Major Characteristics: Adult learning theory, or Andragogy, is based on the assumptions that adult learners are self-directed, have accumulated life experiences, and are motivated by practical goals. Malcolm Knowles and Jack Mezirow are associated with different aspects of this theory. Transformative learning, proposed by Mezirow, focuses on shifts in perspective and personal transformation.
  • Role of Memory: Memory in adult learning is viewed as a repository of experiences and prior knowledge. Adults draw upon their existing knowledge base, and learning often involves reflecting on and integrating new information with their past experiences.
  • How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through active participation, self-directed exploration, and reflection on personal experiences. Adult learners are motivated by the relevance of the learning content to their lives and are more likely to be engaged when they see the practical applicability of the knowledge.
  • Types of Learning: Adult learning theory is applicable to situations where learners are self-directed, have a wealth of life experiences, and seek practical, problem-centered learning. It is often employed in professional development, continuing education, and workplace training contexts, where learners bring diverse experiences and knowledge to the learning environment. Learning, as it progresses, crystallizes into dependable truths that streamline decision-making or action-taking, leading to the development of habitual learning, while generative knowing, an evolving theory of adult learning, aims to unveil undiscovered potential within the depth of experience (Loveless et al., 2023).

Adult Learning Theory

"Generative Knowing" aims to achieve four objectives:

  1. It offers a unique exploration of learning, framed as response-ability, illustrating the interconnection between learning and intricate societal challenges, such as forced migration (Loveless et al., 2023).
  2. It introduces and distinguishes an emerging theory of adult learning, generative knowing, which arises from the intersection of personal meaning-making capacity, encounters with rising ambiguity, and lived experiences (Loveless et al., 2023).
  3. It elucidates the connections between generative knowing on an individual level and the complex societal challenges of today, helping others understand these connections (Loveless et al., 2023).
  4. It provides examples of generative knowing, its impact on personal and societal transformation, and its potential to support educators, facilitators, and change activists in fostering generative knowing amidst complex challenges demanding personal and societal change (Loveless et al., 2023).

  • Major Theorist: George Siemens
  • Major Characteristics: Connectivism acknowledges the transformative impact of technology on learning. It emphasizes the need for learners to navigate networks, make connections, and access information effectively rather than memorizing facts. George Siemens introduced the concept, highlighting the role of digital tools and the distributed nature of knowledge.
  • Role of Memory: Connectivism challenges traditional views of memory by suggesting that memory is distributed across networks. It's not about memorizing information but about knowing where and how to find relevant information when needed. "All one has to do is look at any of a host of new apps or web-based software to see this principle of the Connectivism Theory at play. The ability to connect data and information sources and make meaning from that data is what it means to learn in the information world" (Utecht et al., 2019).
  • How Learning Occurs: Learning occurs through the creation and navigation of networks. Learners are encouraged to cultivate their Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and stay connected to diverse sources of information. Adaptability and the ability to filter and synthesize information are crucial skills.
  • Types of Learning: Connectivism is relevant in digital environments, online communities, and situations where the emphasis is on networked learning. It is particularly suited to understanding how individuals learn in the information age and how they can stay connected to stay informed.


In today's rapidly evolving landscape, knowledge is increasingly assessed based on the ability to rapidly acquire, discard, and adapt information. Educators have a significant opportunity to engage students by embracing this shift towards just-in-time learning, fostering a new set of core literacy skills and promoting connected learning environments that cater to the needs of learners in the digital age (Utecht et al., 2019).