Learning Definitions


Learning is:

  • Ramsden/1988: a qualitative change in a person’s way of seeing, experiencing, understanding, conceptualizing sth in the real world
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: a relatively permanent change in a behavioral potentiality that occurs as a result of reinforced practice
  • Ausubel/1975: the strengthening of relevant aspects of cognitive structure
  • Marton/ 1975: the grasping of what is signified by the sign
  • Barnett/1992: a human process which has an effect on those undertaking it/ has been understood in the context of the ‘value background’ of its time
  • Dewey/1916: likely to follow investigation of a situation with personal significance rather than an aloof thing, imposed from external requirements
  • Saljo/19825 categories of learning
    • a quantitative increase in knowledge
    • memorizing
    • acquisition of facts, methods which can be retained and used when necessary
    • the abstraction of meaning
    • an interpretation process aimed at understanding reality
    • developing as a person


  • Bateson/1973: three levels in learning: Level I_facts and skills are defined by context (Freire’s banking), Level II_the learner is outside a confining frame enabling comparisons and connections (learning by doing, theory related to practice), Level III_discovering the ability to doubt the validity of previously held perceptions, the learning being about learning itself (reflective)
  • Bloom/1956, 1964: Three domains of learning: Cognitive (knowing), Conative (doing) and Affective (feeling)
  • Argyris-Schon, 1974: Single (instrumental) and Double loop Learning (challenges previous assumptions)
  • Salmon/1989: it is a socially constructed event lived out in a social and political context, which may not always be conducive to bursts of productive energy and emotion
  • Rogers/1983: self-initiated, significant, experiential, gut-level learning by the whole person, a process described as person-centered



Brockbank, A., McGill, I., 1998. Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press

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