WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor (Emeritus), Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto


Teaching & Learning
This page consists of a collection of links to websites that deal with research relating to learning. In planning instruction and assessment & evaluation, educators need to consider the nature of student learning. If you have comments, suggestions, ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them.
General Learning Theory.
Freudian Theory.
Piagetian Theory.
Maslow's Needs Hierarchy.
Multiple Intelligences.
Situated Cognition.
Sociocultural Theories.
Critical Theory.

General Learning Theory
The sites linked at right all provide perspectives and resources relating to various learning theories and principles. Many also provide relevant teaching resources. Links to many more teaching resources are provided @ Teaching.

(Go to top)

An early theory about learning that is in some use today is behaviourism. It is based on relatively subconscious responses to stimuli. The work of Skinner, Pavlov and others were influential. Many educators have serious concerns about behaviourism.
(Go to top)

Freudian Theory of Mind
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his studies of sexual desire, repression, and the unconscious mind. Much of his work on the functioning of the human mind applies to learning.
  • Freud: A, B, C, D, E.
  • Freud: Learning: A, B, C, D.
  • Freud: Unconscious Mind: A, B, C, D.
  • Freud: Adolescence: A, B, C.
(Go to top)

Piagetian Stage Theory
In Piaget's cognitive development theory, it is thought that people naturally pass through a series of well-defined stages from infancy through adulthood. Piaget's work has been very influential in education, particularly with respect to the extent to which the ability to abstract from experience and, especially, to abstract without direct experience.
(Go to top)

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Although the domains below are more commonly considered, an extremely important category of 'learning' (or, more correctly, development) has to do with individual needs. Too often, formal education is conceived in terms of what groups of students need, as opposed to what may be helpful to each individual. Generally, before any of the other domains can be addressed by teachers, individuals' needs must be met. Usually, students' motivation to learn depends on attention to these needs.
(Go to top)

Multiple Intelligences Theory
Research into human brain structure & function suggests that each of us possesses unique sets of cognitive strengths - or, "intelligences." With this in mind, many educators have developed pedagogical perspectives, frameworks and practices that provide for such differences.
(Go to top)

Situated Cognition
Teaching & learning are dependent upon myriad variables affecting particular teaching & learning situations - "contexts." Those holding this view abhor excessive pre-specification of outcomes and teaching approaches.
(Go to top)

A domain of learning that many believe is a major contributor to (and indicator of) successful learning is metacognition; i.e., thinking about your thinking. There are various levels of this, including metacognitive awareness and control (self-regulation).
(Go to top)

Socio-cultural Theories
Many teaching and learning principles, such as Piagetian stage theory, tend to focus on the individual. Such 'internalist' theories have a relatively long history. More recently, 'externalist' theories have been developed. These consider factors external to the individual, such as the dominate society in which people live. This is a broad category and includes some topics already grouped on this page, such as Critical Theory.
(Go to top)

Critical Theory
One could take the view that knowledge, once developed and tested by professionals is beyond repproach. In schools, students would simply be expected to learn and accept that knowledge and not question its sources, rationale for existence, effects of it on those who accept that knowledge or, crucially, benefits to those who may develop and/or promote that knowledge. The opposite view of knowledge, a critical stance, is that all knowledge may serve someone's interests and, accordingly, users are advised to be critical of all knowledge claims.

(Go to top)