As Walden University’s graduate course ‘Learning Theories and Instruction’ comes to a close, in this assignment I will reflect upon what I have learned and how I will apply that learning in future courses and in my career in the instructional design field. Specifically, I will identify the concepts I found surprising about how people learn, recall how this course deepened my understanding of my own learning process, and examine the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. In addition, I will explore how my learning in this course furthers my career as an instructional designer.

Prior to enrolling in this course, I had a working knowledge of the general concepts of adult learning theories primarily due to my 15 year experience as an adult educator in a hospital, but I was not knowledgeable of other learning theories with the exception of recognizing names such as Pavlov, Skinner, Piaget, and Maslow from psychology and human growth and development courses as an undergraduate student. Thoroughly examining the learning theories of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism provided the key concepts for understanding how people learn, factors influencing their learning, the role of memory, how transfer occurs, and the types of learning best explained by each theory (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 53). This knowledge became the foundation for understanding key concepts of more advanced learning theories such as Social Learning Theory (Hill, Song, & West, 2009), Connectivism (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008), Adult Learning (Fenwick & Tennant, 2004), and Multiple Intelligences Theory (Armstrong, 2000). Knowing key concepts of these learning theories is not enough. What really matters is being able to incorporate learning strategies into my instructional designs based on these theories and applicable to the objectives and desired outcomes of the learning events.

This course deepened my understanding of my own learning process through the reading of required and supplemental resources and the viewing of online videos. For example, I saw the correlation between Behaviorism theories and teaching methods used in my elementary and secondary education, Cognitivist theories of learning and its “explanations, demonstrations, and emphasis on practice with corrective feedback” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 64) utilized during my basic nursing training, and the elements of Constructivist learning style I use in my professional career as an instructional technology educator. Learning details of cognitive information processing and its key concepts including levels of processing, attention, sensory registers, short term memory, long term memory, learning tasks, encoding, elaboration, schemata, skill acquisition, practice and feedback, and meaningfulness (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009, p. 48-97) provided the foundation of knowledge I need to understand my own learning process as well as transfer that knowledge to others through the utilization of new and improved instructional design skills.

As an educator in my professional career, I now recognize the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. Learning theories provide a “source of verified instructional strategies, tactics, and techniques” as well as a “foundation for intelligent and reasoned strategy selection” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 51). Learning styles are the “characteristics, strengths, and preferences in the way people receive and process information” (Felder & Silverman, 1988 as cited in Franzoni & Assar, 2009, p. 18). Whether designing face-to-face instructional programs or online learning, according to Felder et al. (2002), “understanding learning style differences is an important step in designing balanced instruction that is effective for all students” (as cited in Gilbert & Swanier, 2008, p. 31). Franzoni & Assar recommends the use of an “adaptive taxonomy” (2009, p. 23) to select teaching strategies based on learning style dimensions and electronic media relationships, therefore providing a link between all three. “There are three factors affecting the choice of application method: teacher, student, and the method itself” (Franzoni & Assar, 2009, p. 25). In addition, motivation, the “level of effort an individual is willing to expend toward the achievement of a certain goal” (Brennen, 2006, as cited in Pew, 2007, p. 14) plays a critical role in “energizing, directing, and sustaining behavior” (McDevitt, 2006, as cited in Pew, 2007, p. 14).

The knowledge I have learned in this course will enable me to immediately start incorporating different instructional strategies into my classroom and e-learning courses based on learning theories and researched-based instructional methods. Having marketable skills as a as an instructional designer opens the door to new and different career opportunities in the event I choose to seek employment in another organization.

In conclusion, this course has been a valuable learning experience. I am confident I will utilize the theoretical foundations of learning theory and instructional methods in my professional career as well as in future graduate courses.


Armstrong, T. (2000). Chapter 1: “The foundations of the theory of multiple intelligences. In Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Ertmer, P.A., & Newby, T.J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), pp. 50-72. Retrieved from

Fenwick, T., & Tennant, M. (2004). Chapter 4: understanding adult learners”. In G. Foley (Ed.), Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from

Franzoni, A. L., & Assar, S. (2009). Student learning styles adaptation method based on teaching strategies and electronic media. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 15-29. Retrieved from

Gilbert, J. E., & Swanier, C. A. (2008). Learning styles: how do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal, [Vol. 1], p. 29-40. Retrieved from

Hill, J.R., Song, L., & West, R.E. (2009). Social learning theory and web-based learning environments: a review of research and discussion of implications. The American Journal of Distance Education, 23, 88-103. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/ 08923640902857713

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 2, 14-25. Retrieved from http://ezp.


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