Roger Säljö: The Concept of Learning

Roger Säljö (1979) carried out a study where he asked from adult students what they understood by learning. He interviewed 90 people about their approaches to learning. He found that there were important differences in how people saw their own learning. Their replies could be classified into five main categories:

  • Learning as a quantitative increase in knowledge. Learning is acquiring information or ‘knowing a lot’.
  • Learning as memorising. Learning is storing information that can be reproduced.
  • Learning as acquiring facts, skills, and methods that can be retained and used as necessary.
  • Learning as making sense or abstracting meaning. Learning involves relating parts of the subject matter to each other and to the real world.
  • Learning as interpreting and understanding reality in a different way. Learning involves comprehending the world by reinterpreting knowledge (sited in Ramsden 2003, pp.27-28).



Please think for a moment about your personal experiences with learning. What learning means for you? Share your thoughts with your tutor and peer students .