I am applying for faculty position in some school and among the documents needed, they asked for "Teaching, Learning and research philosophy.", this my first time to hear about learning philosophy and not sure if it's written separately or combined with the teaching philosophy. I am familiar with teaching, research, service, diversity and inclusion statements, but first time to pass by learning statement/philosophy. I tried to google up, but I couldn't find an answer. Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


A learning philosophy is about how people learn things. It can mesh with a teaching philosophy, but isn't the same. Different people learn different ways, though there is some controversy about such distinctions.

There has been research on learning, based on the science of the brain itself. The idea is that learning requires a physical change in the brain - rewiring of synapses. A good source is The Art of Changing the Brain by James E Zull.

Ultimately people learn through reinforcement and feedback. A teaching philosophy can work with such things. Relatively few people actually "learn" something by seeing/hearing it once, in a lecture, say. So instructors give assignments that provide reinforcement and, hopefully, also provide feedback on the learning so that the wrong things aren't reinforced.

People can learn without formal teaching, of course, and people can "teach" with little actual learning. Ideally we want to bring the practice of teaching into conformity with how people actually learn.

One thing that new instructors often forget is that their students are all different and that, in particular, most of their students are different from themselves. Professors got to where they are, mostly, through a unstoppable drive to learn. Their students often have different goals.

It is also important to recognize, as an instructor, that students often don't really know how to learn. Ineffective note taking, over reliance on memorization at the expense of insight, cramming for tests are seen too frequently.

While it is possible, to write a combined statement on learning and teaching, and in general, one without the other may not be optimal, in the present case I think the expectation is that you provide separate documents on teaching, learning, and research. That is just from the phrasing of the request. You wouldn't combine all three into one document. The teaching and learning documents need to be consistent, of course.

  • Still I didn't understand it, Are teaching and learning philosophy/philosophies written combined/separately?
    – AlFagera
    Jan 31, 2022 at 11:19
  • Edited to clarify.
    – Buffy
    Jan 31, 2022 at 13:00

One's philosophy of teaching ought to be informed primarily by one's views of how people learn effectively, so a philosophy of learning will generally determine the philosophy of teaching. Consequently, it would be logical to write them either together or in quick succession, usually with your views on learning preceding your views on teaching. You have not specified any particular instructions you have been given to write these things, so I would assume that you have latitude to write the statements as you see fit, either as separate statements that follow in a logical order, or as a single combined statement.

One general thing to bear in mind for any faculty application is that you are seeking a position in part as a professional researcher/writer --- you should not need hand-holding on how many pages to use, what parts are together/separate, how to structure your writing, etc. If no constraints are specified then use your professional judgment on how best to write the statements in question and show that you are able to produce a clear and effective statement without detailed guidance.

  • I mostly agree (with the second paragraph), but for early career searcher, (like my case) this may not be the case. !
    – AlFagera
    Feb 1, 2022 at 8:55

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