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Learning theories, concepts and methods

The major concepts and theories of learning include behaviourist theories, cognitive psychology, constructivism, social constructivism, experiential learning, multiple intelligence, and situated learning theory and community of practice.

If we define learning as broadly as we have, then another important feature of learning immediately becomes apparent: Most of what a person learns, he learns without a teacher and outside of organised learning institutions such as schools.

Learning is obviously not bound to the presence of someone who teaches, nor is it bound to situations that are explicitly set up for learning. In learning research, this has led to the conceptual distinction between formal and informal or non-formal learning.


Characteristics of Formal and Informal Learning

Formal Learning

  1. Organised and structured
  2. Learning venues in education centres, schools
  3. Imparting curricularly prescribed learning content designed to achieve a result
  4. Imparting theoretical knowledge as mostly reduced scientific knowledge
  5. Pedagogical-professional accompaniment of learning processes
  6. Only limited imparting of social and personal competence

Informal Learning

  1. Unsystematic, random
  2. Learning in working and living environments
  3. Incidental learning, learning outcome is not consciously pursued
  4. Acquisition of experiential knowledge through reflection on what is experienced in action
  5. Moderation of reflection processes as appropriate
  6. Simultaneous acquisition of technical, social and personal competence
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