From GOETE Glossary
Jump to: navigation, search

Learning is a process through which individuals acquire new knowledge, modify their behavior accordingly and try and gain control over their lives and the social world in which they are embedded. Learning theories refer to learning as an activity of exploring the world, as a cognitive construction (rather than instruction) of knowledge but also as a social practice which is situated in specific (social) contexts. Education systems represent societal attempts of organising learning processes towards pre-defined knowledge and competencies. With the emergence of a knowledge society the focus has been shifting from education to learning which implies an increasing responsibility of individual learners for their learning biographies and learning outcomes but also an increased attention to learning beyond formal educational institutions. Formal learning applies to prescribed learning frameworks, especially school, university and institutionalised vocational training. It is organised through curricula, implies the presence of a designated teacher or trainer and a final examination awarding a qualification or credit. Informal learning occurs in all contexts of everyday life such as shared experience among peers, in the family, the community or at the work place. Non-formal learning refers to contexts which are arranged in a way that certain informal learning processes are likely to happen. Spaces are arranged (like youth work) in which young people can experiment with own ideas and develop social competencies at the same time. Further, the notion of lifelong learning implies that learning is not restricted to specific phases of the human life course like childhood and youth but extends throughout the life span. In this respect, biographical learning and biographicity are gaining relevance.


Bekerman, Zvi (ed.) (2006) Learning in Places. The Informal Education Reader. New York et al.: Peter Lang.

Jarvis, Peter, Holford, John and Griffin, Colin (2003) The Theory and Practice of Learning. London: Routledge.

Lave, Jean & Wenger, Etienne (1991) Situated Learning.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bandura, Albert (1977) Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.

(Manuela du Bois-Reymond, Morena Cuconato, Andreas Walther)