E-Learning Pedagogy Part 1: The Associative Perspective

June 11, 2014

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camera1E-learning pedagogy is the science and art and of online education. It looks at the ideas behind methods and practices used to transmit knowledge to learners, and distils them into frameworks, models, and theories so that we can better understand how and why these approaches work (or not).

Models and frameworks are useful because they can help guide course design and the teaching practice—guide the decisions of what types of content and activities are appropriate to help learners absorb the information present in the course. This is especially useful in e-learning, which requires transmission and interaction to happen through new (and constantly changing) media.

Professor of Learning Innovation Gráinne Conole has reviewed the three pedagogical models used most extensively for e-learning:

  • Part 1: The Associative Perspective (learning as activity through structured tasks)
  • Part 2: The Cognitive Perspective (learning through understanding)
  • Part 3: The Situative Perspective (learning as social practice)

In this series of three posts, we’ll look at these three different perspectives on how to teach effectively, online. First, the associative perspective:

Associative Learning

Associative learning assumes ideas and experiences reinforce one another and can be linked to enhance the learning process.

What does this mean?

This perspective focuses on behaviour modification—through stimulator-response pairs, trial and error learning, learning through association and reinforcement, and observable outcomes.

Related Models and Frameworks

Merrill’s Five First Principles

M. David Merrill’s principles outline learning components designed to build up knowledge and skills through a series of steps:

  1. Demonstration: learning is promoted when learners observe a demonstration.
  2. Application: learning is promoted when learners apply the new knowledge.
  3. Task-centred: learning is promoted when learners engage in a task-centred instructional strategy.
  4. Activation: learning is promoted when learners activate relevant prior knowledge or experience.
  5. Integration: learning is promoted when learners integrate their new knowledge into their everyday world.

These principles suggest the most effective learning environments are those which are problem-based.

Transaction Model of Direct Instruction

This model breaks out four distinct phases of direct instruction:

  1. Presentation phase:
    • Review of past material
    • Statement of skills and knowledge that will be learnt: what they are learning
    • The reason for this approach or material: why they are learning it
    • Explanation of the skills and knowledge that will be learnt
    • Opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding
  2. Practice phase:
    • Guided practice
    • Independent practice
    • Periodic review
  3. Assessment and evaluation phase:
    • Formative assessment (to monitor student learning)
    • Summative assessment (to evaluate student learning)
  4. Monitoring and feedback:
    • Cues and prompts
    • Corrective feedback

How is Associative Pedagogy Applied in E-Learning?

In applying associative models in an e-learning environment, both content and interactive features are linked directly to assessment and feedback to monitor the learner’s progress and track the connections they are making between ideas.

In the next post, we’ll look at the cognitive model of e-learning pedagogy.


Sell, market, manage, and scale your eLearning all in one place with the brand new Lambda Suite!!

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