1 Why theory might be useful
Drawing on theory opens the possibility of building on ideas that have been developed over many years. They can give you a wider perspective on anything that you are studying, even learning itself, and help you develop your own ideas. The work of Peter Jarvis that you looked at in Week 1 is an example of this.
Often, academic writers like Jarvis try to develop frameworks. These frameworks are tools to help us organise or structure information and ideas so that we are able to make more sense of them. You’ll come across examples of them this week. Look out for the terms that are presented in bold type – these are key words.
As you might guess, there are many, many theories in existence. You might have heard, for example, of Darwin’s theory of evolution or Einstein’s theory of relativity. In Succeed with learning, not surprisingly, we are focusing on theories about learning.
It is important to keep an open mind as you study these theories, because connections with your own learning experiences may not immediately be obvious, but instead may emerge over time.
But, it is nevertheless important to be critical of any theory you come across. The academic world is based on people challenging and questioning beliefs and theories, and suggesting alternatives – and you can start to do the same. One way to do this is to bring your knowledge and experience of the everyday world to bear. This enables you to see if it fits in with how you see the world and to consider what ‘real-world’ implications a theory might have.