A Simple Guide To 4 Complex Learning Theories

Do you know the actual theories of learning? A learning theory is an attempt to describe how people learn, helping us understand this inherently complex process. There’s sub-levels of each theory, behavior and other categories … it’s complex. But it’s worth understanding.

This helpful infographic does a solid job of breaking down the basics of learning theories in a visual and understandable format. I personally enjoy the part about connectivism in the digital age. That’s really key for most Edudemic readers to understand I’d say!

theories of learning


  1. François

    December 24, 2012 at 8:51 am

    There’s an inversion between cognitivism and constructivism…

  2. Robin

    December 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Nice chart, but as François says, are the labels switched on cognitivism and constructivism?

  3. Christina

    December 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    This is a great chart! I really want to send it to my colleagues, but as mentioned twice already, the two long columns in the middle (Constructionism and Cognitivism) are switched. And should “Contructiorism” (in two places) actually be “Constructionism”?

    • Jeff Dunn

      December 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Updated the chart!

  4. SAK

    December 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    This is a really good overview Bravo! What did you use to make this? Please advise as I have so many infographics in my head that I really need to offload them somewhere.
    Also fantastic job on updating the info.

    Au revoir from sunny Switzerland.

  5. RobG

    December 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Nice chart! What license would you like to use for it? If it is CC, I’d love to share it in my classroom.

    I assume the version I’m seeing is the updated one since the description of Constructivism matches my understanding of it, but I wonder if Constructivism and Cognitivism could/should be switched (the entire columns). This would nicely bring the sub-labels Understand, Remember, Apply, Analyze (if switched with each other), Create and Evaluate directly in line with Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive learning.

    Oh, and there’s a letter missing on “Undestand” [sic].

  6. José Mota

    December 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    It’s true that George Siemens proposed Connectivism as a learning theory for the digital age (2004), but from then onward Stephen Dowes has contributed at least as much to develop the theory and the practice of connectivism and connective knowledge. You should credit him alongside Siemens, imo.

  7. Jim Olsen

    December 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I like the basic idea of the chart, but I’m not impressed with the results. Connectivism is not a complete theory (yet). It is also unclear how one would *add* it to the other three theories to get a “complete learning theory.” Also, this infographic seems to change gears. It is unclear in places how to make sense of how the sections match up. I do like the idea of comparing and contrasting learning theories, but this info graphic leaves quite a bit to be desired for me.

    • Malena Pechi

      January 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Could you add something creative instead?, maybe you could add some constructive learning to the discussion.

  8. Belaineh Mekonnen

    December 31, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Thank you all Edudemic partners and readers for posting this infographics about the simplest guide to visualize the four core complex learning theories. In my case it helped me have clear picture of learning protocols easily, assessing how far it would take me to cover, if it was through the classical way of reading books. Think of all the resources it cost (books, time, money, efforts, etc). That is what learning easily by connectivism means for me.
    If modest enough, the only suggestion I want add is using the word “classical” instead of saying “traditional” in the post. Because as of my understanding the theory we have been through, in its time was a governing principle that lead the listed theoreticians of the time.