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Published on December 2, 2019

How to Learn Faster with a Feedback Loop

How to Learn Faster with a Feedback Loop

Learning is a crucial part of life. As the saying goes,

“You stop living the day you stop learning.”

It takes learning to be fulfilled in your career and business. Learning is also a cure for depression and discontentment concerning your career pursuit.

Learning is a skill that you need to cultivate all through life. If you want to master any knowledge or skill, you need to learn how to learn.

Without an effective learning process, you may end up repeating the same learning styles with no significant impact on your personal growth and development.

I know a friend who has a natural ability to compose songs. He always tells me he would love to play those songs on the piano but lack time to learn how to play the piano. Even if he wakes up one day with the ability to play that musical instrument, without practicing and spending time on the keyboard, he will never know how to run a simple chordal progression.

You will continue to have a limited time as you progress on your career pathway. So, what can help you evaluate your learning strategies and adjust where necessary?

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A feedback loop.

What Is the Feedback Loop?

The feedback loop is a process whereby a learner appreciates the information about their performance and leverages it to optimize the quality of their learning methods or style.

Here’s a breakdown of this definition:

  • Learner: The focus is on what the learner can do instead of the comments. Several parties could provide relevant feedback, and those parties include the teacher, the learner, his or her peers, or automated systems.
  • Appreciation: This is a major setback in feedback design. How do we appreciate or make sense of a concept? What are the skills required by the learners for learning to take place? What characteristics of the process enhance adequate appreciation or sense-making?
  • Information: What sort of feedback or information is relevant to the learners?(Individualized, detailed, personalized, multiple sources, task-oriented, thinking oriented, etc.)
  • Performance: Should feedback be on a single performance or the total performance?
  • Effect: How does the learner measure the impact of the feedback?
  • Quality: Feedback details need to focus on improvement. What would be the benchmark?

The purpose of a feedback loop is to establish a progression in learning. It will frequently occur in all subject areas.

How to Create a Feedback Loop

You can organize the feedback process by following the steps below.

1. Establish Goals and Definite Outcomes

Define your learning goals, the proficiency level you aspire to attain, and when you desire to gain the competencies.

You can utilize a S.M.A.R.T goal technique in establishing your goals. Remember, goals are mental signals that inform you of the direction you want to go. The results or outcomes are the ends-the actual reward of the labor.

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Specify the outcomes of your learning activities to make informed decisions on what you intend learning, how you will learn it (online education, self-education, or classroom learning), and why you desire to learn.

2. Start from the Simple to Complex Elements

Unrealistic expectations are the biggest challenge that causes learners to give up. If you don’t want to sign up for failure before you ever start, begin with the simple elements instead of jumping to the complex concepts.

Failure is imminent when you skip the smallest concept and take on new learning tasks with an expectation of completing the new skill in a short timeframe. Set realistic time frames if you don’t want to be frustrated, get burnt out or drive yourself insane.

Always recall the Japanese ‘Kaizen’ concept, which says,

Make small improvements every day.

It takes consistency and accumulation of smaller steps to achieve a bigger learning goal. We achieve giant strides when we are motivated during the learning process

3. Test Yourself

You need to evaluate yourself to know if you are learning or wasting time. Tests, not necessarily in the form of examination, will offer a proof of concept that check if your learning style is effective.

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Here are some ways to test yourself:

  • Conduct an in-depth discussion on the subject
  • Receive positive reviews on a job that leverages the new skill
  • Estimate the task efficiency before gaining the expertise and after learning the skill
  • Participate in an online test to test your knowledge
  • Take online courses to check your previous knowledge and discover any knowledge gap

4. Teach Others

This strategy has worked for me several times. If you want to learn faster, find someone to teach that knowledge you have gained.

Teaching is also a learning strategy. It compels you to unleash your ingenuity and view the concepts from different perspectives. You simplify complex concepts to help the learner understands when you teach. This also solidifies the knowledge you have gained as you remember and organize your learnings into different learning compartments.

As Albert Einstein said,

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

5. Reflect

No one wants to waste time utilizing a learning style or learning in a way that produces no significant learning outcome. So by doing a self-reflection, you identify the challenges you have throughout the learning process.

Ask yourself: How far have you progressed towards the learning goal? Do you think you can move to a higher aim or proficiency level?

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6. Find a Mentor

Mentorship is resourceful. A mentor will guide you on how to grasp a concept faster and holistically. They can utilize real-life experiences and ideas you will not find in courses and books. They can also easily detect the gaps in your skillset.

Not only that, mentors can inspire you when you face daunting challenges. They can remind you of your previous achievements and show you the capabilities that you possess. Most times, we forget our capabilities and focus on our weaknesses.

This article can help you find a suitable mentor: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your feedback loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors:

  • Consistency
  • Speed
  • Accuracy

If you want to learn more about this, make sure you go through this article to make your learning feedback loop effective:

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want with a Feedback Loop

Bottom Line

Feedback becomes a crucial component of continuous growth and development when a culture of learning and growth is created. With the feedback loop, you can learn new goals while working on models to apply feedback throughout the learning process.

More About Learning Faster

Featured photo credit: Humble Lamb via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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