How is Learning best Accomplished?

As I read articles that discuss different learning principles, techniques, and models, I keep wondering how one makes the right choice on which to use.  Merrill (2002) discusses five principles in his article, each of which sound as though they would work just fine, but I think it is fair to say that not every principle would work for every topic, student, or environment.  Does this mean that the perfect teaching style is a mix of many principles?  If that is the case, how does one create the perfect blend?  I have limited teaching experience (which is one reason I am taking the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program), as I gain more experience I would like to assess the subject matter I teach and blend learning principles to see how well the blend works for both me as the instructor and the students.  I think the same concept applies to learning theories, the right one or ones depends on the topic.  In one of my previous blog posts, I discussed my use of constructivist learning theory (Moore, 2019).  As I revisit information regarding theories, I realized that the collaborative problem solving theory would also fit the limited teaching/coaching that I do in my current role.  The steps outlined by Nelson (Nelson as cited in Merrill, 2002, p. 54) would help learners to feel confident in the lesson presented to them as they learn in order to bring that skill to the working world.

While I have worked with Merrill’s article (2002) before, I enjoyed revisiting it and seeing how my perspective has changed.  I am looking forward to one day implementing these theories and principles in the classroom, and in curriculum design and development.



Merrill, M. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.

2 thoughts on “How is Learning best Accomplished?

  1. Hi Kathy,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post. Much of your thinking about the Merrill reading resonates with my learning (MALAT) and teaching experience. I appreciated your comment about the various principles and teaching theories and strategies that Merrill explores and you asking: “Does this mean that the perfect teaching style is a mix of many principles? If that is the case, how does one great the perfect blend? ” After teaching in K-12 learning environments for 18 years, I believe the answer to your questions is: YES! I do believe that the perfect teaching style is a mix of many principles, and “the blend” changes (as you alluded to) depending on your students’ learning needs. This is largely why “differentiation” has long been the basis of how I try to teach, engage, and evaluate my students of different ages. Differentiation encourages me to literally “change-up” how I share learning with my students on a daily basis. this inevitably draws on different principles of learning and theories, based on the context and learning goals.

    I have realized that for me to be the kind of teacher that I want to be, I need to keep changing, growing, and learning — and using new and different teaching strategies all the time. EdTech has only amplified all of the above!


    1. Thank you for your comment Leigh. Throughout the reading I see that change is a critical piece of teaching. Teachers, of any level, who are willing to try new strategies are the ones who seem to have a drive in the classroom. I think once a teacher stops wanting to learn and grow his/her effectiveness reduces in the classroom. As learners, we have all, likely, experienced teachers who are only there to get the job done, but who no longer is interested in learning themselves and it can be evident in the classroom. Classrooms are places for everyone to learn, students and teachers alike!


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