Theories of Learning and Teaching

A crash course in theories of learning and teaching. Quite a lot to take in and remember – I’m glad we have a refresher in January. However here are are a few key things we covered.

Different kinds of learning were discussed, including; change in cognitive structure, change in motivation, change in ideology or beliefs. Of particular interest to me was control of the body musculature – given that I teach students how hand materials, tools and technologies, which effects pyscomotor skills and applies kinaesthetic learning.

Behaviourism – Classical Conditioning (Pavlov) / Operant conditioning (Skinner)

Cognitive – Transmission/assimilation of knowledge, very much focused on what the teacher does.

Constructivist – Learning as an active process, student-centred

Constructive alignment  – (Biggs and Tang, 2011), which suggests teaching & learning activities and assessment should be aligned to intended learning outcomes/curriculum objectives, through the use of action verbs to define level of learning and understanding.

Deep vs. surface approaches to learning (Biggs)

Superb video by RSA Animate, adapted from a speech by Ken Robinson titled Changing Education Paradigms

A great article by Lee Dunn of Oxford Brookes University summarising some of the key learning and teaching theories – brilliant for reference, to swat up on key learning theories and their authors.

Dunn, L. 2002. Theories of Learning. Oxford Brookes University. [Online] Available: (Accessed 30 December 2015)

Summary of key learning theories

Preparatory activity included answering these four short questions about your own learning and etching experiences:

Your own learning experiences – Short questionnaire


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