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Alternative learning theories

Core readings provided in the module pack
Selected pages are supplied from Rogers (1994), an article by Northedge (2003) and a chapter by Mezirow (2009).

Person-centred learning
Rogers' (1994) person-centred learning approach is summarised (sometimes also called the student-centred or humanist approach). His key concepts are outlined: citizen versus tourist classrooms; and teaching versus the facilitation of learning. He emphasises the need for realness, trust, empathic understanding and freedom to learn.

Enabling participation
Northedge (2003) explores critically the student-centred versus teacher-led debate. He argues that students require the teacher (or facilitator) to engage in three areas: participation in meaning, well-planned design and participation in academic discourse. He draws particularly from the experience of working with older students.

Transformative learning
Mezirow (2009) provides a summary of the main features of transformative learning theory. His key concepts include: frames of reference; meaning perspectives; critical reflection and participation. He responds to criticisms that have been made of his approach and describes ways in which transformative learning can be linked with other perspectives including constructivist developmental psychology and Jungian psychology.

Integrating theory and practice
Consider the Rogers vs Northedge debate and design a group work session in the light of this.

Optional extension activities
1/ Read Fry et al. (2003) for a general overview of learning theories.
2/ For other examples of specific approaches, read King (2001) on problem-based learning or Schon (1995) on reflective practice.