LTCA Theory

As I’m porting over CECS 6020 from Canvas to Blackboard, I’m learning more about the Learning and Teaching as Communicative Actions (LTCA) theory, the theory based upon which the course was built. It argues that learning and teaching cannot take place without communication, and that different perspectives are necessary to draw accurate and valid conclusions and shared understanding. The theory builds upon Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action, which identifies four types of communicative actions: strategic action, normative action, constative action, and dramaturgical action; “in LTCA theory, each of these actions underpins how teaching and learning are constructed” (Warren & Wakefield, 2012, p. 101).

Normative communicative action involves the negotiation of norms and classroom rules to support learning. Strategic communicative action involves sharing knowledge and facts that have already been challenged and validated by society. Constative communicative action involves providing opportunities for critical discussions in order for learners to share perspectives, challenge claims, and construct knowledge, and last but not least, dramaturgical communicative action involves providing opportunities for students to express their understanding of a subject in their own unique way in a form that can be critiqued (Wakefield, Warren, & Alsobrook, 2011, p. 24).

The LTCA theory was first defined by Scott Warren and Richard Stein in a chapter titled “Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play” in the book Digital Simulations for Improving Education (Wakefield, Warren, & Alsobrook, 2011, p. 22). Dr. Warren is actually the designer and instructor of CECS 6020. As a result, it is helpful for me to understand the instructional design principles of LTCA theory.

Each week’s module includes goals, objectives, and directions with parenthetical information specifying the type of communicative action (and thus the intent). For example, in week one, one of the class discussions focuses on what the “class norms for behavior, group interactions, classroom interactions (including set synchronous meetings), grading, and feedback will be for the semester.” “Normative” and “constative” appear in parentheses to relay the instructional design principles behind the assignment. Weekly blog assignments appear with “dramaturgical” in parentheses. My having a basic understanding of the LTCA theory allows me to recognize the purpose behind each component of the course so that I can better serve my client in making improvements. Otherwise, I might erroneously make a recommendation that does not align with the instructional goals.


Wakefield, J.  S., Warren, S. J., & Alsobrook, M. (2011). Learning and teaching as communicative actions: A mixed-methods Twitter study. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 3(4), 17–39.

Warren, S. J., & Wakefield, J. S. (2012). Learning and teaching as communicative actions: Social media as educational tool. In Seo, K. (Ed.), Using social media effectively in the classroom: Blogs, wikis, Twitter, and more (pp. 98–113). Routledge/Taylor & Francis.