4 Research-Based Strategies For Content That Is Learner-Centric

With a rudimentary understanding of the four major schools of learning thought, you can distinguish and direct your team on fresh approaches to conceive, plan, and deliver learning that fits the requirements of your learners at the appropriate moment.

Add Credibility Based On Research To Learning Content

Learning has advanced significantly over the last two years with the pandemic’s effects. It is anticipated that this trend will continue as Generation Alpha, comprised of those born in 2010 and after, develops into the next generation of talent and leaders. To be able to traverse the volume, pace, and complexity of change as a learning and development leader, you and your team must monitor and comprehend the changing demands of learners, research and use technology, and ultimately make smart business choices about how to address these learning needs with limited resources.

It is crucial to understand the basic core learning theories from a Learning & Development viewpoint and to guarantee that the new learning tools and technologies your team is developing are grounded in research. Even though there are over thirty research-based learning theories and models, there are four fundamental schools of thought that you should be familiar with: behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism. Beth Oyarzun and Sheri Conklin define behaviorism and cognitivism as instructor-centered in their book “Design for Learning,” but constructivism and connectivism are described as student-centered. This page provides the essential information for each hypothesis.

4 Theories of Content That Is Learner-Centric


This school of thinking emerged in the early 20th century and maintains that learning is the product of external stimuli originating mostly from the instructor’s positive reinforcement and repetition. One of the most influential behaviorists, B.F. Skinner believed that external inputs would determine future behavior. The US military attempted his famous operant conditioning experiment with pigeons put in a Skinner box to teach pigeons to direct missiles.

Another well-known behaviorist is Ivan Pavlov, whose experiment taught dogs to salivate whenever a bell rang by providing food each time the bell rang. Today, behaviorism is used by emphasizing the tasks a learner must accomplish to get the learning result. Behaviorism has been criticized for being insufficient since it focuses only on external stimuli and disregards the student’s requirements, talents, and drive.


This school of thinking focuses on the learner’s brain and how it processes, retains, and recalls information throughout the learning process. Also, instructor-centered cognitivism focuses on the instructor’s influence on the learning process. Bloom is a well-known cognitivist whose 1956 taxonomy of six stages focuses on how learners recall, interpret, apply, analyze, evaluate, and construct meaning. In 2001, Anderson and Kathwohl changed the taxonomy to emphasize how students remember, comprehend, apply, analyze, evaluate, and generate meaning.

Each level is connected with several verbs, and instructional designers utilize the taxonomy to develop the learning goals and evaluations for the module they are building. Cognitivism has been attacked for its emphasis on models and learning schemas at the expense of the learner’s autonomy.


This school of thinking claims that learning stems from how learners see the world’s construction and is learner-centered. Piaget, a well-known constructivist, proposed that learning occurs when the learner goes through four successive phases: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational.

His methodology has been applied to the learning and development of children from infancy to maturity. In addition, another prominent constructivist, Vygotsky, stated that learning occurs when the learner interacts with tools, language, and organizational structures. Today, we use constructivist techniques to scaffold learning and develop shadowing and mentoring programs in which learners interact with the module, have chances to observe their mentor and benefit from a tailored coaching and mentoring experience.


In 2004, Siemens introduced connectivism as the school of thinking in which learning is learner-centered and learner-driven through new technologies, networks, and dynamic change. Learning arises from a variety of viewpoints; learning is about connecting with experiences, technology, and other people; the capacity to learn is essential; nurturing and cultivating connections is necessary for continuous learning; the ability to connect the dots is fundamental to learning, and making choices is a means to learn. Siemens and Downes condensed these eight main connectivity characteristics in 2011.

Connectivism has been hailed as the learning theory of the digital age because it acknowledges the power of technology as an enabler in learning, whereby learners can quickly search for an instructional YouTube video, connect with others through a community of learning, chat live, and find solutions to their common workplace problems. Connectivism emphasizes and integrates components of the preceding three learning theories to create an environment for learning.


Now that you have examined the fundamental aspects of each of the four main learning theories, you likely notice numerous elements that you and your team utilize to build and deliver effective learning experiences based on learners’ requirements, desires, and preferences. Defining a list of tasks for the learner to complete is behaviorist; using verbs from Bloom’s updated taxonomy to write learning objectives is cognitivist; scaffolding a course and supplementing it with a mentoring program is constructivist, and incorporating social media to connect learners with their peers to exchange ideas and discover a new resolution to old problems is connectivity.

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