Theory Name: Structural Learning Theory
Authors: Scandura, Joseph M.
Associated Learning Theory
Cognitive Learning Theory
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
Specification of Theory
(a) Goals and preconditions
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
(c) Condition of learning
1. This theory is based on interaction between a tutor and on or more
2. Technology may fill the role of tutor.
3. The structural (task) analysis determines the rules required to solve
(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
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
Scandura, J.M. (2002). Structural learning theory in the 21st century.
Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning, 2(3). Available online