Learning Theory Resources

Learning Theory WordleA learning theory is a theory about how learning occurs. A learning theory is different from an instructional design model, but the two are intertwined and often discussed together. In fact, many models for designing learning experiences reflect one or more theories about how humans learn.

A comprehensive listing with brief summary pages about learning theories is from the InstructionalDesign.Org website by Culatta (2013) on his Learning Theories page.

While no one can reasonably be expected to be an expert with each of the theories from that resource or others provided here, all instructional designers are encouraged to save these resources and refer to them as needed in your practice designing learning experiences and to have a general awareness of broad theoretical categories.

A useful resource for conceptualizing categories of learning theory is from Millwood (2013): this interactive graphic provides a wealth of information about how various learning theories can be conceptualized as relating to one another. Although not everyone might agree with the relationships and descriptions Millwood provides, the resource is without question a valuable resource to use when learning about and as a job aid to recall learning theories.

Additionally, conducting a Google Images Search for Learning Theories will provide you with a wealth of visuals, ranging from diagrams to comparisons to infographics, which can all inform your understanding of learning theories and their many varieties.

Finally, another extensive summary of learning theories can be found from Donald Clark’s blog “Plan B” – the table below provides hyperlinks to the menu of postings on the blog as a convenience. You are encouraged to visit the actual blog and use it as a resource in learning about instructional design and as a model of a well-designed education-related blog too.


Religious Leaders

Religious Zealots





















~ Lisa Johnson, Ph.D.


Culatta, R. (2013). Learning theories. Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/

Millwood, R. (2013). HoTEL: Holistic approach to technology enhanced learning: Innovators opinions, perspectives [Interactive image file]. Retrieved from http://hotel-project.eu/sites/default/files/Learning_Theory_v6_web/Learning%20Theory.html