Institute for Christian Studies                                                                  Ways of Learning Syllabus - Fall 2016  

1540 Ways of learning


Participants in the course will:


It is impossible within the parameters of a single course to provide a comprehensive overview of learning theories, nor would it be of great use merely to revisit the territory participants have already covered in their initial preparation for teaching and ongoing professional development. The focus will be on evaluation of significant theoretical orientations to learning, deriving insights from these perspectives while reframing them within a biblical view of the person, knowing and education. This will provide participants with the tools to continue their investigation of appropriate approaches within their own school context.

A teacher’s interest in learning theories for the most part concerns how these might inform their professional practice. For this reason, John Van Dyk’s The craft of Christian teaching is employed to contextualize these theories within issues of instructional strategy, commencing with a consideration of what Van Dyk means by “teaching Christianly”.


  1. The problem of learning.
  2. Craniums, creation, cognition.
  3. Theorizing in Christian perspective
  4. Development and learning: Problem-solving, insight, activity.
  5. Piaget and constructivism.
  6. Situated cognition.
  7. Development and learning: cognitive science.
  8. Ways of wisdom. Multiple Intelligences theory. Learning styles
  9. Integrated and differentiated instruction
  10. Research into teaching.
  11. Values education: moral, spiritual etc.
  12. Faith and imagination.


Phillips, D.C., and Jonas F. Soltis. (2009). Perspectives on learning. 5th ed. New York: Teachers College Press.

Silver, H. F., Strong, R. W., & Perini, M. J. (2000). So each may learn: integrating learning styles and multiple intelligences. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Van Dyk, J. (2000). The craft of Christian teaching: a classroom journey. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt Press.


Beck, C. R. (2001). Matching teaching strategies to learning style preferences. The Teacher Educator, 37(1), 1-14.

Bereiter, C. (1991). Implications of connectionism for thinking about rules. Educational Researcher, 20(3), 10-16.

Bereiter, C. (1994). Constructivism, socioculturalism, and Popper’s World 3. Educational Researcher, 22(7), 21-23.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., & Ronning, R. R. (1999). Problem-solving and critical thinking. Cognitive psychology and instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ and Columbus, OH: Merrill-Prentice Hall, pp. 182-212.

Caine, R. N., & Caine, G. (1997). How the brain/mind learns. Education on the edge of possibility. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, pp. 101-115.

Checkley, K. (1997). The first seven…and the eighth: a conversation with Howard Gardner. Educational Leadership, 55(1), 8-13.

Clouser, R. A. (1991). Theories in psychology. The myth of religious neutrality: an essay on the hidden role of religious belief in theories. Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 141-163.

D’Arcangelo, M. (2000). How does the brain develop? A conversation with Steven Petersen. Educational Leadership, 58(3), 65-70.

Denig, S. (2004). Multiple intelligences and learning styles: two complementary dimensions. Teachers College Record, 106(1), 96-111.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Situated cognition. Psychology of learning for instruction. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, pp. 152-180.

Dunn, R., Griggs, S. A., Olson, J., Beasley, M., & Gorman, B. S. (1995). A meta-analytic validation of the Dunn and Dunn model of learning-style preferences. The Journal of Educational Research, 88(6), 353-362.

Egan, K. (2005). A tool kit for learning. An imaginative approach to teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 1-37.

Fowler, J. W. (1981). Faith as imagination. Stages of faith. Blackburn, Aust.: Dove Communications, pp. 24-31.

Fowler, S. (1997). Unearthing gifts with multiple intelligences and other tools. In I. Lambert & S. Mitchell (Eds.), The crumbling walls of certainty: towards a Christian critique of postmodernity and education. Sydney, NSW: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, pp. 136-153.

Gardner, H. (1999). Are there additional intelligences? Intelligence reframed: multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York, NY: Basic Books, pp. 47-66.

Groome, T. (1998). A reasonable wisdom: “Thinking for life.” Educating for life. Allen, Texas: Thomas More, pp. 267-315.

Guild, P. B., & Chock-Eng, S. (1998). Multiple intelligences, learning styles, brain-based education: where do the messages overlap? Schools in the middle, 7(4), 38-40.

Jensen, E. (1998). Emotions and learning. Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, pp. 71-81

Kagan, S. (2001). Teaching for character and community. Educational Leadership, 59(2), 50-55.

Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (Eds.). (1988). The action research planner (Third ed.). Burwood: Deakin University, pp. 8-22.

Meece, J. L. (1997). Cognitive development: information processing and intelligence theories. Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, pp. 173-192.

Mitchell, I. (1992). A perspective on teaching and learning. In J. R. Baird & J. R. Northfield (Eds.) Learning from the PEEL experience. Melbourne: Monash University Printing Services, pp. 178-193.

Phillips, D.C. (1995). The good, the bad, and the ugly: the many faces of constructivism. Educational Researcher, 24(7), 5-12.

Posner, M. I. (2004). Neural systems and individual differences. Teachers College Record, 106(1), 24-30.

Renzulli, J. S., Gentry, M., & Reis, S. M. (2004). A time and a place for authentic learning. Educational Leadership, 62(1), 73-77.

Seerveld, C. (1980). The fundamental importance of imaginativity within schooling. Rainbows for the fallen world: aesthetic life and artistic task. Toronto, ON: Toronto Tuppence Press, pp. 138-155.

Seerveld, C. (2000). A Christian tin-can theory of the human creature. In C. Bartholomew (Ed.), In the fields of the Lord: a Calvin Seerveld reader. Carlisle, UK and Toronto, ON: Piquant and Toronto Tuppence Press, pp. 102-116.

Shearer, B. (2004). Multiple intelligences theory after 20 years. Teachers College Record, 106(1), 2-16.

Sprenger, M. (1999). The lanes less traveled: instructional strategies for episodic, procedural, automatic, and emotional memory. Learning and memory: the brain in action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, pp. 73-80.

Van Brummelen, H. (1998). Nurturing students in community. Walking with God in the classroom: Christian approaches to teaching and learning (2nd ed.). Seattle, WA: Alta Vista College Press, pp. 185-214.

Westwater, A., & Wolfe, P. (2000). The brain-compatible curriculum. Educational Leadership, 58(3), 49-52.

Wolterstorff, N. (1980). Internalizing tendencies. Educating for responsible action. Grand Rapids, MI: CSI Publications/Eerdmans, pp. 63-73.

Zull, J. E. (2004). The art of changing the brain. Educational Leadership, 62(1), 68-72.

Web Resources 

Animal School

Comer, C. Neuroscience, the Science of Learning, Educational Reform

Davidson, R. The Heart-Brain Connection: The neuroscience of social, emotional, and academic learning

Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles

Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology

Gardner, H. Multiple Intelligences 

Gardner, H. Multiple Intelligences after 25 years

Laufenberg, D. How to learn? From mistakes.

Learning Theories

McCandliss, B.“Educational Neuroscience: How Education shapes Brain Development”

McGilchrist, I. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (lecture) (animation)

Mitchell, A. Neuroscience in Education

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

PEEL (Project for Enhancing Effective Learning)

Theories of Learning in Educational Psychology

Willingham, D. Brain based education: Fad or breakthrough?

Willingham, D. Learning Styles Don’t Exist



Course Blog

Length: Minimum 3,500 words (weekly postings of approximately 250 words each)

Weighting: 30%

This assignment requires you to contribute actively to discussion through the course blog, which will be established once enrolments in the course have closed and we have received everyone’s email address.

The Study Guide contains many places where you are asked to write responses to questions, to comment on readings, to evaluate your own understanding and behaviour, etc. Each week, you are required to post your reflections on these reflections—your ‘meta-reflections’—to the discussion forum. You may briefly summarise and then reflect critically on your own ideas and uncertainties, as these grow out of and extend the ideas you have already formulated and recorded in the Study Guide. You should raise specific questions and issues related to the topic that you feel are worthy of further investigation.

Just as important as posting your own reflections, you are to engage in dialogue with other participants in the course by responding with questions and comments on their postings. A very important part of this engagement will relate to your action research projects (Assignment 2), though your comments should not be restricted to the latter.


Action research project

Length: 4,000–5,000 words

Weighting: 70%

Theories of learning are often presented in ways that are remote from the classroom. This action research project is designed to contextualize the theories you have been considering in your daily practice, in a manner that is consistent with a biblical worldview and your calling as a Christian teacher. An introduction to action research can be found in Reading 1. What follows is a brief overview of the approach that you will apply to a problem of your own choosing.

Your project begins with careful observation of and reflection on the learning climate in your school, informed by your reading in this course. Your reflection will be oriented toward action, as you identify a thematic concern and propose a way of improving your practice and the practice of your students. This change to your way of doing things by no means needs to be revolutionary: on the contrary, action research promotes a small innovation that is but one step in an ongoing cycle of innovation. After identifying a promising action, you will plan carefully for its implementation. As you act on your plan you will move into a new phase of observation, thus commencing the action research cycle again.

It is obvious from the preceding description that while the four phases are represented as distinct steps, they are not rigidly separated from one another. As you act, you will also be observing, and observation itself is by no means a passive gazing at a scene but itself a reflective engagement in your situation.

You are encouraged to find a colleague or colleagues who will be able to act as a sounding board for you. It is not necessary for them to be enrolled in this course—though if they are, this will be a distinct advantage for each of you; they are only expected to give you feedback as you develop your ideas. It would be a further advantage if they were also willing to test some of these ideas in their own classroom.

Whether or not you have someone on site to act as a “critical friend”, other participants in this course will be expected to act in this capacity, as you will for them. Assignment 1—the course blog—will be the context in which you propose a plan for your action research and receive feedback from your colleagues and the instructor. It will also be the site for ongoing collaborative reflection on your project.

There is another significant social dimension to your project: your students. You should view your project as an opportunity to engage your students collaboratively in reflection on the learning process. In Freire’s terms, they are student-teachers and you are teacher-student.

Course Instructor

Joonyong Um (MEd, MDiv, PhD Cand.)

I am pleased and honoured to learn in this course with you. I am a PhD candidate in Philosophy of Education at the Institute for Christian Studies, working on the implications of a theme of the Book of Job for the Christian schooling context in Korea. I live in North York, ON, and enjoy camping, riding kick scooters and reading books with my wife and two girls.

I started my career as a high school English teacher, mainly for Gr. 10, in South Korea in 2000-2003. I was a youth pastor for Gr. 7-9 students in a Presbyterian church near Seoul in 2003-2009, when I was studying in a Presbyterian seminary. I was ordained in 2008. I was a curriculum researcher in the Christian School Education Research Center in Korea in 2006-2008. I studied in the Calvin College graduate program (M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction) in 2010-2012, before I came to ICS in 2012. I was a student researcher on the ‘Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)’ in Christian higher education for Dr. David I. Smith of Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning. I co-authored ‘The scholarship of teaching and learning in a Christian context’ (Christian Higher Education 13.1) in 2013, based on the results of the research on SoTL.

I have been an instructor, session presenter, and translator in conferences and workshops for Christian teachers and parents, including the Christian Parenting Seminar for Korean-Canadian parents in Toronto in 2014 and 2015 (“A biblical perspective on public school education: Wisdom, Modeling and Inquiry”), the Christian English Language Teachers Conference in Toronto in 2015 (“How can learning English help EFL students love strangers?”), the workshop for Korean-Canadian church teachers and ministers in Winnipeg in 2015 (“Youth ministry: Curriculum planning and small group management”), a teachers’ group from Christian alternative schools in Korea visiting Christian schools in Ontario in 2016, and a Project-Based Learning Workshop for Christian Alternative School Teachers in Korea in 2016. Papers and presentations listed above were all born out of my final works for Dr. Doug Blomberg’s courses at ICS.

I hope that my learning and teaching experiences as an educator and pastor from Korea may be helpful for your learning journey of Ways of Learning. I look forward to learning beside you!

Course Designer

Doug Blomberg, PhD, EdD

Doug is Senior Member in Philosophy of Education at the Institute for Christian Studies.

After completing a PhD focusing on the implications of a Christian theory of knowledge for school curriculum at the University of Sydney (in which the notion of “ways of knowing” was a major focus), Doug was called to Mount Evelyn Christian School, Melbourne, in 1977, where he was a teacher, Senior High School Coordinator and later Vice Principal (Curriculum). He was also Principal of the (now National) Institute for Christian Education from its inception in 1978. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian College of Education for his ‘contribution to the theory and practice of Christian schooling’; in the following year he was part of a team researching the Christian school movement at the Calvin College Center for Christian Scholarship, Michigan.

Doug has published many articles on Christian schools and other topics, as well as co-authoring and editing A Vision with a Task: Christian Schooling for Responsive Discipleship (Baker, 1993), Humans Being (NICE/ACS, 1996) and ReMINDing: Renewing the Mind in Learning (CSAC, 1998). Wisdom and Curriculum: Christian Schooling after Postmodernity was published by Dordt Press in 2007.

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