Learning Theories

Many Learning Theories have been developed over a long period of time, though a majority of those now in use have arisen in the last century or so.

These theories apply to many different levels of educational learning.

Several theories and theorists stand out among this group, many for quite different reasons. Not all theories or theorists are covered on this page.

For information on Learning & Teaching Styles, related methods and further information, go to this page.

This page covers major theorists and their theories. Information includes biographies, information, further sources and an increasing number of videos.

A - H

Bandura, Albert

Bandura and his Social Cognitive Theory.

Bloom’s Taxonomy


  • Updated ! Constructivism and the Five E’s
    ‘The 5 E’s is an instructional model based on the constructivist approach to learning, which says that learners build or construct new ideas on top of their old ideas’.
  • New ! Constructivism Learning Theory
    ‘Constructivism learning theory is a philosophy which enhances students’ logical and conceptual growth. The underlying concept within the constructivism learning theory is the role which experiences-or connections with the adjoining atmosphere-play in student education’.
  • New ! Constructivism [Philosophy of Education)
    History, Constructivist learning intervention; The role of the instructor; The selection, scope, and sequencing of the subject matter; Pedagogies based on constructivism; Criticism; Confusion between constructivist and maturationist views; Radical Constructivism; Relational Constructivism; Social Constructivism; Communal Constructivism; Influence on computer science and robotics; references; further reading; external links. Wikipedia
  • emTech
    Constructivism, Instructivism and Related Sites. Annotated links to multiple sites.
  • The Five E’s Model
    ‘The following sections contain a description of the five phases [5E’s] of this instructional model’.

Top of Page

De Bono, Edward

Edward De Bono and lateral & creative thinking.

Dewey, John

Direct Instruction

Siegfried “Zig” Engelmann, ‘Dr. Wesley Becker, and their colleagues believe, [and have proved,] that correctly applied DI can improve academic performance as well as certain affective behaviors. It is currently in use in thousands of schools across the nation [USA] as well as in Canada, the UK and Australia’.

Educational Theories

Videos, of varying lengths, freely available online from a number of sources. Specific videos included with some individual topics on this page.

Emilia, Reggio

An approach rather than an individual’s theory.

Top of Page

Erikson, Erik

Information on the theorist and the Socioemotional Development Theory.

Freire, Paulo

Top of Page

Froebel, Friedrich

Created the concept of Kindergarten, its name, and had further input into the foundation of modern education.

Gagne, Robert

  • Conditions of Learning - Gagne
    ‘This theory stipulates that there are several different types or levels of learning. The significance of these classifications is that each different type requires different types of instruction. Gagne identifies five major categories of learning. Different internal and external conditions are necessary for each type of learning’.
  • Gagne Learning Theory
    Slideshare presentation [31 slides]. Text presentation in addition. Links to further material in this format are found on the right.
  • Gagne’s Nine Levels of Learning
    ‘Gagne’s Nine Levels of Learning provide a step-by-step approach that can help managers, trainers, and facilitators structure their training so that their students or teams get the most from their learning opportunities’.
  • Robert Gagné : The Conditions of Learning
    9+minute video from a course at an American university.

Gardner, Howard

See additional information on Multiple Intelligences on the Learning & Teaching Styles page.

Gestalt Theory

Gregorc, Anthony F.

Hattie, John [Visible Learning]

  • Evidence Based Teachers Network
    ‘Open to anyone in the teaching profession interested in using evidence-based methods either in their classroom or as a strategy for improving learning in their school or college’. UK Based. Information, resources, more.
  • New ! Hattie’ s Index Of Teaching & Learning Strategies : 39 Effect Sizes In Ascending Order
    ‘John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia, says ‘effect sizes’ are the best way of answering the question ‘what has the greatest influence on student learning ?’ ’.
  • John Hattie : Visible Learning Pt.1
    ‘Part 1 of edited highlights of a talk given by John Hattie who has led a team at Auckland University, New Zealand which compares the effect on learning of over 100 classroom interventions’. Part 2 is found here. Related videos are listed at the right of the screen.
  • Visible Learning
    News, videos, glossary, interview, rankings, weblinks, more.
  • Visible Learningplus
    ‘A professional development program for teachers that explores how evidence can be used to create innovation in the learning environment. Our work is focused on John Hattie’s research and the principles of Visible Learning and visible teaching’.

Top of Page

I - P

Knowles, Malcolm

  • Adult Learning Theory [Andragogy]
    ‘An overview of the Adult Learning Theory and definition of Andragogy’. Includes video, links and brief description.
  • Andragogy [Adult Learning]
    ‘A short video from the PC3 team focusing on Malcolm Knowles’ theory of andragogy or adult learning. This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License’.
  • Andragogy - Adult Learning Theory
    ‘The best known theory of adult learning is Knowles’ andragogy. As a teacher, writer, and leader in the field of adult education, Knowles was an innovator, responding to the needs of the field as he perceived them and, as such, he was a key figure in the growth and practice of adult education throughout the Western world’.
  • Knowles’ Andragogy : an angle on adult learning
    ‘Knowles’ formulation of the principles of andragogy may be taken as much as an integration or summation of other learning theorists as in its own right’.
  • Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy
    ‘A champion of andragogy, self-direction in learning and informal adult education. We review his life and achievements, and assess his contribution’.
  • The Adult Learning Theory - Andragogy - of Malcolm Knowles
    Overview, links to resources, references. This includes an Infographic.
  • What is Andragogy ?
    ‘Alexander Kapp and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy developed theories around adult education, which were later popularised by Malcolm Knowles - a theorist in adult education. For Knowles, adult learning was premised on these characteristics’.

Kolb, David

Maslow, Abraham

Mezirow, Jack

  • Mezirow’s Ten Phases of Transformative Learning
    ‘Mezirow states that there are four ways to learn : Refining or elaborating our meaning schemes [existing frames of reference]; Learning new meaning schemes [new frames of reference]; Transforming meaning schemes [habits of mind]; and Transforming meaning perspectives [points of view]’. Further sections about Transformative Learning.
  • Transformative Learning
    Mezirow, other perspectives, learning in practice including various roles, references, more. Wikipedia.
  • Transformative Learning Theory
    ‘The posting gives a brief summary of transformative learning theory, an important educational development of the last decade’. Done as part of a preparation for an upcoming presentation.
  • Transformative Learning Theory, An Overview
    PDF download from the site. You need to subscribe to read this and other documents but this is free.
  • Transformative Learning Theory - An Overview
    Part of a larger monograph. ‘This section provides a brief overview of transformative learning theory from the perspective of Jack Mezirow. Also discussed are the conditions that need to be present, from his perspective, to foster transformative learning’.

Montessori, Maria

  • American Montessori Consulting
    ‘Your one stop for complete Montessori information. Information, Montessori books, resources, links, discussion list, more’.
  • Introduction to Montessori and the Montessori Foundation
    ‘Video [8 mins.] produced as part of the National Education Report to briefly introduce Montessori education’. Links to related videos.
  • Maria Montessori
    Biography, background, career, methodology, references.
  • Montessori
    ‘The Montessori Foundation and the International Montessori Council’.
  • Montessori Method
    History, theory, practices, studies, terminology, references, links, more. Wikipedia.
  • The Montessori Method
    ‘The Philosophy & Practice of the Montessori Method of Education - for children from birth to age twelve, in the home and at school’.

Papert, Seymour

  • Constructionism
    ‘Constructionist learning is inspired by the constructivist theory that individual learners construct mental models in order to understand the world around them’. Instructional principles, Constructionism and technology, computer programming languages, references, links, more. Wikipedia.
  • Educational Robotics and Constructionism [Papert]
    ‘Seymour Papert, a leading constructionism advocate and researcher, is for bringing technology into classrooms as much as possible. Constructionism can mostly be found being used as an educational tool in science and maths classrooms, though it is spreading to other subjects as well’.
  • Papert’s Ideas : Mainly from Mindstorms
    ‘In my view the central tenants of Papert’s thesis are educationally, socially and politically somewhat more radical. So, what is Papert really on about ?’ Read and discover.
  • Thinking about Thinking about Seymour
    MIT Media Lab video.

Piaget, Jean

Top of Page

Q - Z

Rogers, Carl

Skinner, B.F.

Spearman, Charles

Steiner, Rudolf

Steiner and his theories, as demonstrated through implementation in Waldorf Schools.

Vygotsky, Lev

Wiliam, Dylan [Embedded Formative Assessment]

Top of Page

Other Information

  • 5 000 Year Timeline of Learning Theories
    Vimeo. 13+ minute video.
  • Angles on Learning
    ‘Introduction to theories of learning for college, adult and professional education’. Extensive listing and descriptions, by J S Atherton. Their Site Map lists these, in text-based groupings
  • Instructional Design & Learning Theory
    Brenda Mergel, University of Saskatchewan.
    ‘Knowledge base features learning theories that address how people learn. Useful for scholars of various fields such as educational psychology, instructional design, and human-computer interaction’.
  • Learning Theories
    Links to sites with research on learning.
  • Learning Theories [ALA]
    ‘We all learn in different ways. Learning theories explain how people learn and help us better understand complex processes. We will explore three major learning theories’. Includes video [approx. 3 min.].
  • Learning Theories and Philosophies as Applied to Schooling
    Grid presentation. Information about philosophers for each area, student actions, teacher actions, subject matter emphasised, desired educational outcomes.
  • Learning Theories and Teaching Models
    Link collection. Each link briefly annotated.
  • Learning Theory [Education]
    Educational psychology, Educational neuroscience, multiple intelligences, multimedia learning, other learning theories, Philosophical anthropology, criticism of learning theory, references, further reading, links. Wikipedia.
  • New ! Teaching Methods and Strategies : The Complete Guide
    ‘Figuring out the best ways you can deliver information to students can sometimes be even harder than what students go through in discovering how they learn best. The reason is because every single teacher needs a variety of different teaching methods. Using these different teaching methods, which are rooted in theory of different teaching styles, will not only help teachers reach their full potential, but more importantly engage, motivate and reach the students in their classes, whether in person or online’.
  • Updated ! Teaching Theories
    ‘There are three main categories into which learning theories fall : Behaviourist Theories, Cognitivist Theories and Constructivist Theories’. Annotated links.
  • The Second Principle
    Has the most used pages from old sites Newer Views of Learning Index and the Creativity Index.
  • The Theories
    Links to learning theories.

Top of Page

× Home Calendar Competitions Conferences Curriculum Education Resources Site Information Special Pages Teachers Tertiary