Learning Theories & Frameworks

Our actions as teachers are influenced by our theoretical views of learning.  From this site you can access some of the key theorists in learning some of the key theories and some of the key learning frameworks.

Learning Frameworks

There are many learning frameworks that can guide our actions in the classroom. Following the links provided to some of the more well known or influential ones including Bloom’s Taxonomy that has been used in classrooms for over forty years, and Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Websites / Portals

Learning Concepts, Approaches and Preferences

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom

Concept Mapping

Deep and Surface Learning

Ference Marton, Roger Säljö

Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman

Cooperative learning

Roger T. Johnson, David W. Johnson,Spencer Kagan, Robert E. Slavin

Inquiry learning

Kath Murdoch

Lateral thinking

Edward De Bono

  • Edward De Bono (homepage)
  • De Bono, E. (2004). De Bono’s thinking course. London: BBC Books.
  • De Bono, E. (1990). Lateral thinking: Creativity step by step. New York: Harper & Row.

Learning Styles and Preferences

Metacognition: Thinking about thinking

Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Situated Learning / Communities of Practice

Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger

  • Communities of practice: a brief introduction (Etienne Wenger)
  • Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge University Press.

Learning Theories & Theorists

Theory underpins all that we do in the classroom! There are many theories that offer to explain ‘learning’ and some are more influential than others. From this site you can access some of the common theories and theorists that underpin current practice in schools or have had a strong influence in the past.

General Websites and Portals

Learning theories and theorists

Activity Theory

Lev Vygotsky (based on)


Stimulus Response (S-R) theorists :

Clark L. Hull, B. F. Skinner, Edward L. Thorndike

Behaviouristic theorists :

James B. Watson

Associationism theorists :

Ivan P. Pavlov, Edwin R. Guthrie

Brain Theory

Classical Conditioning (see behaviourism)


Cognitive Learning Theory

Jerome Bruner (also Constructivism)

  • Jerome Bruner A Web Overview
  • Bruner, J. (1996). The Culture of Education, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Bruner, J. (1977). The Process of Education, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Bruner, J. (1991). Acts of Meaning, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Bruner, J, (1987). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Bruner, J. S., Goodnow, J.&Austin, G. (1965/1986). A study of thinking. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books

Cognitive Development Theory

Jean Piaget

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

L. Festinger

  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Festinger, L (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Evanston, Ill; Row Peterson.

Conditions of Learning

Robert Gagne


Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget

Constructivism - Social

Lev Vygotsky

Dual-Coding Theory

Allan Paivio

Experiential Learning Theory

David Kolb, Carl Rogers, John Dewey

Gestalt Theory

Max Wertheimer (1880-1943)

Holistic Learning Theory

Ron Miller

Information Processing Theory

George A. Miller

Instrumentalism (also pragmatism)

John Dewey (also Experiential Learning)

Operant Conditioning (see also Behaviourism)

B. F. Skinner

Paulo Freire's Educational Theory

Paulo Freire

  • Paulo Freire's Educational Theory
  • Freire, P. (1987). Pedagogy of the Oppressed, (Trans. M. B. Ramos). New York, NY: The Continuum Publishing Corporation,
  • Freire, P. (1985). The Politics of Education: Culture, Power, and Liberation, (Trans D. Macedo) London: Macmillan.

Schema theory of learning

Richard C. Anderson

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) / Scaffolding

Lev. S. Vygotsky (1896-1934)