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Articles (1)

This article aims to compare and clarify two of the major learning theories, Constructivism and Behaviorism as well as to find out how they can contribute in designing online learning programs.

The basic principle of Behaviorism is that learning is the result of a person's response to a stimulus. The student does not work independently on the environment but on the contrary his / her behavior is controlled by environmental factors, thus not having the control of the learning or the time it takes to achieve it (Technology in Education, n.d). All the objectives are predetermined, while the student is tasked with absorbing the offered knowledge so that in the final stage it may present desired - predetermined behaviors. The pupil is individually assessed and controlled if his behaviors and performances can state that he has acquired the new knowledge according to the criteria the teacher has set as the right response. (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Thus, the teacher is at the center of learning, trying to find ways to enhance the desired behaviors by providing the appropriate stimuli without taking into account the social-cultural context of the learners as well as their needs, ultimately failing to contribute to the acquisition of a higher level of competence or those skills that require deeper processing (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis, 2005).

On the other side, another predominant learning theory is constructivism, which asserts that learning is an active process as students enter the process of building knowledge by trying to clarify the events of the world environment (Technology in Education, n.d.). Constructivists believe that learning only happens when there is active information processing and so they ask students to create their own motifs by linking new knowledge to those with the result that they constantly undergo the cultivation of post-cognitive skills (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis , 2005). Constructivists do not share the attitude of behaviorism that knowledge is independent of the mind and believe that the mind is the internal representation of the outside world, with the result that students are forced to construct their own knowledge through personal experiences and real events (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Actions in the constructivist model enhance the ability to solve the problems of those involved, the ability to conduct research and work within a group, while the educator plays the role of assistant-supporter of the learning process and his students, encouraging them to formulate their own ideas and conclusions (Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

Which one is better to use when designing e-learning courses?

The creation and the need to adopt a technological approach to the Internet learning, stems from the theory of constructivism. In an article by Vrasidas, Zebbys & Petros (2005), Vygotski's theories of self-regulating and reflective knowledge express the inseparably linked nature of those theories with new approaches in the field of education. As a result, teaching is driven to its peak, as the teacher is now invited to combine both pedagogical approaches and technological applications and new teaching approaches, effectively designing an authentic learning environment where the learners will benefit the most. (Erben, Ban & Casta ~ neda, 2009; Medina & Alvarez, 2014)

Despite their differences, these two learning theories are well suited to the design of online learning today. Although the various technological tools are primarily designed in the context of behaviorist theories  most teachers choose to use a combination of behavioral and constructivist design patterns, perceiving the dynamics of both theories in order to satisfy of the educational peculiarities of each student(Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

learning theories


Βρασίδας, Χ., Ζεμπύλας, Μ., & Πέτρου, Α. (2005). Σύγχρονα παιδαγωγικά μοντέλα και ο ρόλος της εκπαιδευτικής τεχνολογίας. Στο: Σ. Ρετάλης (επιμ.) Οι προηγμένες τεχνολογίες διαδικτύου στην υπηρεσία της μάθησης. (σελ. 35- 58), Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη. 

Erben, T., Ban, R., & Casta~neda, M. (2009). Teaching English language learners through technology. New York, NY: Routledge 

Technology in Education. (n.d.) Learning Theories.εκπαιδευτικό-υλικό/θεωρίες-μάθησης ">Retrieved October 4, 2017 by Educational-york/views

Kostantinidis, A. (2005). Learning Theories and Their Effects on Educational Software Design (Dissertation, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2005).

 Medina, L. C., & Alvarez, C. P. (2014). Fostering Collaboration in CALL: Benefits and Challenges of Using Virtual Language Resource Centres.

Weegar, M.A. & Pacis, D. (2012). A Comparison of Two Theories of Learning - Behaviorism and Constructivism as applied to Face-to-Face and Online Learning. Presented at the E-Leader Conference. Manila, Philippines.