Thinking about learning: Concepts, Theories and Paradigms


Thinking about learning: Concepts, Theories and Paradigms

Instructor: Ritesh Khunyakari

Credits: 4
Duration: September to December
Day/Time:  Tues 11.00 am to 1.00 pm;
                    Fri 11.00 am to 1.00 pm

Aim of the course:

The course is designed to orient students to start thinking about learning in more cogent ways. Our ideas of how learning
can be tailored may be derived from some of the lasting impressions from our personal educational experiences. The course
through its various activities will aim to develop an enriched understanding among students about learning, drawing on
theories about learning and situating them in empirical experiences through various engagements. It is hoped that students
will begin to appreciate the several theories that explain the processes of learning and will be able to develop a stance
on learning and the learning processes.

Elements of the course:
The course will include the following components, around which the classroom discourse will be tailored:
Why theorise learning? Brainstorming the potentials of such an exercise.
Understanding learning: meanings (in changing socio-historic contexts) and approaches to learning
Theories that explain learning processes
Functionalistic theories - Thorndike, Skinner, and Hull
Associationistic theories ? Pavlov and Guthrie
Cognitive theories - Gestalt, Piaget, Tolman, and Bandura
Neurophysiological theory (Hebb) and Evolutionary theory (Boles) - optional
Reconstructing a timeline to map the evolving ideas related to learning
Discussing the implications and its viability for various contexts of learning


The classroom discourse:
I intend to have a discourse which begins with an introductory orientation to the notion of learning. The class may then
take students through a process which involves active engagement, readings and reflection, field exercises,
short-experiments, analysing (framed and real-life) situational contexts of learning, presentations and argumentation. The
details of discourse will be decided based on context of learning and mutual conevenience. I plan to have a metastudio
space dedicated to streaming our classroom interactions and making it a collaborative endeavour.

Mode of assessment:
Assessment will be based on the mode of enquiry and nature of interactions online and in situations engaging students in
interactions. Details of weightage and the exact nature of assessment tools will be informed to students crediting the
course well in advance.

Core references (in order of preference):

Hergenhahn, B. R. and Olson, M. H. (2005). An introduction to theories of learning. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India
Private Limited. Seventh Edition.

Relevant theories from Theories Into Practice (TIP) database Source:

A few chapters from the book - Flavell, J. H., Miller, P. H. and Miller, S. A. (2002). Cognitive development. New Jersey:
Pearson Education, Inc.

Course Coordinator: