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Overview of How People Learn Framework to Support Instructional Design

By Sean Brophy

Purdue University

Published on


The National Academy of Sciences commissioned a report on How People Learn which is now being used by a wide range of educators and researchers. The report provides a review of critical research on human cognition that has informed the development of pedagogical methods that lead to learning. The report evaluated a large number of effective learning environments ranging from early childhood to adult education and identifies four central dimensions common to all of these. These dimensions include: knowledge, learners, assessment and community. This online presentation provides a brief overview of this framework and some of the characteristics that define each dimension. This framework is a method organizing an evaluation or design of a learning experiences that will result in high impact learning outcomes (impact in acquired knowledge, number of learning objectives, efficiency of instruction and quantity of learners participating in a learning experience).


J. Bransford, A. Brown, and R. Cockings, eds., How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C (2000). accessed April 2010.

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  • Sean Brophy (2010), "Overview of How People Learn Framework to Support Instructional Design,"

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