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Learning Theories


How We Learn

Many researchers have developed models about learning.  Shirley Alexander considers the following five categories in her article, "Teaching and Learning on the World Wide Web:"

  • learning as a quantitative increase in knowledge
  • learning as memorizing and storing information that can be reproduced
  • learning as acquiring facts, skills or methods
  • learning as abstracting meaning or relating parts of the subject matter to each other and to the real world
  • learning as interpreting or understanding reality in a different way

The Orientation, Coaching, Tuning and Routinization Model

Another model of learning stages proposed by Chan, Lin, Lin and Kuo (1993) is called the OCTR Model.

OCTR suggests four stages in human learning:

  • orientation (relating prior knowledge)
  • coaching (apprenticeship learning)
  • tuning and routinization (practice with gradually more student autonomy).

This model emphasises the constructivist view and also assumes knowledge consists of units and links. The distinction is made between strong and weak links. The four stages in learning involve the creation of weak and strong links between "proper old knowledge" and new material. The stages in the learning model are qualitatively explained in cognitive terms through processes of:

  • connection (weak links are created between old knowledge and new knowledge)
  • accretion (knowledge is expanded with many new weak links created)
  • articulation (links are strengthened while some are deleted)
  • solidification (units and links are strengthened)



An excellent discussion of Learning Theory can be found in the paper 'Learning Concepts'.

Chan T, Lin C, Lin S and Kuo H (1993) OCTR: A model of learning stages. In Brna P, Ohlsson S and Pain H (eds) Proceedings of AI-ED 93 . Scotland, August 1993. ACCE publication.


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