Introduction to Learning Theory

This unit introduces students to evidence-based learning theories and explores how these inform instructional design, assessment, and teaching practice.  Students will examine classical and contemporary learning theories through a Christian worldview lens and consider the effectiveness of these and how they can be applied in various learning contexts with different groups of learners. This is a foundational unit that positions students to be able to apply learning theories to design effective instructional practices that provide engaging learning experiences for a broad range of learners.

Quick Info

  • Currently offered by Alphacrucis: Yes
  • Course code: EDU116
  • Credit points: 10
  • Subject coordinator: Sue Westraad

Awards offering Introduction to Learning Theory

This unit is offered as a part of the following awards:

Unit Content


  1. Identify and critically evaluate evidence-based practices related to foundational teaching and learning Practices.
  2. Analyse and discuss classical and contemporary learning theories and their application and impact in a variety of teaching and learning contexts.
  3. Investigate and discuss how different cultural, linguistic, psychosocial, physical, and emotional factors impact learning.
  4. Design and deliver short, structured learning experiences based on best practice and evidence-based strategies.
  5. Collaborate with peers to explore effective teaching strategies based on learning theories.

Subject Content

  • The science of learning. What is evidence-based learning theory and why is it important? The student perspective - visible learning & meta-analyses.  Cognitive science approaches in the classroom and understanding these from a Christian worldview.  The different factors that influence learning (age, background, culture, language, ability, strengths, learning environment) and the importance of considering these in learning design.
  • Classical Learning Theory. Behaviourism (Pavlov, Skinner and Watson). Cognitivism/constructivism (Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner). The historical context and research approach of these theories.
  • Neuroscience and learning. The structure of the brain and how it works. Brain-based learning. Neuroplasticity. Differentiating a good idea from evidence-based theory (neuromyths).
  • Cognitive Load Theory. Memory, attention, information processing and cognitive load theory. How to apply cognitive load theory to enhance learning and retention.
  • Learning Theory.  Engage with novice versus expert theory, the role of direct instruction, and elaboration theory. Discovery versus inquiry-based learning. Structural Learning (John Dewey)
  • Who is learning? Social and emotional learning (SEL), motivation, self-regulation, culture and other factors that impact on learning. 
  • The role of assessment and feedback. An introduction to assessment, feedback and the role of these in the learning process. 
  • An introduction to Learning Techniques. Research-based strategies for teachers, Teaching walkthrus.
  • Online learning. Effective online teaching practice. Techniques and engagement. 
  • Reflection and integration

This course may be offered in the following formats

  • Face-to-Face (onsite)
  • eLearning (online)
  • Intensive

Please consult your course prospectus or enquire about how and when this course will be offered next at Alphacrucis University College.

Assessment Methods

  • Critical Reflection: Forum Post (20%)
  • Minor Essay (30%)
  • Integrated Project (50%)

Prescribed Text

Primary Readings provided.