Generative Learning: Principles and Implications for Making Meaning

Hyeon Woo Lee, Kyu Yon Lim, Barbara L. Grabowski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The first and second edition of this chapter defined generative learning and its foundations and presented relevant research that tested the theory. The primary goal of this edition is to reconceptualize the processes for making meaning by synthesizing theoretical foundations of generative learning and exploring generative learning effects by different types of learning outcomes. The essence of this model of generative learning is knowledge generation. Only through learners’ generation of relationships and meaning themselves can knowledge be generated that is sustainable-this is the essential process of meaning making by the learner. Likewise, only those activities that involve the actual creation of relationships and meaning would be classified as examples of generative learning strategies. A variety of studies reporting on results of generative strategies have shown that, in most cases, active learner involvement produced increased gains in recall, comprehension, and higher order thinking or improvement in self-regulated learning skill. Misconception, providing feedback, and developmental appropriateness are issues that have emerged as unresolved. As such, there is much research left to do to establish specific guidelines that help the designer create a learning environment that stimulates attention and intention, promotes active mental processing at all stages and levels of learning, and provides the learner with appropriate help in the generation process.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, Third Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781135596910
ISBN (Print)9780203880869
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2008 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • Attention: Arousal and intention in the brain that influence an individual’s learning processes. Without active, dynamic, and selective attending of environmental stimuli, it follows that meaning generation cannot occur.
  • Knowledge generation: Generation of understanding through developing relationships between and among ideas.
  • Meaning making: The process of connecting new information with prior knowledge, affected by one’s intention, motivation, and strategies employed.
  • Motivation processes: Wittrock (1991) specified interest and attribution as being the two essential and linked components of motivation processes activated by arousal and intention through the descending reticular activation system.
  • Self-regulation: Active participation in terms of behavior, motivation, and metacognition in one’s own learning process (Zimmerman, 1986).


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