Comparing Learning Theories

Learning TheoryCriteria
Behaviorismclassifies learning as acquiring new behavior based on environment. 
Constructivismrefers to the study of a learner’s own construction of knowledge. learners process new information and give meaning to it using their own prior attitudes, beliefs, and experiences (Stavredes, 2011). students are active participants in the construction of knowledge while the instructor serves as a facilitator (Hancock, Bray & Nason, 2003).
Cognitivismrefers to the study of the mind (brain) and how it acquires, processes, and saves or stores information. learners are active participants in their learning. cognitive view of learning is teacher-centered, where teachers present information in an organized manner for students to achieve the most efficient learning (Stavredes, 2011). 
Connectivismnot considered a learning theory by some. George Siemens proposed connectivism as a learning theory for the modern age. learning is no longer a personal activity. knowledge is distributed across networks where connections and connectedness are the basis of learning. heavily grounded in technology, connectivism is a learning theory based on the acquisition of the knowledge needed for the future, not the past (Siemens, 2004).


Hancock, Dawson & Bray, Marty & Nason, Scott. (2003). Influencing University Students’ Achievement and Motivation in a Technology Course. Journal of Educational Research – J EDUC RES. 95. 365-372. 10.1080/00220670209596611.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age [html]. Retrieved from

Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: foundations and strategies for student success. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.