Archive for July, 2013

Reflection: Learning Theories in Education

July 1, 2013 Leave a comment

I’d like to reflect on what I have learned and how I can apply it as an instructional designer.

This course focused on learning theories. Regardless of their names, all theories serve as frameworks for conducting research, organizing specific pieces of information, demonstrating the complexity and subtly of events, and finally bringing new insights to situations. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Based on what we’ve studied, I’ve come to believe learning theories are connected in three ways.

  1. They all are formally considered theories when they specifically illustrate the theorist’s basic beliefs, explicitly define key terms, and provide assumptions that can be tested via research.  (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  2. The can morph or support subsequent theories and generalizations (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  3. They can guide, based on the content and delivery, an instructional designers approach to teaching and learning (Kerr, 2009)

I’ve also learned there is no “one-size-fits-all” reference for learning theories. While outdated, I believe theories like behaviorism can be applicable. For example, telling my child to say, “You’re Welcome” after someone says, “Thank you.”

When she was younger, it was a response. As she became older should could cognitively process the logic behind the exchange and subsequently initiate the phrase “Thank you.”

I also believe social learning theory and connectivism are buoys for – and buoyed by — online learning environments. They promote fast-changing networks of information that are evolving with the shortest half-lives we’ve seen in decades. (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman) Half-life has not shrunk in all areas but Milton (2013) wrote learners are most competitive when they have the most valid knowledge. Hanging on to old knowledge or information past its half-life is potentially dangerous.

What I found most striking as I studied these theories was the amazing body of work focusing on how people think. We spent an entire eight weeks steeped in metacognition or thinking about thinking. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

The chapter on neuroscience was fascinating.  I thought it was particularly interesting that declaring something simple and singular as my home address or phone number could simultaneously involve information retrieval from multiple areas of my brain. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Also during this course, I realized my personal learning process had been formed by factors that were environmental, social, cultural – even biological. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Learning about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has helped me to appreciate the cognitive strengths or acumens of humans and understand the positive or negative impacts of physical and social environments to support or curtail them.

Concluding, as I move forward in my career as an instructional designer I fully intend to:

Design all instruction based on my knowledge of learning theories. Additionally, I will be cognizant of how the brain works to acquire, store, and retrieve information. I will couple the former with sensitivity to humans’ multiple intelligences.

It is my intention moving forward to apply the best practices for engaging and motivating students to successfully acquire new knowledge or behaviors.


Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog]. Retrieved from

Milton, N. (2013, January 14) The shrinking half-life of knowledge. Knocko Stories: From the Knowledge Management Front Line. [Weblog]. Retrieved from

Ormrod, J. (nd). Information Processing and Problem Solving. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Categories: Walden 6115