Learning processes typically begin with taking in information through methods such as reading, listening, or observation. While such methods may be very appropriate as starting points, don’t mistake them for actual learning. Using these methods alone, a week later learners typically only remember 5-15% of what they took in. They usually don’t incorporate much of it into their behaviors or expertise. To achieve real learning—understanding, skill, transformation—incorporate active learning strategies into your process.
Expend Effort: Work to recall what you’ve learned. The effort required reinforces it.
Test Yourself: When reviewing, test your recall first before re-reading or re-playing material. This will help reinforce what you know, as well as identify errors needing correction and gaps calling for additional effort.
Picture: Images are more easily remembered than words. Create a mental or tangible picture of what you want to remember. Draw or sketch it. Imagine yourself doing it.
Individualize: Make new learning your own by thinking through its relevance to your own situation. Restate it in your own words. Give it meaning.
Relate: Compare new learning with something you already know. Identify ways it is the same, as well as how it is different. Come up with an analogy of something that works in a similar way.
4) Work It
Question: Be curious. Try to figure out how and why things work. Discuss or debate concepts.
Create a Model: Identify underlying principles and patterns. Create a diagram to illustrate them. Come up with an acronym, an abbreviation using the initial letters of key words, to remember the essential elements or steps.
Practice Mindfully: Break a skill or process into pieces and practice them separately. Work toward a specific improvement goal as you practice. Mix up the pieces and practice them out of the usual order; then recombine them. Frequent shorter practice sessions spaced out regularly over time are more effective than a long cramming session.
Generate Examples: Take principles you have learned and note how they apply in familiar contexts.
Take Action: Try out what you have learned in controlled experiments, role-plays, or simulations. Then undertake projects to gain experience with it in the real world.
6) Evaluate & Refine
Adjust: Gauge the results of applying your learning. Make needed corrections and adjustments. Look for ways to further improve. Adapt your approach to best fit your situation. Then apply your refinements, gain additional experience, and continue the cycle of development.
Integrate: Combine new learning with other skills and knowledge.
Build: Add on to your learning. Create something new with it.
Demonstrate: Model what you have learned. Teach it to someone else.
Own: Affirm your learning. Declare it outloud. Reinforce it. Celebrate your progress.
Extend: Reach for the next level. Look forward to anticipate possible future needs and applications.
©New Century Leadership LLC 2019. All rights reserved.