Intro to Theories of Learning

The attached course module (pdf) offers a quick overview of some key historical and contemporary theories that can help to keep school designers focused on key issues of learning and development.

The focus of schools on learning is often taken for granted. In fact, schools serve a wide variety of purposes beyond supporting the learning of students (including for example, including housing young people during the day; sorting students into programs and roles etc.). Furthermore, schools are often assumed to be the location where learning should take place. Yet, learning takes place formally and informally, inside as well as outside of schools and classrooms.  While schools or other existing educational organizations and environments might fit the purposes of learning well, the questions – why learn? And why go to school? – always need to be asked. As a consequence, educators and school designers need to be able to consider and reflect on their purposes, the learning goals that need to be achieved to accomplish those purposes, and the elements of their design that they think will support the pursuit of those goals and purposes. Such consideration is a central aspect of articulating the theory of action underlying educational experiences, determining what’s working and what’s not, and pursuing productive improvements.