Learning Sciences


Interdisciplinary study of learning and influencing learning

Principal Metaphors

Learning Sciences draws on a wide range of Coherence Discourses, and so it’s impossible to point to a single cluster of metaphors. With that point in mind, the following meta-notions offer a hint of the domain’s core themes:
  • Knowledge is … ecosystem of interdependent forms
  • Knowing is … doing, being
  • Learner is … an evolving coherence (neurological, psychological, social, and cultural)
  • Learning is … adapting, becoming
  • Teaching is … coupled engagement




Learning Sciences brings together Cognitive Science, educational psychology, educational philosophy, and other relevant domains to extend understandings of learning and efforts to influence learning. Concerned with the neurological, psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of learning, Learning Sciences is prominently focused on improving education through creating, studying, and modifying technologies and environments to support learning.


Learning Sciences is a rapidly evolving domain – and, partially in consequence, descriptions and definitions of the field can vary quite significantly from one commentator or institution to the next. Coupled to its broad range of influences and interests, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the domain as having a discernible and stable identity. That said, persistent (but not universal) elements of Learning Sciences include embrace of Coherence Discourses, affiliation with Design Thinking, and grounding in Complex Systems Research.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Ann L. Brown Roy Pea Roger Schank

Status as a Theory of Learning

Learning Sciences is commonly defined or described as focusing on learning, with a secondary interest in influencing learning. In fact, most of the publications focus on the latter – and so, while it would be incorrect to say the discourse is not interested in understanding the subtle complexities of learning, it would also be incorrect to assert it is principally focused on such matters.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Most of the publications associated with Learning Sciences are focused on influencing learning.

Status as a Scientific Theory

As might be inferred from its title, Learning Sciences is oriented by a commitment to defensible theorizing and empirical evidence. Notably, it has been a source of important conceptual and methodological innovation in educational research, especially around design-based investigative approaches. It meets all our criteria for the descriptor “scientific.”

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2019). “Learning Sciences” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.

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