Caravirtual's Blog

a blog about microblogging and personal learning environments (university seminar)

Task #6 Holzkamp´s learning theory (english version) 08/07/2009


In Task #6 we should research for a theory, which fits to “educational (micro)blogging”. Then we are supposed to develop a small usecase for our future pedagogical field of practice using this theory. I opt for the “Subjektwissenschaftliche Lerntheorie” by the german psychologist Klaus Holzkamp.

The Theory

The “Subjektwissenschaftliche Lerntheorie“ is a learning theory from the standpoint of the subject. Holzkamp´s theory is based on the question, what kind of intentions the learners have.

According to Holzkamp learning is a main ability to cope with life, which happens when a subject (learner) encounters resistance during learning. Learning results from the discrepance between will, aim and ability. (cf. Holzkamp 2004, p. 29f.)

If the individual ability is not sufficient to solve the problem, one needs to adopt something new. The person now has problems in acting, which he cannot resolve with available abilities. The problems of acting turn out to a problem of learning. To cope with the latter you need to set a kind of intermediate step, which is called “Lernschleife” (learning-loop) by Holzkamp. This results in a learning process, which can proceed in many different ways. (cf. Holzkamp 1995, p. 445f.)

Holzkamp decides between two ways of learning. On the one hand is the accidental learning, on the other hand is an intentional learning, which means that an arranged learning occurs, because the person has to do it to achieve one´s aim. (cf. Holzkamp 2004, p. 30f.)

A learning act can have different character: defensive or reflationary. A defensive learning act exists if the aim implies an avoidance of interference and menace or if the person uses a strategy of refusing.

The aim of a reflationary learning act is the expansion of the own knowledge and appears i.a. with a request for help. Is the learning act successful a knowledge expansion arises. Holzkamp calls this “Weltverfügung” (world disposition). (cf. Holzkamp 1995, p. 448f.)


Holzkamp, Klaus (1995): Lernen. Subjektwissenschaftliche Grundlegung. Frankfurt am Main/ New York. Kap. 4.

Holzkamp, Klaus: Wider den Lehr-Lern-Kurzschluß. Interview zum Thema Lernen. In: Faulstich, Peter/ Ludwig, Joachim (Hrsg.) (2004): Expansives Lernen. Hohengehren, S. 29-38.

The Usecase

Imagine pupils write a blog with a relevant content. They write some blogentries and maybe also take a note of their problems with the theme or technology. Therefore the problems of learning were documented automatically and the engaged learning loop could be visible for the owner of the blog himself and his teacher, too.

You can probably analyse on the basis of the blogentry, if it is intentional or accidental learning.

The pupil could survey his own blogentry and thereby look on the current problems to get a clearer view and more distance to the problem. His previous acting could be reflected and causes of the problems would be clarified. One´s own failing show up and should be reflected in another context to negotiate it. The problem of acting can be taken over consciously as the problem of learning. In this manner, their own preconditions of action could improve.

Other people, for example classmates, can add comments to the blogentries to give suggestions or support. That can inspire the learning process.

During the learning loop, “Twitter” could also be used to get fast answers to the own questions or problems. But maybe the limitations of 140 characters at Twitter could be too less to describe the problem.

In my opinion the step of verbalisation or rather transforming the present problem of learning into a written form is already a learning process, because you deal with it.