Learning Principles

The Theory and Research Based  Learning Principles, Provided by the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence of Carnegie Mellon University. Primarily to promote Learner Centered Learning. In support of their purpose, which is to ” Empower education students/instructors by helping them develop a deep understanding of how students learn, so that they can effectively apply and adapt teaching strategies to meet their own goals and their students’ needs”. With this, Education Students/ Instructors will be able to understand and relate to the principles by translating it to local experience.


1. Prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.

“Prior knowledge is the lens through which we view all new information. If that lens is inaccurate, incomplete, or naïve, it can interfere with or distort the integration of incoming information (Clement, 1982; NRC, 2000). Consequently, it is important for us to know and address the misconceptions students hold, and to connect new information to accurate information they already possess.”

– If students at an early stage, those who are just starting to learn basic concepts on the course, are thought with something wrong, it is most likely that they will carry that wrong knowledge with them in the next level. I’ve seen a lot of kids being corrected by their parents because they found out that their kid’s knowledge is wrong, but then the kid would say ” because my teacher said so..” they tend to believe their teacher more than their parents. That is the danger of having a prior knowledge with the subject that is not correct.

However, if the teacher taught the student correctly, chances are they will carry that basic knowledge with them in the next level and do better there, because they are already acquainted with the topic during their previous level. These will not only make learning less challenging, but also improve the ability of the students to create  new knowledge based on their previous one.

2. Motivation generates, directs, and sustains learning behavior.

“Motivation influences the amount of time and effort students devote to learning and supports their continued engagement when difficulties arise. Motivation may be influenced by a number of factors, such as students’ interests, goals, and expectations (Hidi and Renninger, 2004; Bandura, 1989; Carver and Scheier, 1990), students’ beliefs about learning (Schommer, 1994, Dweck, 2002), and emotional experiences surrounding the learning context. In addition, students learn when the classroom environment provides a balance between support and challenge (Kuh, et.al., 2005). Finally, knowledge itself can be a powerful motivator – the more students know, the more they want to know.”

There are many ways to motivate the students, but first we have to understand the two (2) kinds of Motivation. As defined by Wikipedia;

  1. Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are internally motivated to do something because it either brings them pleasure, they think it is important, or they feel that what they are learning is significant.
  2. Extrinsic motivation comes into play when a student is compelled to do something or act a certain way because of factors external to him or her (like money or good grades).

– Having a motivated student can be considered ideal, but then we still cannot say whether any of the two kinds of motivation is appropriate for all students, because one might be working hard in his academics because he is after the scholarship grant, monetary reward or simply his interest.

Still, regardless of ones source of motivation, according to wikipedia, it can affect the students to behave towards the subject matter. A motivated student can:

  1. Direct behavior toward particular goals
  2. Lead to increased effort and energy
  3. Increase initiation of, and persistence in, activities
  4. Enhance cognitive processing
  5. Determine what consequences are reinforcing
  6. Lead to improved performance.

But because students are not internally motivated at all times, teachers must create a situational motivation based on the two (2) kinds of motivation discussed above. So, it is important for teachers to recognize the importance of motivation in enabling the students to create knowledge and be able to sustain their enthusiasm for learning beyond the 1-hour period.

There is no single type of motivation that would apply to all students, each has its own way of being motivated. By understanding motivation, teachers can use both kinds of motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic) and it would be up to the student to react positively on which kind of motivation better suits them.

3. The way students organize knowledge determines how they use it.

Knowledge representations that accurately reflect the concepts, the relationships among them and the contexts of use, enable students to retrieve and apply knowledge both effectively and efficiently. Our knowledge representations in turn shape further learning (diSessa, 1982; Holyoak, 1984; NCR, 2000). When knowledge is organized according to superficial features, when the connections are inaccurate ,or if the representation is a set of disconnected and isolated concepts, students can fail to retrieve or appropriately apply their knowledge. We need to help students learn to organize knowledge the way experts do, around core concepts or big ideas that guide expert thinking about our domain, and we need to identify and correct students’ disconnected information and inaccurate links.

4. Meaningful engagement is necessary for deeper learning.

Meaningful engagement, such as posing and answering meaningful questions about concepts, making analogies, or attempting to apply the concepts or theories to solve problems, leads to more elaborate, longer lasting, and stronger representations of the knowledge (Craik and Lockhart, 1972). By forming more connections to related ideas, these activities increase the likelihood that students will be able to retrieve and use the concepts and skills when they are relevant.

5. Mastery requires developing component skills and knowledge, synthesizing, and applying them appropriately.

Many activities that faculty believe require a single skill (for example, writing or problem solving) actually involve a synthesis of many component skills Anderson et al. (1989).  To master these complex skills, students must practice and gain proficiency in the discrete component skills (for writing this may involve identifying an argument, enlisting appropriate evidence, organizing paragraphs, etc; for problem solving it may require defining the parameters of the problem, choosing appropriate formulas, etc.)  To perform complex tasks, students must also practice and gain proficiency in synthesis, in other words organizing and integrating component skills into a coherent whole.  Finally, students must understand the conditions and contexts of application and must practice applying skills and knowledge appropriately in new contexts, otherwise they may have difficulty transferring knowledge and skills learned in one

6. Goal-directed practice and targeted feedback are critical to learning.

Goal-directed practice involves working toward a specific level of performance and continually monitoring performance relative to clearly define goals. When these goals are explicitly communicated to students, they guide and support students’ purposeful practice and help students monitor their progress. In addition, students’ practice is more effective when instructors (a) provide feedback that explicitly relates students’ performance to the criteria, (b) ensure that the feedback is timely, frequent, and constructive, and (c) provide opportunities for them to incorporate that feedback into further practice. (NRC 2001; Wiggins 1998). Instructor feedback can come via formal (e.g., quizzes, papers, exams) and informal (e.g., classroom activities) assessments.

7. Students must learn to monitor, evaluate and adjust their approaches to learning to become self-directed learners.

In other words, students must become conscious of their thinking processes. This is called metacognition (Matlin, 1989; Nelson, 1992). One way to help students develop metacognitive skills is to require them to explicitly monitor, evaluate, and reflect on their own performance, and provide them with feedback on these processes. Another is to model our process for students, by showing them how we approach problems, question our strategies, and monitor our performance. In addition, we can provide a series of explicit prompts or questions that ask students to monitor and evaluate their performance. With sufficient practice students should eventually internalize these processes and use them without the need for external aids.

8. Because students develop holistically, their learning is affected by the social, emotional and intellectual climate of the classroom.

Students are not only intellectual but also social and emotional beings, and thus all these dimensions interact to impact learning and performance (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). The social and emotional aspects of the classroom climate affect students in ways that can enhance or hinder learning (Ford, 1992). For example, students will be more likely to take intellectual and creative risks if they feel supported and respected. By the same token, when students fear ridicule or persecution, or feel marginalized or stereotyped, they may disengage from classroom participation and learning opportunities, or perform more poorly (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Walton & Cohen, 2007).


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