Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

Student Learning and Learning Theories

Lecturers are generally primarily interested in what we want our students to learn, how students learn and what students actually accomplish. A substantial body of evidence on learning theories and models, learning styles, student understanding and approaches to study has influenced the way in which we understand these processes, but there is still no easy way to translate this knowledge into practical implications for teaching.

Recommended Reading

  1. McMaster University Centre for Leadership in Learning (CLL) inquiry resources
    McMaster University has been involved in teaching Inquiry - a largely question driven form of self-directed learning - for over twenty years in elite programs and professional schools.

  2. Problem-based learning, especially in the context of large classes
    Problem-based learning (PBL) is any learning environment in which the problem drives the learning. That is, before students 'learn' some knowledge they are given a problem. This site, from McMaster University, contains several PBL-related resources.

  3. Major categories in the taxonomy of educational objectives (Bloom, 1956)
    The work of Bloom and his colleagues has had a major influence on how we think and what we do in education. This site provides categories in the cognitive domain with outcome-illustrating verbs and links to other internet resources on Bloom's work.

  4. Beyond Bloom (A new version of the cognitive taxonomy)
    This taxonomy, by Anderson and Krathwohl, is a more recent adaptation and has redefined the original work of Bloom and his colleagues.

  5. Learning and teaching resources and support
    The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD) provides a compendium of resources to support student learning. From this site you can follow links to resources on:

    • Learning
    • Teaching
    • Course design
    • Assessment
    • Links to podcasts
  6. Theories of learning
    The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCSLD) website includes consideration of numerous theories of learning.

Other Useful Documents and Sites

  1. Enhancing deep learning
    Lessons from the introduction of learning teams in a graduate degree program. This paper, by Borredon, Deffayet, Baker and Kolb, discusses issues surrounding deep learning and teams.

  2. Students' learning styles vs. professors' teaching styles
    What happens when students' learning styles do not match professors' teaching styles? Being able to answer this question is what differentiates this model from all the others. Dick Wirz provides an interpretation of Felder and Soloman's Index of learning styles.

  3. Resources for tutors delivering students workshops
    This series of resources captures the embodied expertise developed by LearnHigher partners during the four years of the CETL. Each resource provides immediate, engaging and research-informed guidance on teaching a specific aspect.

  4. Finding, making and using images and videos materials
    A resource base for finding, making and using images and video materials, developed by the LearnHigher CETL.