Monday, April 07, 2008

Mark K. Smith - Learning Theory

Mark K. Smith provides an interesting overview of learning theory. This is an article from the Encyclopedia of Informal Learning, which is dedicated to "exploring the theory and practice of informal education, lifelong learning, and social action."

This is a good article for those who are interested -- a great overview that includes perspectives from the behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, and social/situational approaches to learning.

Here is the introduction -- including a quote from Carl Rogers:

I want to talk about learning. But not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity! I am talking about LEARNING - the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his 'cruiser'. I am talking about the student who says, "I am discovering, drawing in from the outside, and making that which is drawn in a real part of me." I am talking about any learning in which the experience of the learner progresses along this line: "No, no, that's not what I want"; "Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I need"; "Ah, here it is! Now I'm grasping and comprehending what I need and what I want to know!" Carl Rogers 1983: 18-19

For all the talk of learning amongst educational policymakers and practitioners, there is a surprising lack of attention to what it entails. In Britain and Northern Ireland, for example, theories of learning do not figure strongly in professional education programmes for teachers and those within different arenas of informal education. It is almost as if it is something is unproblematic and that can be taken for granted. Get the instructional regime right, the message seems to be, and learning (as measured by tests and assessment regimes) will follow. This lack of attention to the nature of learning inevitably leads to an impoverishment of education. It isn't simply that the process is less effective as a result, but what passes for education can actually diminish well-being.

Here we begin by examining learning as a product and as a process. The latter takes us into the arena of competing learning theories - ideas about how learning may happen. We also look at Alan Roger's (2003) helpful discussion of task-conscious or acquisition learning, and learning-conscious or formalized learning.

Read the whole article.


Unknown said...


My name is Dana Den Boer and I am an employee at Trent University Disability Services Office. I would like to gain permission to use a picture that was found on your website. This picture will be used as a link for an online transition course for students registered with our office. The picture I am referring to is the black and blue profile of a man with the brain highlighted.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dana Den Boer

william harryman said...

Hi Dana,

It's not my image to grant permission for. I found it at this site.

Hope that helps.