Learning Theories Of Instructional Design

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Learning theories are the foundation of any instructional design solution that helps in achieving desired learning outcome. These learning theories play an important role in providing you different perspectives on one problem. In other words, these learning theories provide a strong foundation and framework to every instructional design project.

These learning theories help instructional designers understand their audience. On the basis of their audience type, you can tweak your approach while designing a course. This will ensure that the learner is benefited the most by ensuring that the learner retains and recalls the information easily and stay motivated and engaged throughout the learning duration. These theories have evolved with time. Listed below are some of the most usable learning theories:


This learning method infers that the learning occurs through interaction with the environment. The method of observing and measuring the behavior by stimulating action in a particular environment or situation repeatedly until it becomes a habit. It does not activate or involves the actions that involve thought processes. Thus it is best used in designing the instructions where only skills are to be developed through practice and repetition. How to behave in a particular situation/circumstance is what it encircles.

This learning theory is beneficial when you intend to plan quantifiable and noticeable learning intended to condition the behavior in a specific way in the given work environment. The achievements thus gained can be rewarded with materials or provide feedback (punishment) to improve, termed as operant conditioning.

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Unlike behaviorism, cognitivism learning theory centers around the reason for particular conduct invoking the manner of thinking. Gaining knowledge and comprehending the information by remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating specifies the mental processes to rely upon for various types of learnings.

This process brought a shift in the method of learning where the focus is primarily on designing the instructions to solve the problems instead of the learner’s behavior. The learning can be invoked by relating it with the previously learned concept that makes it easy for the learner to relate and imbibe the new learnings. The learnings are then assessed keeping the learning objective intact. This helps in reinforcing the new concepts making them retain for long while invoking critical thinking, data preparing, and idea development.


As mentioned earlier, the learning theories evolved with time from behaviorism to cognitivism and then constructivism. This theory combines learner’s interaction with the environment and their internal learning process. The concept encircles learning from external resources and combining it with the observations gained from personal experiences. The learner primarily controls their learnings with reasoning. As every learner has a different perspective of looking at a given situation and learning pace, it becomes important to make the information readily available in multiple ways (different mediums) that become the reference point to utilize the available information based on individual objectives and goals.

Connecting socially and learning through social interaction is also the part of this theory that is termed social constructivism. Mugging up new work-related terms is always difficult and confusing. However, connecting and interacting with the people from the same work fraternity helps to learn them easily through interactions and general usage in day-to-day life. Progressively, it leads to an exchange of ideas and the newly developed skill becomes the habit.

Conclusion: Based on the objectives and comparing the learning theories with learning content, you can opt for the most appropriate learning theory to design your next course on the leading learning management software from Cloud Academy. To sum it up, the behavioral approach is best where the students have to only master the content whereas, the constructive approach is more appropriate where the learner has to deal with real-life scenarios that involve critical and analytical thinking.