The Three Phases of Learning
by Susan J. Letham
depends on your ability to learn constantly. Some of your learning is
picked up along the way and some is seat- of-your-pants learning.
Either way, learning takes place in three phases. Understanding how
learning works-formal or informal-will make it easier for you to soak
up new skills and apply them successfully.
Learning takes place in three
most of us call "learning" is made up of a lesson phase, a learning
phase, and a practice phase. If you prefer you can call these phases
the "taking it in" phase, the "thinking it through" phase, and the
"putting it into practice" phase.
a little about the the purpose of each phase and the processes that
take place will help you gain the greatest benefit from your learning
experience in any field.
The lesson phase: Taking
lesson time you, the learner, are presented with new material and
concepts. The main purpose of this phase is for you to familiarize
yourself with new material and to absorb the text, images and
explanations your tutor considers most relevant to the topic at this
learning is listed as a separate phase, in reality, it begins the
moment you receive new input. At unconscious level, you'll be comparing
the new material with things you already know, looking for
similarities, contrasts, and connections.
need to be fully aware that you are being offered only one set of views
of the learning topic and that there may be other views. Take the views
you are offered at face value for the time being, but think them
through at all costs. Be ready to question them in the light of other
opinions and in the light of your existing knowledge and experience.
The learning phase: Thinking
doesn't happen during lectures or by reading books. It takes place once
class is over and your books are closed. Real learning begins when you
start tossing what you've read or heard around in your mind,
consciously looking for the matches and mismatches between it and what
you already know.
are many ways to do what we call "thinking." Not all learners think in
the same way: some like to ponder and imagine, others like to talk
things through with other learners or a tutor, another type of learner
may prefer to draw diagrams or doodle out mind maps to help her mull
over new ideas. Some like to think independently, others prefer to
think inside a structure at first.
main thing is that at some point in this phase you take the input you
picked up in the lesson phase, process it, and come to first
conclusions on three things: the validity of the input, the ways in
which it links to other things you know, and some ways in which you
think you can test or use your new information and ideas.
The practice phase: Putting
things into practice
The practice phase is where
you carry out the tests and try the uses you came up with in the
practice is more effective than random bursts. Try to set aside a
minimum of three 30-60 minute practice periods a week. Shorter practice
periods are unlikely to be helpful. It takes most people 15-20 minutes
to leave the busy world behind and slip into a state of mind in which
they can fully concentrate.
some situations your teacher or tutor may provide you with exercises
that help you practice what you've learned. The point of working with
the tutor's material is to gain the insight you need to understand how
the principles that underlie what you've learned can apply to a new
range of situations.
can (and should) try different kinds of practice to find out which
approaches work best for you. Some typical methods include re-reading
texts and notes, formulating questions about the material and the
thoughts you had about it, drawing pictures and diagrams to show links
between old and new information, and applying what you've learned to
doesn't end after the practice phase, though! The outcome of your
practice phase often becomes the input for the next lesson phase.
You'll cycle through these three phases many times as you learn,
integrating new material and experience in each cycle. By the end of
your learning experience you should have passed through the phases
often enough to have a clear idea of what you've learned, what you
think about it, and what you can do with your new knowledge.
© 2004, Susan J. Letham
Susan J. Letham is a British
writer, creative writing tutor, and owner of http://www.Inspired2Write.com . Sign up for classes and competent 1-on-1 coaching. Pick up your
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"Reprinted from Zongoo.com Daily Press & Consumer