Theories on how people learn are not new. Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, Skinner and others have theorized for years how it is we come to “know” things.
Unlike many theories involving physics for example, it is unlikely that a single learning theory is “right,” and will ultimately prove other theories “wrong.” How people learn is complex, and any unifying theory on how it all happens that’s entirely accurate would likely be too vague to be helpful. In that way, each “theory” is more of a way to describe one truth out of many.
4 Traditional Theories Of Learning
Of the published research and science, three of the more popular theories in the last fifty years are behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. The infographic below reviews the pros and cons of each approach while making a case for connectivism as a response to the age of the internet and information.
1. Behaviorism: learning is a process of reacting to external stimuli
2. Cognitivism: learning is a process of acquiring and storing information
3. Constructivism: meaning is continuously “constructed” through experience and reflection
4. Connectivism: learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes
A Visual Primer On Learning Theory