Comparison of Learning Theories

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Comparison of Learning Theories







Comparison of Learning Theories

Learning Orientation

Summarizing how learning occurs according to this orientation.

Examples of Instructional Strategies used with this Theory

(e.g. Group work/cooperative learning activities – social)

Examples of Evaluation Methods used with this theory

(e.g. Multiple Choice  Quizzes that can be retaken until satisfactory performance has been achieved – behavioral)


According to the behaviorist learning theory, learning occurs through response to the environment. This happens through external environment where the behavior intended is reinforced through methods such as reward and punishment. The focus is the study of the environment in relation to the behavior With this theory, instructions focus on forming the environment in a way to trigger desired response. The role of the instructor in this theory is arranging the environment to draw out desired response. The theory focuses on repetition, discrimination, and generalization. Frequent practicing is considered the best way of learning in behaviorism. Behaviorist orientation is one of the main contributors to syllabuses and curriculums. Therefore, evaluation methods can be in the form of formally structured questions and tests that require one to answer. It can be evaluated through comparing what the individual already knows, and what they are supposed to know since it has set out objectives to achieve.


Cognitive learning theory focuses on the internal mental process of the person. It emphasizes on insight, information, memory, perception and processing. In general, it is concerned with the cognition of a person, which is the process through which people know things and process them in the brain. It regards learning as an internal cognitive process in the brain. With this theory, instructions are well organized and structured. It assumed that well organized things are easily learnt and remembered. The subject matter is to be structured according to logic relationship between the concepts being learnt. Learning is affected by difference between individuals. Displaying of the problem under question is noteworthy since it affects learning This is concerned with development of inner skills of learning that enhance learning. Thus, evaluation can be done through the application of the knowledge. It can also be tested through the formally structured questions or tests.


In the humanistic orientation, the focus is on the growth of human. It is usually the personal urge of fulfilling ones potential. Through the hierarchy of needs suggested by Maslow, learning is seen as a form of actualizing. The instructor in this theory focuses on helping people achieve their full potential through facilitating the development of the person as a whole. It focuses personal involvement. It is initiated by the person himself This theory orientation involves self-evaluation, where an individual evaluates his or her needs and compares them to their achievements. When the achievements satisfy their needs, it means they have been able to learn.


Social / situational learning theory focuses on learning as an interaction within the social context. It suggests that learning occurs in a community of practice in which people participate. It further points out that people can learn through observation of the society as well as other people within a social place. It emphasizes that having to rely on one’s action to learn would be quite tedious. Instructions here are not the same as others since learning relies on observation. Therefore, ways of learning include observing others and learning from interacting with people. An instructor will be seeking to ensure individuals participate fully in communities of practice. Learning is part of the daily living, and experience becomes a main way of learning. Evaluation methods in this theory can involve comparison of an individual with the people they observe or the community in which they participate.


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