Theory Into Practice

Explorations in Learning & Instruction:
The Theory Into Practice Database

Welcome to the Theory Into Practice (TIP) database!

The Theory Into Practice (TIP) database contains descriptions of over 50 theories relevant to human learning and instruction. Each description includes the following sections: overview, Application, example, principles, and references. Relationships between theories are identified by highlighted text within articles. These relationships can be connections between specific theories or to concepts that underlie a number of theories. The theories are also indexed according to content domain and type of learning.

Theories were selected for inclusion in the database based upon their relevance to some aspect of human learning and instruction. All theories come from published literature (English language only). Theories that focus on animal learning, neuropsychology, learning disabilities or teaching strategies are not included. The database also does not include theories of learning that have limited scientific support (see Druckman & Swets, 1988; Druckman & Bjork, 1991) or are primarily philosophical in nature (e.g ., Dewey, Freire, Illich, Polanyi).

In cases where there are a number of researchers associated with a theoretical framework, the version associated with the originator or most prominent researcher is presented. The descriptions of theories provided in each article, including the examples and principles, were developed from the analysis of secondary sources as well as the primary works of the theorists. These secondary sources include: Bugelski (1971), Hilgard & Bower (1971), Klausmeier & Goodwin (1975), Lefrancois (1995), Reigeluth (1983), Richey (1986), Sahakian (1976), and Snelbecker (1974).

One important consideration to keep in mind when reading the articles is that theories evolve over time. The descriptions herein present theories at a particular stage of development (usually their most well-known form). Furthermore, almost all of the theories discussed are substantial; the brief summaries provided only outline the basic ideas and implications. TIP is intended to be a guide that identifies theory relevant to particular instructional settings. Further examination of primary or secondary sources will be necessary to understand a given theory in detail.  Online access to many of the original articles by theorists can be found at .



How to cite materials on this site

To cite this work using APA Style: Kearsley, G. (today’s date). The Theory Into Practice Database. Retrieved from



Original References

Bugelski, B. (1971). The Psychology of Learning Applied to Teaching (2nd Ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

Druckman, D. & Swets, J. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance. Washington, DC: National Academy< Press.

Druckman, D. & Bjork, R. (1991). In the Mind's Eye. Washington, DC: National Academy< Press.

Hilgard, E.R. & Bower, G.H. (1975). Theories of Learning (4th Ed.). Englewood< Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Klausmeier, H.J., & Goodwin, W. (1975). Learning and Human Abilities (4th Edition). New York: Harper & Row.

Lefrancois, G.R. (1995). Theories of Human Learning (Kro's Report), 3rd Ed. CA: Brooks/Cole.

Reigeluth, C.M. (1983). Instructional Design Theories and Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Richey, R. (1986). The Theoretical and Conceptual Basis of Instructional Theory. London: Kogan Page.

Sahakian, W. (1976). Learning: Systems, Models, and Theories (2nd Ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally.

Snelbecker, G. (1974). Learning Theory, Instructional Theory, and Psychoeducational Design. NY: McGraw-Hill.

Travers, R.M. (1982). Essentials of Learning (5th Ed.). NY: Macmillan.