Personal Learning Theory

Personal Learning Theory

The work of Vygotsky provides the majority of the theoretical support required to substantiate my personal learning theory and reflect my pedagogical approach. I believe a human’s desire to learn is innate. This desire is the catalyst to learning the knowledge and skills that better enable humans to interact within their own environment and culture. This belief is consistent with the Vygotskian-sociocultural view, which contends that the mind is inherently social and cultural contexts influence learning experiences (Miller, 2002, pg. 373). Not surprisingly, I put forth a great amount of effort trying to create a learning environment that encourages social interaction and allows development to be aided by others to help reach a learner’s potential. More specifically, Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development is a principle that influences my teaching approach.

Drawing on Vygotsky’s insights, the framework of Distributed Cognition was new to me and instantaneously caused me to broaden my perspective on human learning by helping me to understand that knowledge is not confined to the solitary mind of an individual. Rather, knowledge is apportioned amongst a social and material environment (Hutchins, 2000). This theory is certainly eye opening for me and has allowed me to further appreciate the profound role technological tools are playing in today’s learning processes.

My first learning theory draft stated that new concepts, skills, and ways of thinking should be linked to a learner’s existing knowledge base. I learned this notion is consistent with Ausubel’s concept of meaningful learning, which contends that a learner assimilates new information into relevant existing knowledge frameworks (Novak, 1998, pg. 51). In my classroom, I use what Ausubel would call, advanced organizers to activate a learner’s prior knowledge before presenting new material. Ausubel’s theory also helps to support my assertion that rote learning is inferior to other methods of knowledge acquisition.


Hutchins, E. (2000). Distributed Cognition. Available online at:

Miller, P. H. (2002). Theories of Developmental Psychology, 4th Ed. (pp. 367-396; Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Approach). New York: Worth.

Novak, J. D. (1998). Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations (pp. 49-78; ch 5 – Ausubel’s Assimilation Learning Theory). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


Posted on October 7, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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