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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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 19, 2021

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

The list of teaching techniques is ever-expanding as there are multiple ways for us to gain knowledge. As a result, there are multiple techniques out there that leverage those particular skills. One such technique I want to share with you is learning by doing.

This technique has been around for a long time, and it’s a surprisingly effective one thanks to the various perks that come with it. Also called experiential learning, I’ll be sharing with you my knowledge on the subject, what it is deep down, and why it’s such an effective learning tool.

What Is Learning by Doing?

Learning by doing is the simple idea that we are capable of learning more about something when we perform the action.

For example, say you’re looking to play a musical instrument and were wondering how all of them sound and mix. In most other techniques, you’d be playing the instrument all by yourself in a studio. Learning by doing instead gives you a basic understanding of how to play the instrument and puts you up on a stage to play an improvised piece with other musicians.

Another way to think about this is by taking a more active approach to something as opposed to you passively learning about it. The argument is that active engagement provides deeper learning and that it’s okay if you make mistakes as you learn from those as well. This mentality brought forth a new name for this technique: experiential learning.

What Are Its Benefits?

Experimental learning has been around for eons now. It was Aristotle who wrote that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

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Over the years, that way of thinking changed and developed and for a time was lost once computers were integrated into schools. It’s only been in recent years where schools have adopted this technique again. It’s clear why teachers are encouraging this as it offers five big benefits.

1. It’s More Engaging and More Memorable

The first benefit is that it’s more engaging and memorable. Since this requires action on your part, you’re not going to be able to weaken your performance. This is big since, traditionally, you’d learn from lectures, books, or articles, and learners could easily read—or not read—the text and walk away with no knowledge at all from it.

When you are forced into a situation where you have to do what you need to learn, it’s easier to remember those things. Every action provides personalized learning experiences, and it’s where motivation is built. That motivation connects to what is learned and felt. It teaches that learning is relevant and meaningful.

Beyond that, this experience allows the opportunity for learners to go through the learning cycle that involves extended effort, mistakes, and reflection, followed by refinement of strategies.

2. It Is More Personal

Stemming from the reason mentioned above, learning by doing offers a personal experience. Referring back to the cycle of effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement, this cycle is only possible through personal emotions—the motivation and realization of knowledge of a particular topic tying into your values and ideals.

This connection is powerful and thus, offers a richer experience than reading from a book or articles such as this one. That personal connection is more important as it encourages exploration and curiosity from learners.

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If you’ve always wanted to bake a cake or cook a unique dish, you could read up on it or watch a video. Or you could get the ingredients and start going through it all yourself. Even if you make mistakes now, you have a better grasp of what to do for the next time you try it out. You’re also more invested in that since that’s food that you made with the intention of you having it.

3. It Is Community-Connected

Learning by doing involves the world at large rather than sitting alone in your room or a library stuck in a book. Since the whole city is your classroom technically, you’re able to leverage all kinds of things. You’re able to gather local assets and partners and connect local issues to larger global themes.

This leans more into the personal aspect that this technique encourages. You are part of a community, and this form of learning allows you to interact more and make a connection with it—not necessarily with the residents but certainly the environment around it.

4. It’s More Integrated Into People’s Lives

This form of learning is deeply integrated into our lives as well. Deep learning occurs best when learners can apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting to answer questions around them that they care about.

Even though there is a lot of information out there, people are still always asking “what’s in it for me?” Even when it comes to learning, people will be more interested if they know that what they are learning is vital to their very way of life in some fashion. It’s forgettable if they’re unable to tie knowledge in with personal aspects of their lives. Thus, experiential learning makes the application of knowledge simpler.

5. It Builds Success Skills

The final benefit of learning by doing is that it builds up your skills for success. Learning by doing encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, discover something new, and try things out for the first time. You’re bound to make a mistake or two, but this technique doesn’t shame you for it.

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As a result, learning by doing can build your initiative for new things as well as persistence towards growth and development in a field. This could also lead to team management and collaboration skill growth. These are all vital things in personal growth as we move towards the future.

How to Get Started

While all these perks are helpful for you, how are you going to start? Well, there are several different approaches that you can take with this. Here are some of them that come to mind.

1. Low-Stakes Quizzes

In classroom settings, one way to introduce this technique is to have many low-stakes quizzes. These quizzes aren’t based on assessing one’s performance. Instead, these quizzes are designed to have learners engage with the content and to generate the learned information themselves.

Research shows that this method is an effective learning technique.[1] It allows students to improve their understanding and recall and promotes the “transfer” of knowledge to other settings.

2. Type of Mental Doing

Another approach is one that Psychologist Rich Mayer put together. According to him, learning is a generative activity.[2] His knowledge and the research done in his lab at Santa Barbara have repeatedly shown that we gain expertise by doing an action, but the action is based on what we already know.

For example, say you want to learn more about the Soviet dictator Stalin. All you need to do is link what you do know—that Stalin was a dictator—and link it to what you want to learn and retain. Stalin grew up in Georgia, killed millions of people, centralized power in Russia, and assisted in the victory of World War 2. This technique even applies to the most simple of memory tasks as our brain learns and relearns.

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3. Other Mental Activities

The final method I’ll share with you is taking the literal approach—getting out there and getting your hands dirty so to speak. But how you go about that is up to you. You could try reading an article and then going out and applying it immediately—like you could with this article. Or maybe you could find further engagement through puzzles or making a game out of the activity that you’re doing.

For example, if you wanted to learn about animal behavior patterns, you can read about them, go out to watch animals, and see if they perform the specific behaviors that you read about.

Final Thoughts

Learning by doing encourages active engagement with available materials and forces you to work harder to remember the material. It’s an effective technique because it helps ingrain knowledge into your memory. After all, you have a deeper personal connection to that knowledge, and you’ll be more motivated to use it in the future.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take what you’ve learned from reading this article and apply that in the real world. It’s only going to benefit you as you grow.

Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

Reference

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