2How People Learn

Jeroen van Merriënboer

2.1 Introduction

Learning refers to the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge, skills, and attitudes and as such, learning is inherent to all human life. People learn by doing, by working together, by exploring, by listening, by reading books, by studying examples, by being rewarded, by discovering, by making and testing predictions, by trial and error, by teaching, by abstracting away from concrete experiences, by observing others, by solving problems, by analyzing information, by repetition, by questioning, by paraphrasing information, by discussing, by seeing analogies, by making notes, and so forth. Learning is a broad container concept and this makes it very hard to answer the question “How do people learn?”

In order to make research on learning and instruction manageable, theories are typically developed within particular “paradigms of learning” (Van Merriënboer and De Bruin 2014) and/or they focus on particular domains of learning, such as models for declarative learning, emphasizing instructional methods for the construction of conceptual knowledge, models for procedural learning, emphasizing methods for acquiring skills, and models for affective learning, emphasizing methods for the formation of attitudes (Bloom 1956). This chapter takes a different stance. It starts from the basic assumption that all types of learning eventually lead to cognitive schemas in long-term memory, that is, patterns of thought or behavior that ...

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