Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Learning Theories in the Sciences

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Mathematics and Science Education

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will start of with a definition of learning. Case studies will be used to illustrate that students all learn in different ways and that there is no one theory that can fit all students but there are different learning theories that can be adapted according to the context and pedagogy.

The study-unit will look at the different learning theories and the ways in which they can be applied to the learning of science. Topics covered include behaviourism and the beginnings of learning theory; cognitive approaches to learning for understanding; constructivist learning; language and communication; socio-cultural learning theories; neuroscience and the influence of mind and brain; multiple Intelligences; differentiated learning; collaborative learning and implications for gender and culture; difficulties with learning and learning in different contexts.

Through the study-unit the student-teachers will be able to relate theory to practice and understand how learning theories feed into the way they teach, the classroom environment they create and the way in which they assess their students.

Study-Unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to:
- Introduce the students to the various theories of learning.
- Provide students with opportunities to explore how contemporary theories of learning affect curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
- Familiarize students with class based activities developed for students with different learning needs.
- Provide opportunities for reflection about the implications of theories of learning and their application in diverse learning contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Explain how students learn.
- Describe the different theories of learning.
- Reflect on the way the different theories of learning impact on students and pedagogy.
- Critically evaluate the current and contemporary theories of learning and the way they affect curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Plan a lesson based on current theories of learning.
- Plan a lesson catering to the diverse needs of students.
- Develop a set of class based activities for students with learning difficulties.
- Develop a set of collaborative learning tasks that take gender into consideration.
- Discuss new ideas about the ways in which students learn and how new technologies can impact on the way in which science is taught.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- Bates, B. (2016). Learning theories simplified…and how to apply them to teaching. Los Angeles: SAGE.
- Biddulph M, Lambert D & Balderstone D. (2015) [3rd Edition]. Learning to teach geography in the secondary school. London, Routledge.
- Fensham, P., Gunstone,R. and White,T. (1994). The Content of Science: A Constructivist Approach to it's Teaching and Learning.
- Pritchard, A. (2014). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom.
- White, R. and Gunstone, R. (1992). Probing Understanding. London: Falmer Press.


- Driver, R. and Bell, B. (1986). Students' thinking and the learning of science: a constructivist view. School Science Review, 67, 443-456.
- Harding, P. & Hare, W. (2000). Portraying Science Accurately in Classrooms: Emphasizing Open-Mindedness Rather Than Relativism. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 37(3), 225-236.
- Phillips, D.C. (1995). The good, the bad, and the ugly: the many faces of constructivism. Educational Researcher, 24, 5-12.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 40%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Charles G. Bonello
Deborah A. Chetcuti

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.