The mistake to mistake learning theory for didactics

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The article shows how, especially in the Denmark, broad concepts of constructivism and socio-cultural learning theories seem to have replaced education theory and didactics as conceptual framework reasoning on teaching and choices of design in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. We llustrate how and why didactic theory and practice cannot be deduced from learning theoretical concepts and have discussed possible consequences of the displacement towards learning theory. Finally, we argue that both learning theories and didactics are fundamental for systematic reflection of teaching and learning and cannot be replaced by each other. Empirical research gives strong arguments for a variety of methods and a clear eye for the students’ learning process as a whole, and we do not question the relevance of a student-oriented approach in the sense that teaching is planned and carried out with a clear focus on the pedagogical significance and students learning. But we do question student-oriented approaches as the only methodological dimension in teaching. In line with (Barr & Tagg, 1995, p. 14) our credo is that teachers must chose “whatever approaches serves best to prompt learning of particular knowledge by particular students.”. Furthermore, we do question the idea that learning theory can replace didactics and that the education system benefits from the current learnification. The exchange of the language of teaching with the language of learning is not just a simple replacement of one word with another without significance of the meaning. On the contrary, it deprives us a systematic framework for reflection on teaching, at the risk of becoming blind for the many didactic decisions that we make whenever we try to design “learning environments” and “learning activities”. The risk points in two directions: Either we forget the role of schooling and teaching and leaves the student with the responsibly of designing educational relevant activities. In this case, students become responsible not only for their own learning but for own teaching. Or we might be seduced to think that we as teachers actually plan – or even steer and observe – students learning and risk to neglect “the educative difference of matter and meaning and a strong conviction that teaching and learning are necessarily autonomous activities” (Hopmann, 2007, p. 121). We will designate the first risk as “the students as his/hers own didactician” (Keiding, 2008) and the second as “trivialization” (Luhmann, 2002b, p. 77ff) and in line with Keiding and Qvortrup (2014) uphold that neither is compatible with quality teaching and hence not with the function of a Scholarship in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
TitelOn the Definition of Learning
RedaktørerAne Qvortrup, Merete Wiberg, Gerd Christensen, Mikala Hansbøl
Antal sider24
ForlagSyddansk Universitetsforlag
ISBN (trykt)978-87-7674-876-0
StatusUdgivet - 2016


  • Læringsteori, Didaktik, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

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