In the most basic sense learning involves acquiring new knowledge, skills and attitudes that result in some change in our ability to do something. In competence-based training we seek to promote a change that results in greater competence to perform certain desired work functions.
How do You Learn?
Much has been written about how individuals learn. What’s been your experience learning? How have you learned in different learning situations? I attended an Accelerated Learning Workshop and was taught how to improve my reading skills. The instructor introduced a theory about speed reading, gave us an example of how it worked and then had us do an exercise. I knew I could benefit greatly by improving how well I retained information and how fast I could read. Then he paired us with a learning partner and we did additional exercises around reading and retention and then discussed the exercise with our learning partner. I still use much of what I learned in that workshop today.
In our Train the Trainer Boot Camp, attendees will be pumped about learning techniques, tips and approaches that help get the learning on when they conduct training!
Learning is often for the practical purpose of developing competence in an activity. This could be work related, such as learning how to complete a procedure; or it could be for fun, such as learning to play a card game. Learning in these situations involves actually doing the activities, and improvement in performance requires practice over time.
All learning involves the acquiring of some knowledge, though the extent of this would vary depending on what is to be learned. Learning a new language, for example requires much knowledge acquisition. However, even in skill-based activities like playing tennis, there is still important knowledge to be acquired for effective performance, for example, the rules of the game. The key process in knowledge acquisition is memory.
Maximize Learning Effectiveness
However, the mere acquisition of knowledge in itself is often not sufficient for effective learning. Learners need to make sense of what they have learned and know when, where and how to use this knowledge. In most cases, understanding the information you have acquired is critical to effective learning.
Understanding involves more than memory; it requires us to think about what we are learning and make sense of it in terms of putting it to use. Without understanding how relevant the subject matter and the learning is, much of what we learn through memorization would have little use and is likely to be soon forgotten.
In real learning situations, knowledge, understanding and thinking are the primary components of learning. The three do not occur as separate processes, but are dynamic and mutually support the overall learning process. When we acquire more knowledge, think better about we are doing and practice more, we tend to become more competent.
Competent performance develops from the acquisition of appropriate knowledge, good thinking and doing – over time. Different types and levels of competence will require more or less knowledge, thinking and doing. Effective learners are competent at acquiring knowledge, developing understanding through good thinking and applying these in doing.
If you or someone you know is charged with making training stick at your company, share this blog with them!