Unaffiliated Discourses


Explaining why learners do what they do in terms of the action rather than a reward

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … range of possible activity
  • Knowing is … appropriate action
  • Learner is … a malleable being
  • Learning is … changing
  • Teaching is … supporting change




Some discourses on influencing learning seem to be applicable to virtually every other discourse – that is, they present constructs and recommend actions that can be aligned with a broad diversity of perspectives. A critical element of such discourses seems to be a resistance (or perhaps failure) to offer an explicit and/or consistent interpretation of learning, apart from the near-universal belief that learning entails change. For example ...
  • Cognitive Learning (Knowledge Change) (R.E. Mayer, 2000s) – a change in personal knowledge that is due to experience
  • Content Literacy – competencies in decoding and interpreting texts, typically associated with abilities to anticipate meaning before reading, paraphrase while reading, and summarize after reading. Content Literacy is discipline independent, and it is generally regarded as necessary to but insufficient for Disciplinary Literacy.
  • Disciplinary Literacy ­– facility with the specialized vocabulary, distinct ways of thinking, and unique modes of expression that are particular to a discipline
  • Individual Learning – a phrase encountered in multiple fields to refer to a change in a learner’s behavior and/or understanding, and typically defined operationally in terms of a demonstrable contrast in behavior and/or understanding across two defined moments in time.
  • Knowledge Organization (Information Organization; Organization of Information; Organization of Knowledge) – an academic domain concerned with strategies and tools used to access, distribute, and maintain established knowledge. A wide range of theoretical perspectives on knowledge, information, learning, and teaching are represented in the domain.
  • Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1990s) ­– a term coined to embrace two emergent elements of education: Multimodality (see below) and linguistic diversity
  • Multimodality (Multiple Literacies) – the simultaneous use of multiple modes of communication and/or representation (e.g., textual, aural, iconic, gestural), generally intended to support richer communications and more robust understandings. Subdiscourses include:


The fact that a particular discourse can be aligned with multiple, conflicting other discourses should not, in itself, be seen as a flaw. Arguably, in fact, such discourses may be tapping into elements of deep and broad consensus, even if they may not be offering new or compelling insights.


  • Cognitive Learning (Knowledge Change)
  • Content Literacy
  • Disciplinary Literacy
  • Eureka Task
  • Individual Learning
  • Knowledge Organization (Information Organization; Organization of Information; Organization of Knowledge)
  • Melodic Learning
  • Multiliteracies
  • Multimodality (Multiple Literacies)

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2023). “Unaffiliated Discourses” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.

⇦ Back to Map
⇦ Back to List