Learning Theories and Instructional Design


I am finishing a class on learning theories and instructional design. These are the questions our professor asked us about learning theories, and how they have changed over the course:

  • Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

I have realized that I learn best in the format of developing a question, researching peer-reviewed journals for more information, supplementing this via videos (I love TED Talks), blogs, wikis, and discussions with peers, and then applying my learning into something, like a blog or creating a game. I am careful to find accurate information. I also read nonfiction and fiction; one may be surprised to find how much immediate future technology is predicted in science fiction stories, and how much learning about a subject such as astrophysics causes me to have new ideas about teaching and learning. I piece together information from many sources and multiple areas or domains, and find what I can use in my daily life. I often make intuitive leaps that would have been impossible without my “other” reading.

I now see what I do as inquiry-based learning. I have a problem, and I seek knowledgeable people to help me solve it.  I use, and teach my students, learning “hacks” such as highlighting notes in different colors, making it easier to recall the information for tests by recalling the color of the note in question. I sincerely wish I had learned inquiry-based learning, multiple learning styles, and learning “hacks” in grade school, let alone middle school and high school. It made going to college a bit of a shock. The only exception to this was that my high school English  teacher gave us a syllabus. I was able to work ahead in her class, and therefore was able to follow along in class much better–a must for me when learning Shakespeare. When I arrived at college, I was able to read and understand a syllabus right away, when my classmates were wondering what they were looking at.

I also wish that math, science, and English were not taught as discrete subjects in Western education; I meld them together in my daily life with my inquiry-based learning. I teach some science and geography when I teach English as a foreign language in South Korea.

Laptop Computer

What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) best explains my learning method; (Vygotsky, 1978, as cited in Lim, 2004). The ZPD involves problem-solving of the learner occurring with guidance from teachers and peers. I seek knowledge from those more expert than I, then seek to use this knowledge in some useful way. This is true professionally, socially, and in other areas as well. I live in a foreign country (South Korea); I rely on Korean “experts” to direct me in how to obtain an apartment, apply for or renew a visa, shop online, and the like. The other professors where I work are always telling me about new cell phone apps like online student data tracking and quiz programs they use to make teaching easier.

In addition, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 2003) explains why I often need video, audio, and reading to fully understand a topic, and why I seek out information from multiple sources. According to Gardner (2003), people learn in all 8 ways. They are:

  • word smart–written word intelligence–primarily focused on in school
  • logic smart–math, science, programming intelligence–focused on in school, STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)
  • picture intelligence–thinking in pictures
  • body smart–kinesthetic or moving intelligence
  • music smart–nonverbal sounds
  • nature smart–zoologist, naturist
  • people smart–intelligence of the community or organization
  • self smart–who we are, goal setting, learning from mistakes, the most important of all intelligences (Armstrong, 2010).

This is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, or MI. For instance, I use audio and video and read to learn new material; I read notes aloud when studying for tests. I highlight notes to remember material in different colors; this is both visual/picture and kinesthetic/body learning. I also draw or create charts, graphs, and graphic organizers (picture and logical intelligences) and put things I have to learn to music (musical intelligence).

What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

I had not realized how many times a day I seek information online, whether it be song lyrics, a map or driving directions, or a new teaching method. I am constantly in Google Docs, creating new lessons or helping students collaborate on projects.  I use online learning, quizzes, videos, animations, sounds, and music to teach my classes, and am researching new examples of all the above fairly regularly. I keep up with friends worldwide on Skype and social media. I play online learning games to keep my mind sharp; both my grandmothers had either Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia before their deaths, so I work hard to exercise my brain.


I am not currently creating and recording flipped lessons (5-10-minute lessons students watch outside of class, taking class time for activities using the knowledge) (Engin, 2014). I do plan on doing this over the summer, depending on what classes I’m teaching. I plan to start out slowly and gradually work my way into a more complete flipped model over time. I learn using my cell phones; my students should be as well, as my Korean students all have smartphones in their pockets. My students take pictures of things I write on the board, and quiz me about them after class. There are dozens of smartphone apps for learning; I think this summer will involve my researching them, determining which ones to use, and how to apply them in my classes.



Armstrong, T. (2010, November 9) [Video File] Integrating Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://video.ascd.org/services/player/bcpid2142538512001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAmGjiRE~,escbD3Me8-zJF3QWOqVE-OMrN3ranSrz&bclid=2142460013001&bctid=676689774001

Engin, M. (2014), Extending the Flipped Classroom Model: Developing Second Language Writing Skills through Student-Created Digital Videos, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14(5), 12-26. doi: 10.14434/josotlv14i5.12829

Gardner, H. (2003, April 21). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Paper presented to the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from http://www.kvccdocs.com/FYE125/lesson-resources/Gardiner-MI-Article.pdf

Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 48(4), 16–23.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s