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Theories of learning and curriculum design
Key positionalities and their relationships

Author - Tony Cunningham, Julie Gannon, Mary Kavanagh, John Greene, Louise Reddy, Laurence Whitson

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One of the challenges academics face when designing pedagogies and curricula is how best to articulate their own positionalities regarding the different ways theories or models of learning inform both the process of design as well as the product. It is difficult to find a text book or design resource that illustrates the relationships between the main theories of learning and how they might inform a coherent approach to programme design in higher education. For that reason we decided to produce this summative guide to learning theories and a chart illustrating their relevance for pedagogies and for curriculum design.            

The guide starts with our agreed glossary of terms which are used to structure both the text and the chart. We then briefly describe the five main models of learning used in the chart: behaviourist, humanist, information processing, activity and situated.            

We hope the reader will find the text and the chart useful in generating structured discussion when facing a major pedagogical or curriculum design task.