Learning Theory Matrix Defined

For this Blog Post we were asked to look at the following theories and answer the same question for each theory based off of the Learning Theory Matrix.  In this blog post I will be examining the following six theories:

Behaviorist Theory, Cognitive Theory, Constructivist Theory, Social Learning Theory, Connectivism and Adult Learning. The following questions will be defined and answered for each of theories and sourced appropriately based off of the research that I did for each theory

  1. How does learning occur?
  2. What factors influence learning?
  3. What is the role of memory?
  4. How does transfer occur?
  5. What types of learning are best explained by this theory?
  6. How is technology used for learning in your field?


behavorist imageBehaviorist Theory

Learning occurs by proper response and is demonstrated. Key elements/stimulus, the response and association between the two Ertmer & Newby (1993, pg. 55).

The key elements are the stimulus, the response and the association between the two. Primary concern is the association between the stimulus and response is made, strengthened and maintained. Behaviorism focuses on the importance of the consequences of those performances and contends that responses followed by reinforcement are more likely to recur in the future Winn, (1990).

Learner & Environmental factors are important but environmental conditions receive greater emphasis. Behaviorist assess learners to determine when to begin instruction and specific rein forcers for each learner. Most critical is the stimulus and consequences within the environment Schunk, (1991).

Memory is not usually something that is addressed by behaviorist, the idea of “habit” is discussed yet there is very little emphasis placed on “habit” and more focus on forgetting, attributed to “non-use” of response overtime. Periodic practice or review serves to maintain the learners’ readiness to respond Schunk, (1991).

Transfer is more of a generalization where situations involving identical or similar features allow behaviors to transfer across common elements, think Pavlov’s Dog Experiment or the rat that becomes conditioned as he pushes the lever down and receives a reward (food) Pavlov (1903).

Most learning is done by Instructional cuing, practice & reinforcement (recalling facts) behavioral principles can’t adequately explain higher level skills or those that require higher levels of processing Schunk, (1991)

Emphasis is placed on observable and measurable outcomes in students (behavioral objectives, task analysis, and criterion referenced analysis)

Some of the suggested technological ways of learning are gamification, computer assisted learning, minimal competency testing.

Cognitive Image Cognitive Learning Theory

Learning occurs as focused thinking and problem solving, language, concept formation and information processing Snelbecker (1983).

This theory stresses the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures and as such are closer to the rationalist end of the epistemology continuum Bower & Highland, (1981).

Learning is equated with discrete changes between states of knowledge rather than with changes in the probability of response. Concerned with what learners know & how they came to it. (Jonassen, 1991 b).

Knowledge is described as a mental activity entailing internal coding & structuring by the leader. The learner is viewed as being a very active participant in the learning process. Emphasis is placed on the environmental conditions and how they play a role in the facilitation of learning.

Memory plays a very prominent role in the learning process, instructional explanations, demonstrations, illustrative examples & matched non-examples are all considered to be instrumental in guiding the students learning. The role is practiced and corrective feedback is then given Shuell, (1986)

Transfer occurs when a learner understands how to apply knowledge in different contexts, transfer has occurred. Understanding is seen as being composed of a knowledge base in the form of rules, concepts & discrimination’s (Duffy & Jonassen, 1991). Prior knowledge is used. Not only has the knowledge itself needed to be stored to memory but also the uses of that knowledge.

It is important to communicate or transfer knowledge to the student in the most effective, efficient manner.

Bednar et al.., (1991).

Some of the more popular technology utilized for this particular learning is Discovery Learning, Scaffolding, Cooperative learning, Active Engagement (Social Networks, Blogs, Educational Posts) Duepel, (2003).

constructivismConstructivist Theory

The role of learning in this theory is on knowledge function of how individuals create meaning from his or her experiences. (p.10).

The roots of constructivism came from the works of Piaget, Bruner, and Goodman Perkins, (1991)

Constructivism has recently become a “hot” issue as it has gained increased attention in many fields including Instructional Design Bedner et al.., (1991)

Constructivist believe that the mind filters input from the world to produce its own unique reality

(Jonassen, (1991 a) Humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it.

Learning is influenced by both critical factors the learner & environmental. Specific interactions between these two variables creates knowledge. Instead of learning specifics content knowledge must be embedded in the situation in which it is used Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989).

The goal of instruction is not to ensure that individuals know particular facts but that they are able to elaborate on and interpret information. “Understanding is developed through continued, situated use and does not crystallize into a categorical definition” Memory is always under construction as concept continues to evolve with each new situation (Brown et al.., 1989, p. 33).

Transfer occurs when creation of cognitive tools which reflect wisdom of the culture in which they are used as well as insights and experiences of the individuals; to be successful, meaningful, and lasting, learning must include all three of these Complex crucial factors activity (practice) concept (knowledge) and culture (context)  Brown et al…, (1989). Facilitated by involvement in authentic tasks anchored in meaningful contexts.

Learning can be best explained by Situation tasks in real world contexts. Modeling & Coaching. Collaborative learning to look at different views, debate/ discussions. Use of real examples. Alternate ways to look at transferring knowledge in different ways.

Some of the more popular ways to utilize technology in this learning theory are Email, Moodle, texting, messaging, online learner networks Desal et al., (1998, p.328).


social network linkedin story boardSocial Learning Theory

People learn from observing other people. Observations take place in a social setting Merriam & Caffarella (1991:134)

Observation allows people to see the consequences of others behaviors. Most human behavior is learned observation ally through modeling from observing others during this rehearsal process individuals observe their own behaviors & compare to their cognitive representation of modeled experience Hergenhahn (1988) quoted in Merriam & Caffarella (1991:135)

Emphasis of culture &context in understanding what occurs in society & constructing knowledge based on this understanding Derry (1999), McMahon (1997)

The mental state is crucial to learning. Bandura stated that not only external reinforcement or factors can affect learning & behavior. There’s also what he called intrinsic reinforcement, in the form of internal reward or a better feeling after performing the behavior (sense of accomplishment, confidence, satisfaction. Learning does not mean that there will be a change in the Individuals. Behaviors

Modeling process developed by Bandura helps us to understand that not all observed behaviors could be learned effectively, nor learning can necessarily result to behavioral changes, modeling includes 1. attention must pay attention to learn. The more interesting the more attention you will pay. 2. Retention of newly learned behavior is necessary. 3. reproduction when you have successfully paid attention & retained the relevant info. You can demonstrate the behavior. Practice of the behavior by repeatedly doing it is important for improvement and motivation to repeat the behavior  Sincero ,(2011).

Transfer happens by a blending of two theories the behaviorist theory and Cognitive theory. The more interesting the stimuli the better chance of learning

Modeling behavior happens in many learning opportunities. Reading for example, practice of such modeled behavior usually aides in better reading skills, social skills, athleticism, musical talent, behaviors knowing the difference in right and wrong is modeled behavior Sincero (2011).

Some of the more common technology used is E-learning, interactive leanings, social networks, Skype, email, Moodle, texting and messaging Desai et al.., (1998, p. 328)

connectivism imagesConnectivism learning theory integrates technology, social networks Siemens (2006).

Organizational and Personal learning become an integrated task where various networks feed into other networks and so on which is where the learning is provided to the individuals.  The teacher no longer serves in the same capacity but more in the following capacities as a guide in the following ways:

  1. Amplifying
  2. Curating
  3. Way finding and socially driven sense making
  4. Aggregating
  5. Filtering
  6. Modelling
  7. Persistent presence

Andragongy Adult learners are free, autonomous and growth oriented

Knowles (1980, p 43) Learners are very much self-directed and proactive in their learning Knowles (1975)

The factors involved in this learning are various important to the Connectivism learning where the learner must be able to see the connections in various fields, ideas and concepts (Out of the box thinking) Learning becomes more about knowledge creation not just knowledge consumption Downes (2012)

Interestingly enough there are two theories that influence this learning but I would even venture to say that there are more than two that clearly support the learning process:

Behaviorist Theory, Constructivist Theory and Cognitive Theory in fact I believe that Adult Theory is also very much present in Connectivism Theory.

This particular theory is more about the knowledge process and creation not just memorizing facts to memorize them. By linking the sources of knowledge (Siemens, 2006)

This theory is fairly complex in nature so to say that there is one particular type is next to impossible. Social dimensions are very much a part of this theory as defined by Bruner & Bandura and later Vgotsky who also focused on the cultural principles as well; visualization plays a significant role in this theory as well Siemens, (2006)

Complex in nature as you must be able to find the connections within the information you find by using technology Laureate Education Inc. (2009).

Connectivism is built on technology where social networks Facebook, twitter, blogging, LinkedIn etc. are used, and Internet Google, Yahoo,. Virtual classrooms etc.

Adult Education used in Blog Post week 7Andragogy Adult learners are free, autonomous and growth oriented Knowles (1980, p 43)

Learning is very much self-directed and proactive in their learning Knowles (1975)

The following factors are influential in adult learning:

  1. Self-Concept- As people mature they move from being dependent in their learning to more self-directed
  2. Experience- As people mature experiences provide them with a resource for learning
  3. Readiness to learn As people mature they are more interested in learning things relevant to their jobs or personal lives
  4. Orientation to learning Perspective changes from gathering knowledge for future use to immediate application of knowledge. Problem centered, more than subject centered Knowles, (1984)
  1. Motivation to learn As people mature they become more motivated by various internal incentives, need for self-esteem, curiosity, desire to achieve, satisfaction of accomplishment
  2. Relevance- As people mature they need to know why they need to learn something Knowles, (1984)

Short Term Memory (STM)

Adult’s memory span is approximately 7 (between 5 and 9) unrelated items (Miller, 1956). STM capacity typically increases as people age until it reaches a maximum in young adulthood Dempster, (1981); Huttenlocher & Burke (1976). Memory starts to decline in old age Kali & Salthouse, (1994). To chunk something it needs to fit together readily as a pattern distinct from the things around it Gobet et al.., (2001). For words or pictures to a chunk, they need to be familiar to the person Miller, (1956) and available in long-term memory. This illustrates that STM overlaps with and relies upon Long Term Memory( LTM) to function efficiently.

Transfer occurs when there is Action Learning, Experimental Learning, Project Based Learning and Self Directed Learning Mandy McEntyre and Jenn Pahl (2006).

Self-Direction is key to this theory as well as Relevance and Action Theory Mandy McEntyre and Jenn Pahl (2006)

Technology is commonly used in the form of Social Networking, Online learning classroom and informal education sites, bogging, wiki, Google, Pinterest, virtual classrooms and simulations


Behaviorist Theory

Classical Conditioning (Pavlov). Learning Theories Pavlov. 

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Behaviorism and instructional design [Video file]. Retrieved Feb 22, 2015 from https://class.waldenu.edu

Standridge, M. (2001). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. 

Cognitive Theory

Milligan, M Short Term Memory and Working Memory.

Constructivist Theory

Beaumie, K. (2006). Social Constructivism

Ford, K & Lott, L. (2008). 


Social Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory (Bandura). 

Cherry, K (2015). 

Sarah Mae Sincero  Social Learning Theory. 


Deubel, P. (2003). An investigation of behaviorist and cognitive approaches to instructional multimedia design. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 12(1), 63-90.  http://www.ct4me.net/multimedia_design.htm

Leberman, S., McDonald, L and Doyle, S. The Transfer of Learning Participants’ Perspectives of Adult Education and Training.

Siemens, G, Downes, S. (2015). Connectivism.

Adult Learning

Keesee, G (2014).  Andragogy…. Adult Learning Theory. 

Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative. Adult Learning Theory and Principles.

Lim, C Engaging Learners in Online Learning Environments.
















































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