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ETEC 512: Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core course)


This course is intended as an overview of the major theoretical approaches to learning, especially as they are applied to educational contexts.


As will become clear during ETEC512, there is no 'best' theory that can account for all aspects of human learning. As such, the overarching objective of this course is to expose students to a variety of theories, each of which has potential to be useful in understanding learning and teaching in a variety of settings. However, for this information to be useful, educators need to have an understanding of when and how different approaches should be utilized. To this end, many of the assignments and activities of this course will focus on applying different theoretical perspectives to ill-defined, realistic learning situations. In addition, one of the goals of this course is for students to develop a coherent, explicit sense of their own beliefs about learning, and how the various theories hold together and are related to, or influenced by, the other perspectives.

This course is comprised of 5 separate modules, not of equal length . As a starting place, in the first module (weeks 1 and 2) students will be expected to articulate their personal pedagogical perspective. The readings and activities associated with this module are designed to facilitate this. In a similar fashion, to close out the course, the final module will provide an opportunity for the students to revisit their learning theory and re-articulate it, incorporating the knowledge acquired from this course. The intervening modules will cover different aspects of learning, and as each topic is covered, students will revisit their pedagogical beliefs. More specifically, starting in the second module, students will be expected to develop a concept map of their perspective of learning. This map will be added to and reformulated at the end of modules 2 through 5. In addition, for each of the major topics, thought questions will be posed for students to respond to, with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of the material presented. Below is an overview of the modules:

  • Module 1 (week 1 & 2): Developing a Personal Learning Theory
  • Module 2 (week 3, 4 & 5): Behaviourist and Cognitive Approaches to Learning
  • Module 3 (week 6, 7 & 8): Developmental Approaches to Learning
  • Module 4 (week 9, 10, 11 & 12): Social Approaches to Learning
  • Module 5 (week 13): Consolidation

Overview of Assignments


All students are expected to do the readings and to participate in dialogue with other students about the course topics. In addition, there are several required products for this course, each is described below.

  1. Personal Learning Theory (15%): Students will develop a 1-page overview of their personal pedagogy. An initial draft will be developed at the beginning of the course and a final draft at the end of the course.
  2. Concept Map (25%): Students will develop and revise a concept map during this course. Reflections and discussion are incorporated throughout the course to facilitate this.
  3. Thought Questions (20%): During the course, students will be expected to respond to thought questions. There are a total of 4 thought questions and responses are not to exceed one page.
  4. Group Presentations (20%): For each major topic, there will be a group presentation. The objective of this assignment will be to link theory with practice, including dealing with constraints that exist in the real world.
  5. Participation (20%): Quality and quantity of participation in various discussions will be assessed.


A variety of readings have been compiled for this course. Some of them are available online through the course website and some of them are available as a reading packet, available for purchase from the UBC bookstore.