Pedagogical models

Aggregation of pedagogical models used in e-learning

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Gráinne Conole
26 February 2010

  • What pedagogical models are there and how are they being used?

The term pedagogical models is often used in the context of e-learning (and indeed of course more broadly for learning and teaching). Models such as Kolb's learning cycle and Salmon's e-moderating framework and Lauriallard's conversational framework are much quoted. These are often used as an analytic lense to frame a research study or as a scaffold for guiding educational innovation.This cloud has been set up as a space to discuss these issues and aggregate information on what models and frameworks are around. Please feel free to add to.

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Paul Clark
2:10pm 26 February 2010

Would Problem Based Learning  qualify as a distinct pedagogical model? I think so. 

Gráinne Conole
2:15pm 26 February 2010

Hmm interesting one Paul - I'm not so sure.... I think PBL is essentially an approach/philosophy. Models to my mind are more specific instantiations - so for example you can have PBL models which take a particular approach and all adhere to the overall philosophy. Having said that the term 'model' is definitley slippery and used in a variety of different ways.

Gill Clough
2:30pm 26 February 2010 (Edited 2:34pm 26 February 2010)

Rebecca Ferguson and I recently wrote a chapter in which we used a pedagogical framework by Jonassen et. al.

Here's the section describing it.

Jonassen and his colleagues (Jonassen, et al., 2003) defined this [meaningful learning] as the learning that occurs when students are actively engaged in making meaning. They broke this definition down into five interrelated, interactive and interdependent attributes, and learning activities supporting combinations of these attributes were classified as meaningful. The five attributes of meaningful learning were identified as Active, Constructive, Intentional, Authentic and Cooperative.

Active (Manipulative/Observant) learning takes place when people develop knowledge and skills in response to their environment, manipulating objects and observing and learning from the results.

Constructive (Articulative/Reflective) learning occurs as people reflect on activity and observations and articulate what they have learned. Thus when new experiences appear contradictory, it is possible to engage in a meaning-making process to develop mental models and make sense of observations.

Intentional (Reflective/Regulatory) learning is founded on the assumption that people think and learn more when they are motivated to do so in order to achieve a cognitive goal. Technologies should engage learners in articulating what they are doing; decisions made, strategies chosen and answers found, thereby enabling them to use their constructed knowledge in new situations.

Authentic (Complex/Contextualised) learning is situated in a meaningful context rather than being oversimplified and presented in isolation. The learning environment presents authentic problems that are naturally complex and embedded in a real-world context, thereby stimulating higher-order thinking.

Cooperative (Collaborative/Conversational) learning relies on socially negotiated understandings that help learners build on and learn from their own and each other’s knowledge in order to construct new knowledge (Jonassen, et al., 2003).

These attributes were identified in order to assess the extent to which both technologically mediated learning activities and the environment in which they take place support meaningful learning in a formal classroom-based setting. Here, we investigate how these attributes can be understood in the context of Web 2.0 technologies, virtual worlds and knowledge-age skills.

Jonassen, D. H., Howland, J. L., Moore, J. L., & Marra, R. M. (2003). Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Clough, G. and Ferguson, R. (2010). ‘Virtual Worlds are Authentic Sites for Learning’ in Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontiers of Education. (eds Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G.)  Nova Science Publishers, New York

Gill Clough
2:33pm 26 February 2010 (Edited 12:48pm 1 March 2010)

Jonassen devised a set of very helpful rubrics for assessing meaningful learning with technology. I adapted these to apply to informal learning and used them to assess informal learning opportunities created by and encountered by members of the online Geocaching community.

The rubrics are applied in Chapter 7 of my PhD thesis which can be viewed from here.

Rebecca Ferguson
2:37pm 26 February 2010

Not exactly a pedagogical model, but James Paul Gee's 'affinity spaces' are relevant when considering models of online education. To summarise (I've added the full reference on the right of this Cloud) affinity spaces:

  • Are organised around a passion
  • Involve production - not just consumption
  • Make use of smart tools
  • Are not age graded
  • Put newbies and experts together
  • People mentor and are mentored
  • Knowledge is distributed
  • Knowledge is dispersed
  • Learning is proactive but aided
  • Everyone is always still a learner


Gráinne Conole
3:00pm 26 February 2010

Denise Whitelock mentions a number of pedagogical models with respect to assessment - have added a reference to her chapter on this.

Mike Johnson
3:28pm 26 February 2010

Having just added the ref to Jones and Ascensio, I wanted to make a point about Activity Theory.... :-) This crops up in books (eg. Jonnassen and Land's book on Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments) but it is not often you come across a treatment of it that resembles the depth of what AT is aiming at. I know Gráinne you've alluded to Activity Theory too in your work. Engeström (1987 of course) talks about expansive learning and you start to see triangles popping up in articles about the place, but as AT and other theories strive to capture more closely the essence of learning it almost defies designing for and we all end up doing PBL or IBL... which I dont have a problem with actually - apart from the need for a lot more group-working facilities on campus! Typical bit of Friday afternoon work avoidance rambling from johnson... 'Next?'

Gráinne Conole
3:36pm 26 February 2010

lol! good comments Mike. Yes I am a fan of Activity Theory but then I am a sucker for triangles, pyramids and octahedrons! ;-) I agree also that translating learning theories or models into practice is actually very difficult. I think we need a better understand of what the role of theory and models is and also how they relate to real practice.

Mike Johnson
3:54pm 26 February 2010 (Edited 12:49pm 1 March 2010)

yes - I was reminded of the symposium you took back in 2004 - especially Chris Jones' paper - there is a real tension/gap between those who 'do' theory and those who do 'practice' - 'twas ever thus (e.g. my School, Nursing).

Gráinne Conole
3:56pm 26 February 2010

Wow had forgotten about that! It was a good session and as you say much of the stuff from then is still very relevant today!

Giota Alevizou
3:58pm 26 February 2010 (Edited 4:01pm 26 February 2010)

An exerpt from the - long awaited - web 2.0 in higher education review I am developing pointing to novel pedagogical paradigms and changes in learner experiences. Also adding to the great framework proposed above by Gill and Rebecca.

Any educational practice that is concerned with the exploratory and social, the reflective or immersive aspects of knowledge building will find web 2.0 tools and services powerful. At the same time, It is also assumed that core affordances of Web 2.0 – affordances that often blur the boundaries between production and use (Bruns and Humphreys, 2007) – can impact on four principle aspects of the learner experience: the cognitive, the constructive, the social and the situative (see also Mayes and de Freitas, 2007)[1].  

Inquiry, exploration: Web 2.0 offers new ways to conduct research; it points to new ways to organise data from a multiplex of resources and new tools for interrogating rich information environments. On the cognitive side thus Web 2.0 invites users to familiarise themselves and develop confidence in new modes of inquiry. It too brings challenges to both learners and teachers as to the nature of control and legitimacy of information (e.g. Keen, 2007), the ephemeral nature of ‘web knowledge’, or cognitive overload. New forms of media and information literacy for filtering, navigating, organizing and manipulating relevant content (for a comprehensive discussion of literacy see below) are required.  

Communication and critique: With social networks arising around common (learning) interests or kinship, processes of engagement can be facilitated by peer guidance, reflection and support. The ability to openly comment and critique on other people’s work has become a standard practice within the educational blogosphere and within the collective cohort of personal portfolios (Ellison & Wu, 2008; Farmer, 2006[2]). While sharing perspectives is becoming common-place, there is a growing argument that decisions emerging from the human 'crowdsourcing' are the key to innovative thinking and problem solving (Leadbeater, 2008; Surowiecki, 2004), .

Creativity, collaboration and publication: learning is perceived as fundamentally collaborative in nature; On the more social side thus, effective Web 2.0 users must be comfortable with collaborative modes of engagement. Web 2.0 tools furnish a setting for learner achievements to attract an authentic audience. The creation of an audience for learners is a precious opportunity and Web 2.0 space promises to offer a stronger feeling of doing authentic research when students submit the products of their study. At the same time, participation and coordination in online social and creative spaces can appear in varying degrees of scale and depth, assuming not only casual activities, but also more sophisticated levels of interpersonal dialogue and deliberation (Farmer et al, 2008, Kim, 2008)[3]. It is important to build capacity for collaborative engagement under fluid, heterarchical structures; likewise, participants need to develop skills to be co-creators occupying flexible roles, while encouraging a sense of responsibility and pride  (Burgess, 2006; Ellison & Wu, 2008[4]; see  also Bruns and Humphreys, 2007 in relation to wikis) that may clash with ideas about ownership and structures of formal assessment.

Context: Web 2.0 tools provide particular opportunities for the personalisation of learning, because they enable activities such as the decoupling of applications and their recombination according to individual preference (the creation of what are often known as ‘mash-ups’), and because they allow individuals to create their own resources, which also potentially enables increased creativity in the curriculum. The potential for independent study and research or personal resource management are often coupled with possibilities to enhance motivation in the developing of learning skills and participatory learning.

Bruns, Axel and Salk Humphreys (2007) “Building collaborative capacities in learners: the M/cyclopedia project revisited”. Proceedings of the, 2007 International Symposium on Wikis,
2007, 1-10.

[1] Mayes, T. & de Freitas, S. (2007). Learning and e-Learning: The role of theory. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (eds) Rethinking pedagogy in the digital age. London. Routledge. 

[2] Ellison, Nicole and Wu, Yuehua (2008). “Blogging in the Classroom: A Preliminary Exploration of Student Attitudes and Impact on Comprehension“, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 17(2008), 99-122. Farmer, James (2006). “Blogging to Basics: How Blogs Are Bringing Online Education Back from the Brink”, in: Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs (ed.): Uses of Blogs. Peter Lang: New York, 2006.

[3] Kim, H. N. (2008) “The phenomenon of blogs and theoretical model of blog use in educational contexts” Computers & Education 51 (2008), 1342–1352., Farmer, Brett, Audrey Yue and Claire Brooks (2008).”Using blogging for higher order learning in large cohort university teaching: A case study”, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2008, 24(2), 123-136.

[4] Burgess, J. (2006). “Blogging to learn, learning to blog”. In: A. Bruns and J. Jacobs (Eds.), Uses of blogs,. New York: Peter Lang, 2006, 105-114.



Gráinne Conole
4:07pm 26 February 2010

Brilliant thanks for adding Giota - long awaited but worth the wait ;-)

Giota Alevizou
4:23pm 26 February 2010 (Edited 4:23pm 26 February 2010)

Also wondering how relevant would be to try to deploy the models above to online teaching practice that draws upon - and extends - the  Communities of Inquiry framework. The framework developed by Garrison and Anderson (2003) and
further advanced by Garrison and Arbaugh (2007) is widely used as a tool for conceptualising learning processes, in particular in higher education, and here with a focus on online learning. It consists of three core elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence – as well as categories and indicators to define each presence. The link (added right) contains full versions of some of the papers and books developed by Garrison, Anderson and Arbaugh, alonside interesting diagrams (mostly circular ;-).

Denise Whitelock
7:01pm 27 February 2010 (Edited 9:03am 2 March 2010)

With all these high level models its hard to to envisage the instantiation.  If we take any of the models implicit within them will be a feedback mechanism to the student from the tutor or peers.

Stuart Watt and myself built OpenComment  a free text formative  electronic assesment engine for History and Philosophy students. The feedback engine was based on the pedagogical model of the tutors. See reference above

The guidance text arose from our analysis of what feedback actually was, and how learners used it.  It built on our earlier work on Open Mentor (Whitelock & Watt, 2007).Throughout the development work, we worked closely with expert tutors in several Arts disciplines, using a range of techniques to elicit the processes they used to provide appropriate feedback. These ranged from role play (becoming a student) through to analysing collections of real answers and constructing sample solutions.

A preliminary analysis of 68 History assignments together with 100 plus assignments from different disciplines revealed a common pattern of tutor responses. These were clustered around the main categories of praise, advice on structure and presentation, particular misunderstandings, and developing and understanding particular issues.

The underlying model of feedback centred around:

  • Identification of salient variables
  • A description of these variables
  • Identification of trends and relationships between these variables

The result of these analyses were formalised as an operational model for formative feedback generation, as set out in the paper.  What's important is that here is a feedback model based on real pedagogical practice  that was open to test .

Gráinne Conole
10:02am 28 February 2010

I've added a link to a review of pedagogical theories and models that we did as part of the LADIE project. The LADIE project was part of a larger JISC e-learning framework programme (see this link for an overview of the project and links to the related work). It aimed to develop a learning activity reference model firmly based in practical experience of teaching and learning which permits flexibility and creativity for teachers and is not narrowly defined by available technology.

Diane Brewster
12:41pm 28 February 2010

Grainne, I think the work you did around "mediating artefacts" (from Activity theory) was incredibly useful when thinkng about how pedagogical models might be used in planning the use of technology to support teaching and learning.  My own research around Laurillard's Conversational Framework came to the conclusion that as a high level theoretical Model it was useful as a mediating artefect between TEL practitioners but was of limited value in planning TEL.  I don't think this is a failing in Laurillard's model, but in how it is being used.  I think the area is a muddy one as people latch onto highly theoretial mdels and frameworks which have helped them understand some of the dynamics of what goes on in TEL - but then there is a missing middle step where that understanding gets framed in such a way that it genuinely becomes practically useful to those who may not fully understand the theoretical model - i.e. mediating artefacts are produced that embody the understanding but are geared towards practical decision making.  It's this bit that really interests me!

Gráinne Conole
1:14pm 28 February 2010

Hi Diana

I agree I think we need to be clearer about what different frameworks and models are for and how they can be used. Some are valuable as analytic lenses, whereas others can provide a scaffold for guiding the design process. I'm glad yo found the Mediating Artefacts work useful, part of my mission with that work was to identify the range of MAs that there are and also how they could be used.

Frances Bell
12:46pm 1 March 2010 (Edited 12:46pm 1 March 2010)

An interesting aspect of models is who  uses them.  In teaching approaches where teachers model behaviours that  they wish their students to adopt, the models can be aimed at learners as well  as teachers.  So the Laurillard model could be presented with instructor  and student as roles rather than people with instructors revealing their own  roles as students and acknowledging when student become instructors.   Similarly Kolb's learning cycle could be applied by teacher learning  about new tech as a means of demonstrating the cycle as a tool for anyone's  learning.

Diane Brewster
1:15pm 1 March 2010

I think you're right Frances, Laurillard's CF is a model of how learning can happen between people when one is more knowledgable that the other.  I was listening to the radio on the way into work and the Beeb has a new "get connected" campaign - encouraging people who know how to use networking tools to pass that knowledge to someone they know who is not yet "connected",  The resulting mixture of information exchange and tasks given and undertaken will, I'm sure, be capable of being "mapped" or modelled using the CF (and not a "teacher" in sight!).

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
4:20pm 1 March 2010 (Edited 9:02am 2 March 2010)

I've written a paper (which will be published in May this year) entitled "Charting unknown territory: models of participation in mobile language learning". The focus is on how the use of mobile device is changing language learning. In the paper, I define 3 'models' within a continuum:

Specified activity model

Proposed activity model

Learner-driven activity model

At one end of the continuum, the emphasis is on making content and activities available on mobile devices, with the expectation that learners will engage with the language learning and complete it. At the other end of the continuum, learners are entirely self-propelled and undertake activities such as finding and downloading language learning resources or even creating some for others. In the middle, there are various resources and activities that are proposed to learners but which they may or may not take up; there are also resources and activities that learners suggest and share with one another.

When I have time I intend to do more work on this!

Gráinne Conole
8:27pm 1 March 2010

Thanks Agnes - sounds really useful. I think trying to come up with these kinds of "empirically-grounded" but accessible frameworks or models is going to be increasingly important in helping practitioners make sensible design decisions.



Salman Alhajri
4:30pm 19 September 2011

Hi all

My PhD research concerns about “Developing a Pedagogical model that aim to enhance and assess creativity of Omani graphic design students”. The research main aim is: ‘to develop a pedagogical model that can be utilized by graphic design lecturers to enhance and assess creativity of Omani graphic design students’. The main research question is: ‘What are the pedagogical strategies that can enhance and assess creativity of Omani graphic design students?’

This research investigates the creativity phenomenon within graphic design educational context. It aims to collect pedagogical strategies and educational methods that can enhance and foster creativity with graphic design students. With an assumption that, creativity is culturally defined and oriented, I mean, creativity in Omani (Arabic context) understood differentially, from western perspectives. Based on this, I already did the following steps:

-       Conducted a cross-cultural study to identify the creativity from western and non-western perspectives.

-       Reviewed the literature to collect a set of educational strategies that would be used to enhance creativity with graphic design students.

-       Conducted an (online) survey internationally to investigate the creativity definitions, creativity enhancement, and creativity assessment, all within graphic design education. The aim of this survey was to reflect into the international experience of creativity enhancement in relation to graphic education.

-       And finally, I have conducted 39 interviews with design educators, who teach graphic design disciplines at some Omani institutions.

I aim to use all these data to develop a pedagogical model that would be utilised by graphic design educators, particularly in Omani educational system, to guide them to enhance their students’ creativity within and without classes.

So far, everything is progressing smoothly. I’m now in the process of developing this model, as I need to finalise it and evaluate it by a ‘focus group’, I still have some questions in mind, which I thought some of you would have answers for them. These questions are:

  • Do you think it should be called a ‘model’ or a guide for educators? Or probably something else (instructional guide ....or ?
  • What are the requirements of developing a pedagogical model that can enhance creativity of graphic design students, and used by graphic design educators?
  • What are the contents of such pedagogical model?
  • Is there any example of this model in the literature?

In general, this model, would be the main contribution of this PhD, at least to graphic design field, I intend to suggest this model to THE MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION, at Oman, to be applied within higher education of graphic design system.

Any feedback will be welcome

Kind regards,


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