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Theories of learning explain learning, defined as an enduring change either in behavior or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience. Although contemporary theories of learning are heavily based in psychology, they also reflect philosophical tenets. This entry discusses the functions of theories of learning, their philosophical bases and psychological beginnings, issues addressed by contemporary theories, and two broad classes of learning theories: behavior and cognitive.

Functions of Theories

Theories of learning serve many functions. Theories help us make sense of the world because they provide coherent frameworks for interpreting knowledge gained from environmental observations and research findings. Without theories, observations and findings might be disorganized collections of information, because there would be no overarching framework ...

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