Theory Name: Structural Learning Theory

Authors: Scandura, Joseph M.

Associated Learning Theory
Cognitive Learning Theory

Model Description
Structural Learning Theory is a prescriptive model that suggests learners should start to develop rules for problem solving. In developing rules, the learner needs to fill the gaps in the problem and in doing so, learns problem solving.

Specification of Theory
(a) Goals and preconditions

(b) Principles
1. Teach higher order rules that can be used to derive lower order rules.
2. Teach simple solution paths and lead to more complex paths.
3. Rules must be composed of the minimum capabilities possessed by the learner.

(c) Condition of learning
1. This theory is based on interaction between a tutor and on or more learners.
2. Technology may fill the role of tutor.
3. The structural (task) analysis determines the rules required to solve the problem.

(d) Required media

(e) Role of facilitator
External agent (especially a tutor) that influences learning.

(f) Instructional strategies
1. Use structural analysis to identify the problem domains (input and output for problem solving).
2. Develop a hierarchy of rules for the problem domain. Start with prototypical examples. These prototypes may leave gaps.
3. Convert these gaps into higher-order problem that contains the rules for the gap.
4. Filling the gaps with the higher-order rules help to validate lower level rules and allow for consolidation of redundant rules.

(g) Assessment method
The learner can use higher-order to problem solve in complex and ill-defined domains. The learner can distinguish between lower and higher-order rules. Learner identifies enabling rules to solve problem.

Formative Research & Application
(a) Tested context – K-12 (Especially Mathematics)
(b) Research method
(c) Research description
(d) Resources

Scandura, J.M. (2002). Structural learning theory in the 21st century. Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning, 2(3). Available online at:

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