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Published on April 15, 2020

Which Learning Approach is the Best for You? Here’s How to Know

Which Learning Approach is the Best for You? Here’s How to Know

As a person who is always looking for ways to enhance learning, it is a common occurrence that sometimes, the hacks and amazing tips you find online end up being useless.

What’s explained like it’s a magic trick does nothing at all. Instead of speeding up your learning, it even slows you down and makes things worse.

Does this mean that these online articles are lying to us?

No, neither are these articles false nor are the learning tips useless. The fault is in your choice of the learning approach.

Do you want to find out why and how? Well, you’re in the right place!

What is a “Learning Approach”?

A learning approach is a pretty self-explanatory term. Any learning method that you use to gain knowledge is a learning approach.

The difference here is that a learning approach is categorized based on the goals that it helps to achieve.

So, if a learning approach has proven to help memorize facts, it will be defined all around this characteristic instead of the way the brain work, the information is retained or any other scientific explanation.

Now what happens here is that a learner is expected to opt for a learning approach that suits the learning aims. This is what ensures that the process itself will prove effective.

Each learning approach is best suited for the respective objective and works seamlessly for the learner regardless of their learning style.

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6 Types of Learning Approaches

Since learning is technically boundary-less, it is only right if there are numerous learning approaches to match various learning goals.

It is best to be aware of all the available options so that you can choose the best one as per your objectives.

1. Behavioristic Approach

If you have a faint idea about the behaviorism theory in learning, you’ll understand this approach very easily.[1]

Basically, as the name suggests, this approach is focused on behavior for the most part. Any sort of learning that is aimed towards a change in behavior is learned best by this approach.

Several skills require a change in behavior rather than the retention of information. It is mostly used in practical learning.

The behavioristic learning approach emphasizes repetition and reinforcement. To elaborate, you can look at the 8 types of learnings introduced by Gagne. These include:

  1. Recognition: The stage where the learner gets a signal of new knowledge or occurrence
  2. Stimulus: The learner reacts to the received information
  3. Multiple discrimination: In this learning, the individual reacts but the responses are carefully chosen to be most relevant to the information received
  4. Concept learning: Based on the stimulus activated by the information, the individual understands the meaning instead of the information itself
  5. Verbal chain learning: Based on whatever information is received, the learner associates a certain verbal pattern with this new knowledge
  6. Motor chain learning: In this type of learning, the individual follows a chain of actions that they deem necessary
  7. Acquisition of rules: This is an extension of concept learning where the learner behaves as per the understanding by creating certain rules in their head
  8. Problem-solving: the learner creates rules after understanding the concept and then uses the entire information to come up with something creative

All these types technically define the types of behaviors that any new information can stimulate.

2. Social Learning

Social learning is very closely related to the behavioristic approach. In fact, it is an extension of the same concept.

However, the social learning approach involves the observations of others’ behaviors instead of focusing on the behavior of the learner. For example, children do what they see their parents doing.

This approach also emphasizes the fact that students of any age and in any environment will do as they see, not as they hear.

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Learn more about social learning in this article: How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster

3. Constructivist Approach

Constructing basic knowledge is what the constructivist learning approach is all about.

Skills that require the learner to be creative should be practiced using this approach. This technique puts a lot of focus on reflection and reevaluation. This encourages the learner to brainstorm by creating connections and links in their minds with prior knowledge. It also puts the learner in charge of the route that the learning takes.

4. Cognitive Approach

The cognitive learning approach is focused on memorizing and remembering. Don’t misunderstand to be a process of cramming information. Instead, it is a deep method that allows the brain to understand the information and then remembers it for long-term.

It is a great learning method to use for anything that involves the memorization of bigger pieces of information. But, at the same time, you want a solid understanding of every bit of knowledge that gets imprinted in your mind.

5. Experiential Approach

When you learn something by doing it practically, you are following the experiential learning approach.

There are various categories of experiences that teach you something. This may be an observation of an event, being a part of an occurrence, purposely trying out a new skill or process, or reflecting on any of these experiences.

Whatever the case, it is generally important that the learner is an important part of the experience. this leads to first-hand learning.

6. Humanist Approach

The humanistic theory is based entirely on the concept of goodness for all. It aims for a united world that is at peace, where there is an even spread of knowledge, and the learners gain skills and knowledge that have positive effects.[2]

Now, you may have already guessed that this approach works best for group tasks. Learning that has spiritual grounds or aimed towards a community will be done right with this learning approach. This technique starts by encouraging the learner to focus on the right versus the wrong.

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Moreover, the humanistic approach has two forms:

Pedagogy is the mere transmission of knowledge which is basic learning. However, andragogy makes things interesting by putting all the learning control in the hands of the learner.

Hence, this method is well-suited for leaners that are highly motivated and do not like to be controlled.

How to Apply Different Learning Approaches?

So, how can you put these learning approaches to use?

Well, the wheel is in your hand. You can use any of the approaches wherever you think they fit best. But, here are a few examples to give you an idea of what works best in which case:

Behavioristic Approach

This learning approach can be used for anything related to behavior. Improve your emotional stability, practice anger management or go for other self-help skills.

Also, tasks that negatively trigger you can be handled with this technique.

Social Learning

There’s a lot in this world that requires you to interact with other people. Any skill that falls under this umbrella is learned best by social learning.

If you want to learn PR management tactics or marketing strategies, social learning is a great option. Similarly, this approach is also a successful method to gain the skill of managing client services.

Constructivist Approach

The constructivist learning approach is useful for creative skills such as the production of a film or writing a novel.

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Cognitive Approach

Since this approach is aimed towards tasks that require memory, it is a wonderful technique to use in research.

Let’s say you wanted to create a business plan that would prove successful in the coming decade. You could use the cognitive approach to do some historical research and find out consumer behavior before finalizing your plan.

Experiential Approach

Anything that requires a practical outlook should be tackled with this learning approach.

So swimming, playing instruments, and painting require this approach. Even if you observed and memorized all the instructions, you’ll not do well unless you get in the field yourself

Humanistic Approach

The humanistic approach can be used in any skill, the only difference is that the learner is mostly in control. So skills that the individual is highly motivated to learn will work best with this approach. It works even better for community-based or spiritual learning.

Anything from cooking to coding to calligraphy can be learned with this technique as long as you’re ready to be in charge with responsibility!

The Bottom Line

Multiple learning approaches can be used simultaneously to learn one skill or fulfill one task. For example, the cognitive approach is suitable for learning chords of a song whereas the behaviorist approach is needed to actually play these chords on an instrument.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment and try out all the different learning approaches and techniques. As said before, there is no right or wrong. It all just depends on your personal style and goal.

At the end of the day, the learning game is all in your hands. You can boost it or leave it stagnant. The best advice for you is to avoid the latter. As you age, a continuous effort will keep you on the track to betterment!

More Tips to Help You Learn Faster

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] A Journey Through Psychology: Behavioral Approach
[2] web.cortland.edu: What is Humanistic Psychology

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively and Easily

Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively and Easily

You’re never too old to learn, and this isn’t just some fancy statement; this is many people’s motto in life. If you agree, there are various learning methods to help you ensure that you continue to learn day in and day out.

We have all been learning since childhood—our parents teach us morals, our teachers teach us math, society teaches us acceptance, our work teaches us how to do our job, etc. Even if you’re 70, life has a whole new book of things to teach you; you just need to have the heart and willingness to learn.

What you learn today will always benefit your current and future self. The question is, with such limited time in life, how can we learn effectively?

In this article, I’ll introduce to you the essential learning methods and some of the best ways to learn.

The Best Ways to Learn

There are so many different ways of learning, and here, I’ve handpicked some of the best ways that will definitely help you in being an effective learner[1].

Here Are The Best Learning Methods for Retention

    1. Your Comfort Zone

    For most people, staying in their own comfort zone opens their minds and helps them retain information. For instance, many learn and retain information when they’re taking notes on a piece of paper; others learn by watching videos and documentaries relevant to the topic.

    By finding out how you’re comfortable learning will surely help you in effectively retaining new information, and you will remember it for a longer period of time.

    2. Learning Through Play

    Just like children learning actively, you can learn through play. This doesn’t literally mean building blocks out of plastic Lego, but by implementing what you have learned[2]. If you’ve just learned a new way to make quiche, the best way of making sure you know it properly and remember it is by immediately making it at home.

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    3. Pass That Information on

    If you’ve learned something, avoid passive learning, and, instead, pass the information on to someone else.

    When you go through what you’ve learned and are explaining the process to someone else through this teaching method, you will learn and remember better.

    One study found that teaching information is so effective in introducing it to our long-term memory because it forces us to retrieve that information over and over again[3].

    In classrooms, there is a frequent activity of dividing students into groups, and one of them explains to other classmates what the day’s lecture was about. This not only helps the speaker understand concepts better, but when other classmates are being reinforced with the lesson, they also remember better.

    4. Rote Learning Is a Big NO

    Many people try to memorize word by word what they have been taught, as if they were sitting in a written exam. Teachers discourage rote learning in students as well because by only memorizing some words, the goal isn’t met. The main point here is to truly understand and connect the dots of what you’ve learned.

    The generation today has grown up with computers and is used to getting all the information needed at the click of a button, which means they don’t really absorb the true meaning of what they’re learning.

    Rote learning is just like that. You just pick up the information from somewhere and learn it word for word, which doesn’t really help you understand anything, only to memorize.

    Learning is all about being able to express what you have understood about a particular concept. It is being able to give your own opinion about a certain event, instead of just knowing the facts. Somewhere along the line, we do want to learn new things, but some of us have the attention span of a goldfish or simply don’t know the smart learning methods.

    Some people may be more receptive to one kind of method, and some to another. A smart person would try and find out which method of learning is best suited to them, and use that to enhance their learning process. The following learning methods will be helpful for you.

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    Types of Learning Methods

    Essentially, there are 7 types of learning methods that researchers have compiled over time. If one resonates with you, it’s likely that it’s your preferred learning method.

    Visual

    This type of learning requires visual material to understand. This could be in the form of videos, graphics, and images. This method helps people in visually understanding what they see.

    You may be this type of learner if you often imagine faces to remember someone’s name, use landmarks to give directions, or need to write down information to remember it.

    Aural

    This kind of learning style uses audio like music and sounds to understand. You may like this learning method if you often remember information after lectures or are good at memorizing the words to songs.

    Verbal

    This method is usually for people who like to speak and narrate their stories in order to learn. This can be done through scripted speeches, impromptu narrations, or even just daily conversations.

    Logical

    Many people like learning through logic; they won’t understand a concept if they’re just spoon-fed it.

    They want proper reasoning to why and how something happened for them to properly learn something.

    These people are often very good at forming arguments, problem-solving, and participating in debates.

    Social

    This is when people learn better when they’re divided into groups and are with other people. These social groups help expand their horizons and give them confidence to ask questions and solve problems.

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    Solitary

    This learning style is usually best for people who prefer to learn alone in a confined place that has no distractions whatsoever. They are either easily distracted with other people.

    Physical

    This is a learning technique where people learn through physical acts, like using their hands or simply by the sense of touch.

    This technique is used when a child actively participates in order to learn. For example, to help them understand what “fluffy” means, they are asked to touch a cotton cushion or a hairy cat. This is how children learn and understand better.

    However, many adults learn with this learning method as well. If you enjoy building or designing things, this may be your preferred learning method.

    What types of learning methods suit you better? You can find out in this article: How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

    In order to support any kind of learning listed above, you have to be physically fit and healthy. Your mind and body need to be nurtured in order for any kind of learning method to be effective. Here are some of the things that can be done on a daily basis to maintain a receptive mind and body.

    Habits to Help You Learn

    To be an effective listener, you also have to be able to retain that information. People learn new things every day, but only a portion of those people are able to remember what they learned by the end of the day.

    There are some tried and tested home remedies that have worked like a charm for people who are looking to enhance their memory.

    Sleep More

    An active brain is one that sleeps almost 8-10 hours a day. If you’re overworked and sleep for barely five hours, there are chances that your brain needs rest to retain information.

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    But if you’re somebody who sleeps for 11-15 hours a day, you may just be too lazy and need to engage in healthy activities to keep your brain active.

    Eat Healthy

    Include lots of protein and Omega-3s in your diet. Drink lots of water and generally stay away from refined carbs.

    You don’t have to quickly switch over to salads, but just generally try to adapt to a healthier eating pattern. Limit the use of alcohol and caffeine because they slow down your brain, causing a hindrance in your learning journey.

    Here are 15 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly to Keep Your Mind Sharp.

    Socialize

    By meeting new people every day, you’re not only giving your brain a chance to open up, but you’re also having your brain exercise by getting new information. Talking to people and engaging in daily conversations helps the flow of information.

    Do Activities That Challenge Your Brain

    If your brain hasn’t yet been exposed to challenges where you really have to think and work your mind, you may not be an effective learner, despite engaging in the above learning methods. There are many activities that increase your motor skills, like puzzles, mathematical questions, or even solving crosswords in your daily newspaper. You can also try these 11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory.

    When your brain is active and running, you possess a better chance of learning new things and actually retaining that information.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning has been a safe haven for so many people, whether it’s about learning to cook a complicated dish for a family gathering or simply about sewing a button on a shirt.

    The best among us are people that don’t let anything get in the way of their learning process; these people make it their life motto to wake up every day and learn at least one new thing before going to bed. And these people are all around us; we are these people.

    The knowledge we gain today can benefit our career, relationships, and our everyday life, so get started now.

    More on Utilizing the Learning Methods

    Featured photo credit: Sarah Noltner via unsplash.com

    Reference

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