Bruner Learning Theories

Bruner Learning Theories

Bruner Learning Theories


Learning is a human activity that is done on daily basis. There are some theories that support the learning process of human beings. The theory which will be used here about learning is constructivism. According to this type of theory, humans actually construct knowledge. They learn by actively constructing knowledge about things around them. The main idea of the essay is talking about learning theory.There are different theories of learning, such as cognitive learning theories and also brain based learning theories we use mostly while analyzing behaviors.

The theory is constructivism that will be discussed throughout this essay. The main ideas in the theory of constructivism is that it focuses on experiences a lot. It believes in learning through experiencing things and getting knowledge about various things around ourselves. The essay will talk about famous theorists who have given their theories. These theorists are three in number and they are the famous ones like Piaget, Bruner and Vygotsky.

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The first theorist Piaget has done research on the child development. He talks about mental and cognitive development mostly. However, the second one Bruner has talked about a concept of scaffolding. The third one is Vygotsky who has delivered his concepts about social and cultural development of a child (Takaya, 2013). learning theories in education have its own importance like bruner learning theories, cognitive learning theories  and brain based learning theories.

Famous Theorists

There are many theorists who have explained their concepts about learning. They have explained this process of learning by giving various concepts that were research-based. Piaget has talked mostly about the ways through which a child’s mental processes are developed. He has talked about the process of maturation. He says that there is a level of maturity in every person. When a child reaches this level of maturity, he can perform different things.

He thinks that there are stages through which a person reaches a certain level. So, some time is required before someone can reach this sort of level. It not only need maturity, but some aspects of environment also help someone to learn better. There is another theorist who talks about the effect of the type of curriculum on the individual (Takaya, 2013).

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This theorist is Bruner who has talked mostly about scaffolding which is a process that helps the students in learning better. They just need that someone explain concepts to them and they learn themselves. So, there is an active learning process which they perform and they become independent learners. Vygotsky, another theorist gave his views about the development of children. The type of development that he mentions is about the way children are raised in the society.

It is cultural in nature and the people are thought to be learning things from their culture. So, it becomes a focal point for them through which they learn things about their environment. Let us talk about the theory by one theorist in detail here (Gale & Steffe, 2012).

Theory of Bruner Explained

The theory that has been given by Bruner will be explained here now. We will throw light on his life a little bit before explaining his concepts in detail. Bruner actually belonged to USA and he worked mostly on the ideas spread by another theorist Vygotsky. The concepts of Vygotsky are very famous in the field of education. They are still used in many different ways and they explain how learning is performed.

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However, Bruner was a strong advocate of active and interactive learning. He believed that children did not learn because they get good teachers or they are taught well. The children learn when they are provided chances to learn. So, they only need to be facilitated so that actually learning could be performed.

The main ideas of Bruner’s theory are following:

The children learn independently and they learn when they are given opportunities to learn.

Discovery plays an important role in helping the children learn.

All children have the capacity to learn in the same manner.

The theory is little different from the theory of Piaget. He believed that children learn when they are mature and they can learn these concepts better while Bruner said that they do not have this milestone.

Modes of Representation

He gave three modes in which learning occurs as mentioned below:
1. Enactive Mode
2. Iconic Mode
3. Symbolic Mode

According to Bruner, these are the modes in which learning process occurs. The first mode, enactive mode, the child learns the actions. His memory remembers the actions and the things he has seen. So, the process of learning is mostly action based. Children mostly perform this learning by rehearsing the action that they have seen (Gale & Steffe, 2012).

The second mode, iconic mode, contains the memory of images. In this form of learning, the children keep record of the memory of the scenes. The scenes cross their mind and they keep remembering these images. So, these images are stored in their memories for a big amount of time.

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The third mode, symbolic mode, is the learning in various forms of symbols. This form of learning can be easily manipulated and is greatly flexible in nature. The memory which is saved in the mind is stored in the form of letter, symbols, numbers or words.
He believes that the children learn in the stepwise manner in which they firstly go through the first stage which is action based and then move along to other two stages as described above.

Applications of Learning in Classrooms

There are many learning applications of the concepts that have been explained by Bruner. He has given his ideas about learning through the stage of learning that he has mentioned above. He has talked about various means, modes and strategies that cause people to be able to outwardly express their own selves. So, the activities like drawing, speaking, dancing, playing etc are used in schools to give the children a better learning experience. He has given certain recommendations for improving the learning experiences of children (Bruner, 2009):

He believes that the children must be facilitated so that they could learn better. They need a scaffolding in order to learn something.

The children must be assisted to develop the skills like problem solving and decision making. They only need little facilitation in order to get started with their learning process.

The learning process should focus more on the symbolic learning of the children

Spiral Curriculum

He believes that the children must be taught in the order of difficulty when easier tasks are taught earlier. So, it is a good learning application for the teachers that they teach the students in this order.


The essay discussed the aspects of learning process. There were three theories that were also briefly described here. However, one theory was fully described in detail. It showed that children can be taught various things about learning by facilitating them. These children need to be taught in a way that could help them become better learner. These children need to be taught from simple and easy tasks to little increase in the order of difficulty.

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So, the curriculum must also be designed in this way so that the learning of children could be improved. It is also important that the children are taught by making them independent learners. The teachers should focus on scaffolding process and must not make them increasingly dependent on themselves. For this purpose, they must give them tasks and check their learning process. They must keep note of their activities and focus on encouraging them to learn more (Bruner, 2009).


Bruner, J. (2009). Actual Minds; Possible Worlds. London: Harvard University Press.
Gale, J. & Steffe, L. P. (2012). Constructivism in Education. London: Routledge.
Takaya, K. (2013). Jerome Bruner: Developing a Sense of the Possible. Tokyo: Springer.


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