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Explain learning theories

“What is a learning theory?”

“What learning theories are most commonly used?”

If you’ve designed any type of learning experience, you’ve probably asked yourself, "What is the best way for learners to learn this information?" or "What approach will best help them master this skill?" When you were thinking this way, you were essentially considering various learning theories (even if you weren't aware of it at the time).

Explaining and applying learning theory to learning projects is one of the top skills hiring managers are seeking. Learning designer should be able to explain them and reference them when justifying their designs.

After this lesson, you should be able to describe commonly referenced learning theories in learning design as preparation for their application.

What is a learning theory?

A learning theory is a research-backed idea for how people learn best, and there are many of them! Studying learning theories can help prepare you to craft effective learning experiences that boost organizational and learner performance.

By becoming familiar with learning theories, you’ll be better able to justify your instructional design decisions with stakeholders and clients. Consider the conversation below between a designer and a stakeholder, and note the approach this designer took when justifying her design decisions.

What learning theories are commonly used?

The theories learning designers subscribe to most often depends on the learning goals and objectives they write for their experiences. For instance, learning designers in higher education may reference constructivism often, which asserts learners construct new understandings through experience, integrating new information with prior knowledge. Learning designers in a corporate setting may reference experiential learning theory most, which is essentially "learning by doing."

Scroll through the carousel to learn about the most commonly referenced learning theories in the industry.

Summary and next steps

Learning theory is the science of how people learn, and it forms the foundation for how to design instruction. Therefore, learning designers must understand learning theory to create and choose instructional strategies and justify design decisions.

Now that you are familiar with learning theory, continue to the next lesson in LXD Factory’s Learn the basics series: Discuss assessment considerations.


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