MERLOT Pedagogy Portal Visit Main MERLOT

Learning Sciences and Theory

There are many theories of learning that have been developed.  An understanding of some of these will help the instructor to plan classes.  The sites below provide background information on learning theory and also discuss suggestions for applying learning theory in the classroom.  You can add your comments and recommendations concerning these materials by simply clicking on the “Write a comment” link that is on the right side of the webpage containing a full description of the material.

For all resources on Learning Sciences and Theory click here.




Theory and Research-based Principles of Learning

The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University

This site provides a list that presents the 8 basic principles that underlie effective learning, distilled from research from a variety of disciplines.  It is very concise and easy to understand.

Theories of Learning

Teaching Guide for Graduate Instructors at University of California-Berkeley

This site discusses the three major learning theories: behaviorist, cognitive constructivist and social constructivist.  The theories are treated in four basic parts: after a short historical introduction, a discussion of the view of knowledge presupposed by the theory follows. Next, there is an account of how the theory treats learning and student motivation. Finally, an overview of some of the instructional methods promoted by the theory is presented.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School

National Academy of Sciences

This is a complete online copy of this well-respected book that summarizes current cognitive learning theory and its implications for education today and in the future

Learning Theory

infed (the informal education homepage)

This site discusses learning as product and process and surveys some common models of how people learn: behaviorist, cognitivist, humanist, social and situational.

Explorations in Learning & Instruction:
The Theory Into Practice Database

Theory Into Practice database

TIP is a tool intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to educators. This database contains brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction. These theories can also be accessed by learning domains and concepts.