What is learning?

As you engage with content from this class, and any other college course, you must approach it with curiosity. You must ask questions. What is learning? What does learning mean to you? How do you know when you have learned something? These and other questions should be in your mind as you start navigating this course.

According to psychological literature, the following forms of learning could guide your though process to answer the previous questions:

  • Behaviorism: learning is a change in behavior
  • Cognitivism: Learning is a change in schemas – learner’s mental “boxes” categorizing information
  • Constructivism: learning is an active process influenced by context, social environment and prior knowledge

Strategic learning

Strategic learning entails viewing learning and studying as a systematic process that you are in control of most of the time. Strategic learners use strategies that involve setting goals, determining actions to achieve those goals, and mobilizing resources to execute actions Three key components of strategic learning are skillwill, and self-regulation.


  • Knowledge about yourself as a learner
  • Knowledge about different types of academic tasks
  • Knowledge about strategies for learning
  • Prior content knowledge
  • Knowledge about the contexts in which the knowledge could be useful


A successful student must also possess the will to succeed, knowledge alone is not enough. Will refers to:

  • Setting goals
  • Selecting appropriate study strategies
  • Believing in your own ability
  • Motivated to use the strategies and to succeed


Becoming a self-regulated students implies being actively involved in your own learning by setting goalsdeveloping plans for achieving those goals, monitoring your progress, evaluating your results, and maintaining/changing those techniques as needed. On our self-regulation unit we discussed four main characteristics of successful students:

  1. Active
  2. Strategic
  3. Self-regulated
  4. Independent

But knowing the names of these four characteristics is not enough. You must understand what does it mean to be active, strategic, self-regulated, and independent. You must also be able to apply the strategies that will make you a successful student (check the lecture slides available via Carmen).

Of extreme importance is understanding that self-regulation is a multi-step cyclical process. It requires Planning, Monitoring, Evaluating, and Adaptation. Self-regulation also requires an understanding of the task at hand, the strategy selected to accomplish the task and the implementation of the strategy to accomplish the performance.

four stages of self regulation cycle