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Published on March 29, 2021

How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

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How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

Are you keen to learn new things but find it hard to do so?

Perhaps you lack the confidence to begin learning something new or you’re unsure how to improve your existing skills.

Let me state this upfront: Most people find it difficult to learn, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re one of these people.

And the good news is, in the next few minutes I’ll introduce you to the stages of learning. This knowledge will help you break through your learning challenges and turn you into a super-learner.

Let’s dive straight in…

What Are the Stages Of Learning?

There are 3 stages of learning in total, and each stage can be broken down as follows:

Stage 1: Cognitive Learning

In this first stage, known as cognitive learning, the learner observes and listens and makes connections based on knowledge they’ve already gained, either consciously or subconsciously.

Cognitive learning engages students in the learning process, getting them to use their brain to make new connections from knowledge already stored in their mind. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and improve comprehension.

Knowledge in this stage can be acquired through any of the following methods:

Implicit Learning

This takes place when the learner is unaware of the fact that they’re actually learning. It’s devoid of specific instructions, but instead, relies on visual and verbal cues — which usually take place in a social setting.

To give you an example of this, think of a child learning to speak. Typically, they learn the building blocks of their language (or languages) in a social setting without being formally taught by a teacher.

This organic form of learning leads to knowledge that is successfully retained over many years, regardless of any psychological changes the learner experiences.

Implicit learning is effective for skill reproduction and is also independent of IQ and age.

Explicit Learning

This takes place when a person actively seeks out opportunities to learn. Although — like implicit learning — this relies on visual and verbal cues, it doesn’t have to involve a teacher.

Take riding a bike for example.

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Someone wanting to acquire this skill might attempt to learn on their own by mimicking the actions of existing riders. These are visual cues. However, they may also ask someone for guidance on getting started. These are verbal cues.

Explicit learning is a great way to train the brain to learn new concepts and to solve problems.

Collaborative Learning

This type of learning is most commonly used in educational institutes. It involves collaboration between the tutor, the learner, and other students.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the process:

The tutor imparts knowledge and helps the learners to make sense of it. This usually involves the learners being asked to discuss the newly acquired information and to connect it to knowledge they’ve already gained.

Collaborative learning improves learners’ creative thinking, verbal communication and leadership skills. It also helps boost learners’ self-esteem, as well as exposing them to different points of view.

Cooperative Learning

In cooperative learning, students have to interact with each other and the tutor.

The structure is such that learners must follow their tutor’s instructions. The tutor will then observe and assess the learners to make sure they are learning the aim for skills and knowledge.

This style of learning works best when practical knowledge is being shared. For example, sports fields and music rooms are both excellent cooperative learning settings, as they allow tutors to give hands-on demonstrations as well as being able to watch their students try out their new skills.

Cooperative learning helps students increase their retention power, build relationships and boost their self-confidence. In addition, it offers opportunities for social support and helps improve attitude and tolerance towards authority and those who are seen as different to others.

Observational Learning

This style of learning involves the acquisition of knowledge through observation and imitation of others.

Many people are drawn towards this style. That’s because it makes learning an enjoyable activity, encourages social interactions and enhances memory.

Want to learn more about observational learning? Then check out our article: How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively

Meaningful Learning

This type of learning is the opposite of rote learning. It occurs when a concept has been understood fully and is being applied in practice.

For instance, think of a chemistry student who learns from his tutor that mixing certain chemicals can result in an explosive reaction. Once the student knows this, it will prevent them from mixing those chemicals in the lab.

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Meaningful learning requires the linking of new information to previously acquired knowledge. It is constructive and encourages learning through different techniques.

Stage 2: Associative Learning

This style of learning is where the brain is conditioned to learn or modify responses — taking into consideration stimuli offered. It occurs when old and new information is linked to each other, with ideas and experience reinforcing each other.

Associative learning emphasizes acquiring knowledge from the environment and reinforces optimal behavior.

Let’s look now at the different forms of conditioning of associative learning:

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is where the brain is trained to associate a certain desired consequence to an action.

For example, at work, it could be a cash bonus if an employee meets their targets. In the home, it could be extra screen time for kids if they finish their homework.

Classical conditioning can help to modify undesirable characteristics in the learner and can also be used to help overcome phobias.

Operant Conditioning

This type of conditioning follows the idea that certain actions will result when there is a punishment or reward at the end.

Just think of how school usually operates…

We’re rewarded with a certificate and qualification when we pass a course; but if we turn up late for lessons we may well be punished by being sent to detention!

If this concept sparks your interest, then be sure to read our article: Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Extinctive Conditioning

This is when the brain is trained to not expect a previously expected response when certain conditions aren’t met.

A rock band dropping a song from their live set due to it failing to enthuse their audience is a good example of this style of conditioning.

Extinctive conditioning can also be used to modify existing behavior that may be undesirable.

Discriminative Conditioning

This is where the brain is trained to reliably expect a certain outcome to a stimulus.

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A simple example of this would be training a dog to remain still at the command “wait”.

Moving on from associative learning, we come to the third and final stage of learning — the stage that gives a learner the most freedom.

Stage 3: Autonomous Learning

This is the stage of learning where learners gain knowledge through independent efforts and develop an ability to inquire and evaluate away from the influence of tutors and peers.

Learners at this final stage have enough knowledge and power to control their learning.

Typically, they look for sources that will help them make decisions based on their own understanding of the matter. In addition, learners at this stage take responsibility for setting their own targets and goals.

Autonomous learning causes learners to learn through their own will and passion. These learners have the freedom to create their own learning plan and strategies to achieve their aims. They’re also aware of their learning style and can self-evaluate.

Why Should You Care?

When you understand and apply the stages of learning you can expect to see many benefits, including:

  • Improving your memory
  • Boosting your confidence
  • Speeding up your learning time

It goes without saying that you’ll also be able to expand your knowledge and outlook, as well as being able to teach others, if that’s what you’re drawn to do.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to apply the stages of learning — then let’s jump in!

3 Steps to Applying the Stages Of Learning (Free Worksheet)

You don’t need to be super smart to become a fast learner. It’s actually a skill that anyone can learn. You just need to understand and apply the different stages of learning. Once you understand this process, you’ll be able to learn want you want — within the time you want.

Before I show you how to apply the 3 stages of learning, I recommend you download our free learning worksheet – you can grab it here: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet) as I’m going to walk through the guide with you:

Step 1: Name the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re taking up

Think for a moment about the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re trying to take up.

Once you know what it is, jot it down.

As an example to help get you started, let’s pretend that you want to learn how to drive.

Step 2: Break it down into sub-skills

When you’re trying to take up a new skill or knowledge, there’s definitely more than one thing that you’ll need to learn.

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Continuing the driving example, you’ll need to learn and understand the rules of the road and the practicalities of driving. These will include starting and stopping a car, clutch control, gear changes, braking and reversing — to name but a few.

And of course you’ll need to reach a certain level of driving proficiency to enable you to pass your country’s driving test.

So…

Please spend a few moments thinking about the sub-skills of what you want to learn, and then jot them down.

Step 3: Assess your personal inventory

In this final step, you should look inward and assess your own abilities.

This is essential to help you understand your current skills, and to see what you lack and what you can strengthen. You can also use this step to throw out limiting thoughts such as constantly comparing yourself to others.

Coming back to the driving example, you might spend some time assessing your current knowledge of road safety (you may already be a cyclist who knows the rules of the road) and your confidence levels.

To make this step easy and accurate, we’ve produced a free worksheet that will enable you to come up with concrete actions that you can take to bridge the gap between your current stage of learning and your target one.

Download the worksheet now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Bottom Line

Understanding and applying the stages of learning is sure to boost your confidence and speed up your learning. What previously took you months to learn; you’ll now find you can learn in just a few weeks.

With your mastery of learning, a whole new world of knowledge and skills will be opened up to you.

You’ll be able to learn a musical instrument or a new language. And if you’re already studying at college, you’ll be able to streamline your learning and get the possible grades.

Life belongs to the learners, so take control of your life and your learning by downloading our free worksheet right now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Happy learning!

Featured photo credit: Le Wagon via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 11, 2021

23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

1. Coursera

Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

2. Khan Academy

Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

3. Open Culture Online Courses

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

4. Udemy 

Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

6. Academic Earth

Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

7. edX

Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

8. Alison

Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

9. iTunesU Free Courses

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

10. Stanford Online

Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

11. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

12. UC Berkeley Class Central

Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

13. MIT OpenCourseWare

Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

15. Codecademy

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

16. Code

Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

17. University of Oxford Podcasts

The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

18. BBC Podcasts

For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

19. TED-Ed

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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20. LessonPaths

LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

21. Memrise

Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

22. National Geographic Kids

The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

23. Fun Brain

Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

The Bottom Line

With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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