Course Description

In this course we will look at several different theoretical perspectives on learning, cognition, and cognitive development. As we'll see, no single theory can account for all aspects of human learning. By looking at a variety of theories, we can identify a range of tools that may be useful in understanding learning and teaching in a variety of settings.

Course Goals

Our primary goals will be:

1. To become conversant with the basic assumptions, concepts, and principles of each theory

2. To determine the possible implications of each theory for instructional settings

3. To be able to compare and contrast theories and their usefulness in the various settings of interest to you and other education professionals

4. To create and revise our own theories of learning

Course Resources

Required Text: A textbook is required for this section. The textbook is:

Driscoll, M. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction, 2nd Edition. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Optional Text: Also there is a second optional text for the course:

Gredler, M. E. (2001). Learning and Instruction: Theory into Practice, 4th Edition.

You may want to consider obtaining this text, particularly if you have no prior experience with studying learning theories. It can be helpful to have a second "view" of the theories, and Gredler's book has chapters that correspond to most of the theories we will cover in the course. On each Unit page, I will designate the appropriate optional readings from Gredler.

Additional articles are required reading for each unit and are listed on each unit's assignment page under "additional readings". All but one of these articles can be obtained as a full-text article through EBSCO (see instructions on individual unit pages).

Course Assignments and Expectations

Students are expected to have read and prepared for discussion before coming to class. Each class period will consist of some lecture, discussion, activity, and application. Most of my course lectures are available on this web site for reference at any time. Any additional information will be made available as we go along or handed out in class.

There are 3 different kinds of required products in this course.

Thought Papers: At the end of units 2-5, a topic for a short thought paper (3-5 pages) will be presented. You will choose to complete any 3 of the 4 unit thought paper assignments. One or two of these projects will be completed with a group. You will choose which units you are available to work as a member of a group during the first week of class. Unit 6's thought paper is required. A short presentation on your unit 6 project will be required during the weeks 11/18-11/25. Each unit product will require a short reflection. A unit product is not considered complete or on-time until the reflection is attached. It doesn't take long - just don't forget to do it. If you are taking your "unit off" just send me a short e-mail on or near the due date, so I can mark it in the grade book.

Personal Learning Theory: At the beginning of the course, you will turn in a draft of a personal learning theory. You will post your theory in the appropriate forum on oncourse. You should also read and respond to some of your classmates' theories and try to see what's common across the way many of you think about learning theories initially. At the end of the course, after reading/discussing each of the learning theories, you will submit a revised draft of your personal learning theory.

Final Project: More details will be forthcoming. This final writing product will be based on an in-class activity and will require the application of all the learning theories previously covered.

Course Grading

Each Unit thought paper will count equally toward your final grade. The personal theory of learning draft and final product will count together as one product. Each product will be 1/8 of your grade (except unit 6, which will count slightly higher). Peer evaluations constitute 15% of your grade for each unit in which you work as a group. Course participation will be weighted twice. See the assignments page for details.

A grade of "A" will be given to work which shows extraordinary high achievement, unusually complete command of the subject matter, represents an exceptionally high degree of originality, creativity, and synthesis/application .

A grade of "B" will be given to work which is very good, solid, above average quality. Good synthesis/application are expected.

A grade of "C" will be given to work of satisfactory quality with an average level of synthesis/application.

Course Policies

Turning in Work: Due dates for assignments are listed in the assignments page. Due dates are Sundays at midnight Bloomington time. I will likely not be available to answer questions late Sunday. As such, if you have problems, you are welcome to send me an e-mail and then turn in your work Monday by midnight after we have gotten a chance to correspond or see me in class Monday. Technical glitches also arise from time to time. Although the official end of each unit is Sunday at midnight, any work received by Monday at midnight will not be considered late.

The easiest way to turn in papers is to send them to me as an attachment using your Oncourse mail account. If you do this, I will be able to read and grade on-line. You will be able to see your grades automatically when I have completed grading by going to "My grade report" under "Tools" in Oncourse.

As an alternative, particularly if Oncourse is experiencing problems, you should e-mail me ( with your document as an attachment, preferably in WORD, although I can open other kinds of attachments.

Late Policy:

Late papers will lose 10% every two days.

A grade of "I" will be given for medical emergencies or extreme unforseen emergencies only.

All other policies and regulations (e.g., regarding "academic honesty and plagiarism" including that of on-line sources) as stated in the Graduate Bulletin apply in this course. If you are unfamiliar with these policies and regulations, then you are required to make yourself familiar with them immediately.

E-mail Response Policy: I can be contacted via email at I will try to respond to email within 48 hours of receiving it. I may even be able to answer questions more promptly. However, please don't assume I am on email 24 hours a day 7 days a week.




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