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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

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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 July 21, 2021

How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.) And that’s basically it.

Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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