What is learning

Learning is a complex process, but what is learning exactly? Consider the following definitions and the implications each has for teaching:

  • Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge or skill through study, experience, or teaching.
  • Learning is experience that brings about a relatively permanent change in behavior.
  • Learning is a change in neural function as a consequence of experience.
  • Learning is the cognitive process of acquiring skill or knowledge.
  • Learning is an increase in the amount of response rules and concepts in the memory of an intelligent system.

Regardless of which theory of learning is being applied, it is essential that teachers enable an open and flexible approach to their practice. Each learner has individual needs and slightly different ways of learning. This individuality suggests that for there to be an effective use of theories of learning, they should be used simultaneously, drawing on the benefits and overcoming the limitations of each.

  Think about your own learning:

  • When do you find learning easy?
  • When do you find learning difficult?
  • What strategies do you use when you learn?

In order to support learners in learning and developing knowledge, a teacher needs to plan strategies and respond to learners effectively through taking into account the diversity in the classroom and the learning needs of individuals. To do this effectively, it is helpful to understand some of the main theories about learning and how these might manifest themselves in the classroom. It is in this regard, we will take critical analysis of the following four key theories of learning:

For each theory, we will give a brief description of the theory before moving on to discuss the implication the theory has in the classroom.


  1.1 Definitions, types and processes of learning & cognition                                      Behaviourism              

Last modified: Monday, 2 March 2020, 2:01 PM