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ItC 80: Different ways of classifying modes of learning

Show notes: https://www.benjaminlstewart.org/ 

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In episode 77: The learning styles myth, I discussed learning styles and came across the idea of "modes of learning." I wanted to unpack the idea of "modes of learning" and to see if there is any relevance to the idea of "learning styles" (using quotations marks to indicate a very fluid use of the meaning of the two terms). 

Google Trends

Rumelhart & Norman (1976)


Accretion is an informal assignment of the normal way of learning facts and other information through typical daily engagement. The presumption is that learning occurs through appropriate exposure to the concepts to be acquired - the banking system of education comes to mind.


Tuning is the modification of constant and variable terms referred to by the schema: 1) improving accuracy, 2) generalizing the applicability, 3) specializing the applicability, and 4) determining the default value (i.e., antecedents, historical perspective, cause-and-effect, etc.).


Restructuring is the retrieval of information and together with accretion, make up the "normal process of learning" (p. 13).

Okonkwo (August 2016)

Four modes of (quadrants to) learning:

  1. Hierarchical Individual (Quadrant I): An emphasis on individual achievement.
  2. Hierarchical Collective (Quadrant II): An emphasis on communal achievement.
  3. Distributed Individual (Quadrant III): An emphasis on the individual pursuit of unique interests with as much depth and breadth as desired.
  4. Distributed Collective (Quadrant IV): An emphasis on network learning where success is determined by the learning community and its members and is based on communal interests and priorities.

Wulff, Mergenthaler-Canseco, & Hertwig (2018)

Two modes of learning and the description-experience gap: 1) learning from the literature (i.e., from others) and 2) learning from personal experience.

Seidel, Marion, & Fixson (2020)

Teaching innovation consists of 1) a teaching method (i.e., experiential/making and conceptual/analysis) and 2) participant context (i.e., disciplinary and interdisciplinary).

Four modes of teaching innovation

  1. Design thinking: A focus on experiential/making and is interdisciplinary
  2. Focused inquiry: A focus on experiential/making and is disciplinary
  3. Emerging trends: A focus on conceptual/analysis and is disciplinary
  4. New perspectives: A focus on conceptual/analysis and is interdisciplinary

Learning modes (2021)

Different learning modes requiring learners and instructors to interact differently:

  1. Collaboration: learn with others
  2. Discussion: talk about learning
  3. Feedback & reflection: learning about learning
  4. Guided: learn with an expert
  5. Explicit: learn from an expert
  6. Demonstration: presenting learning
  7. Experiential: make, explore, investigate
  8. Independent: learn by myself

Also, implicit/explicit learning, intentional/incidental learning, abstract/concrete, analytical/intuitive, declarative/procedural knowledge, etc.