Learning Theories, A to Z

Learning Theories, A to Z

Learning Theories, A to Z

Learning Theories, A to Z


Swift changes in educational technology are transforming the landscape of our society and how we transfer knowledge in a digital world. Learning theories are a crucial element of education studies for anyone involved with students from pre-school to higher education and business training. From academic rationalism to zone of proximal development, this useful new resource provides reference information on learning theories relating to K-2 education, higher education, and industry education and training environments. Each of the 532 theories detailed are categorized by whether it is an example of cognitivism, constructivism, behaviorism, or humanism. Entries are cross-referenced, and an annotated bibliography covers related seminal publications.


The purpose of this book is to provide reference information on learning theories about K–12 education, higher education, and industry education and training environments. The book defines over 500 terms related to learning theories and environments. My intent is that it will be helpful for anyone studying learning theories or applying learning theories to their current educational environment.

Each term is placed in the following categories: cognitivism, constructivism, behaviorism, and humanism. Of course, a single term may embody characteristics of more than one category. Nevertheless, it is placed within the context of the most predominant category to which it belongs. Within definitions, words in italics are those defined elsewhere in the work. The assumption is that you will follow the various cross-references and paths to obtain a better knowledge of the context for each term.

Also noted are learning theories and environments that are currently specific to industry education and training. These are categorized as organizational learning—even though they contain elements of theories from the four main categories noted above.

Though not strictly learning theories, also defined are terms related to educational technology environments. Examples are electronic campus, virtual communities, and videoconferencing. Without getting into the “bits” and “bytes” of educational technology, these terms are defined within the context of our main categories because they are changing the landscape of how educators educate.

One of the most important aspects of learning theorists’ work currently is “catching up” with the swift changes in educational technology that are transforming the landscape of our society and of how we transfer knowledge in a digital world. It is one thing to have new educational software, technologies, and networks available to educators and trainers. It is another thing entirely—something that has not as yet been fully accomplished—to provide learning theories and methods that take complete advantage of the swift advances in educational technology. It is my intent that this reference work will help educators and trainers better understand past and current learning theories, so that they can apply them to new theories that will likely arise in response to the new digital age we are entering.

New knowledge is built upon past and current thinking.

In addition to the definitions, this book also provides (1) at the front of the book, a list of all terms defined; (2) at the end of the book, an appendix, “Paths through the A-to-Z Content,” which groups the terms under each of the six main categories with which the term is predominantly identified; and (3) a selected annotated bibliography of books and articles (print and electronic) relevant to

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