Key Learning Theories

These resources include research-based overviews of learning theories and models, offering context for instructors who are interested in learning about the theory behind recommended approaches to teaching and learning.


Webpages and Articles

  1. What do we know about students' learning and how do we know it? (webpage) by Patricia Cross from the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) 1998 National Conference on Higher Education. This resource provides an overview of current research on learning. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from
  2. Organizing for Learning: A New Imperative (webpage) by Peter T. Ewell. A discussion of what is currently known about deep and lasting learning, and the organizational and educational structures that most effectively foster this learning. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from
  3. Explorations in Learning and Instruction (webpage) from the 'Theory into Practice (TIP) database webpage. TIP is a tool intended to make learning and instructional theory more accessible to educators. The database contains brief summaries of 29 major theories of learning and instruction. These theories can also be accessed by learning domains and concepts. Retrieved on August 27, 2015 from
  4. Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-wide focus on the student experience (pdf) by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and The American College Personnel Association.  Presents, "an argument for the integrated use of all of higher education's resources in the education and preparation of the whole student". Retrieved on January 10, 2012 from
  5. Index of Learning Theories and Models (webpage) by Learning Theories Knowledgebase. Theories and Models of Learning for Educational Research and Practice. This knowledge base features learning theories that address how people learn. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from
  6. Angles on Learning (webpage) by J S Atherton. Introduction to theories of learning for college, adult and professional education. A model presenting extensive listing and descriptions. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from
  7. The Learning Theory Jungle (article) by Robert L. Minter, PhD. “This paper explores the myriad of pedagogical and andragogical issues facing university educators in the student learning process, and focuses on how the proliferation of learning theories do not all apply to the adult learner.” (abstract) Minter, R.L. (2011). The Learning Theory Jungle. Journal of College Teaching and Learning 8(6): 7-15. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from
  8. Selected Publications (webpage) by Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. Links to selected publications on experiential learning theory. Retrieved January 9, 2012 from
  9. Enquiry-Based Learning from Theory into Practice (pdf) from the Academic Practice and Organisational Development, University of Birmingham, 2010. This review seeks to introduce a range of theoretical principles and practices that will enable higher education staff to design teaching and learning activities in an informed manner. Retrieved on January 9, 2012 from


  1. Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (book) by Julia Christensen Hughes & Joy Mighty, 2010. This book supports a commitment to evidence-based practise whereby a collaborative approach to change in higher education is encouraged to enhance student learning.  Christensen Hughes, J. & Mighty, J.  Taking Stock: Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Queen’s Policy Studies, 2010.
  2. How Learning Works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching (book) by Susan A. Ambrose (2010). Distilling the research literature and translating the scientific approach into seven general principles of how students learn. The authors identify a set of key principles underlying learning, from how effective organization enhances retrieval and use of information to what impacts motivation.


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

L'Université McGill est sur un emplacement qui a longtemps servi de lieu de rencontre et d'échange entre les peuples autochtones, y compris les nations Haudenosaunee et Anishinabeg. Nous reconnaissons et remercions les divers peuples autochtones dont les pas ont marqué ce territoire sur lequel les peuples du monde entier se réunissent maintenant.