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Learning theories are the main guide for educational systems planning in the classroom and clinical training included in nursing. Nursing educators by knowing the general principles of these theories can use their knowledge more effectively according to various learning situations, (Aliakbari et al, 2015).  Learning theories can be classified into three general groups: Behaviorism, cognitive, and constructivism.

Constructivism is a learner-centered model, with students actively constructing meaning to new information and instructors facilitating learning by providing detailed feedback and asking guiding questions, (Clark, 2018).  Constructivist theorists include Bruner (discovery learning) and Vygotksy (social development theory).

Behaviorism emphasizes that learning takes place when a person responds favorably to some type of external stimuli. Learning is defined by behaviorists as nothing more than the acquisition of new behaviors, (Clark, 2018).

Cognitivism emphasizes the role of mental activities in the learning process. Cognitivism replaced behaviorism as the dominant learning theory in the late 1950s and early 1960s, (Clark, 2018).  Cognitive psychologists, unlike behaviorists, believe that learning is a targeted internal process and focus on thinking, understanding, organizing, and consciousness, (Aliakbari et al, 2015)

Clark, K. R. (2018). Learning Theories: Constructivism. Radiologic Technology, 90(2), 180–182. Retrieved from

Fatemeh Aliakbari et al, 2015. Learning theories application in nursing education.  Retrieved form :

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