Although there are many different approaches to learning, there are three basic types of learning theory: behaviorist, cognitive constructivist, and social constructivist. This section provides a brief introduction to each type of learning theory. The theories are treated in four parts: a short historical introduction, a discussion of the view of knowledge presupposed by the theory, an account of how the theory treats learning and student motivation, and finally, an overview of some of the instructional methods promoted by the theory is presented.

Behaviorism Cognitive Constructivism Social Constructivism
View of knowledge Knowledge is a repertoire of behavioral responses to environmental stimuli. Knowledge systems of cognitive structures are actively constructed by learners based on pre-existing cognitive structures. Knowledge is constructed within social contexts through interactions with a knowledge community.
View of learning Passive absorption of a predefined body of knowledge by the learner. Promoted by repetition and positive reinforcement. Active assimilation and accommodation of new information to existing cognitive structures. Discovery by learners. Integration of students into a knowledge community. Collaborative assimilation and accommodation of new information.
View of motivation Extrinsic, involving positive and negative reinforcement. Intrinsic; learners set their own goals and motivate themselves to learn. Intrinsic and extrinsic. Learning goals and motives are determined both by learners and extrinsic rewards provided by the knowledge community.
Implications for Teaching Correct behavioral responses are transmitted by the teacher and absorbed by the students. The teacher facilitates learning by providing an environment that promotes discovery and assimilation/accommodation. Collaborative learning is facilitated and guided by the teacher. Group work.