What is Learning?  

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values or paradigms. It is also the modification of existing knowledge, behavior, skills, values and paradigms. It may involve synthesizing different types of information.

  • Learning is said to effect relatively stable changes in behavior.
  • It is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know.
  • It is not something we do to learners, but rather, something they must do.

We learn through rehearsal and repetiion, through self-explanation and elaboration, through associating new information with old, through wrestling with the implications of a thing, and through experience. We learn through actively participating in the process: through producing solutions and receiving feedback on our solutions, through arguing and debating with peers, through experimenting and failiing and then succeeding.

Dewey (1938) said that we learn through experience, and that the experiences that resonate most will be recalled longest.  Ah, but it is not just the experience that teaches us, as many of us can attest...    It is the targeted feedback that we receive, and it is how our reflections about the experience and feedback then help strengthen future performance.   

You can think of what you do as a teacher as creating experiences that encourage learners to engage and do the things they need to do to learn. In that sense, you are experience designers.   

Learning is ultimate, instruction is penultimate. Learning—demonstrated through excellent practice-- is the highest, best, and final goal of what we do. Instruction is only valuable as it serves that end.


Seven Research-Based Principles for Learning

From Carnegie Mellon's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

  • Students' prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
  • How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.
  • Students' motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn.
  • To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned.
  • Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students' learning. 
  • Students' current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.
  • To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning.


‌Another Great Resource:

The New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education...   http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2014-nmc-horizon-report-he-EN.pdf  

 Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education (First Touchstone Edition 1997 ed.). New York, NY: Touchstone.