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May 12, 2011

Seven Principles in Learning

1.      Feedback
2.      Active Learning
3.      Reinforcement
4.      Meaningful Material
5.      Multiple Sense Learning
6.      Overlearning
7.      Primary And Recency
1.       Feedback
This principle states: Learning proceeds more efficiently when both instructor and trainee give feedback to each other. The instructor needs feedback to tell him how the trainee is progressing; and the trainee needs feedback from the instructor on quality of performance.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Encourage trainees to ask questions
b.      Test frequently
c.       Maintain eye contact - this is a most important communication channel
d.      Discuss and correct errors; don't criticise them
e.       Give trainees knowledge of results as quickly as possible

2.      Active Learning
This principle states: Trainees learn more quickly and effectively when they are actively involved in the learning process.
The simplest expression of this idea is: We learn by doing. This applies equally to all forms of training.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Ask questions to stimulate thought
b.      Plan for exercises and tests in sessions
c.       Use projects and assignments to supplement lessons
d.      Use discussion methods from time to time
e.       Provide plenty of practical work
Beware of note taking as a form of Active Learning - the student's fingers may be active - but not their brains.

3.      Reinforcement
This principle states: Learning which is rewarded is more likely to be retained.
Of course this is how we train our pets and even our children.
Rules for the training room:
a.       When a trainee gives a right answer - tell him so
b.      Provide for early success in learning a new topic
c.       Prevent trainees from making mistakes as much as possible

4.      Meaningful Material
This principle states: Trainees understand (and therefore learn) material only when it is related to their existing knowledge. A trainee may be able to recall facts, etc., which he has committed to memory (by overlearning). But if you want him to comprehend the material fully you must give him a frame of reference into which he can fit these isolated bits of information so that a pattern develops in his mind.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Pitch your sessions at the students level, not yours
b.      Present the topic in a definite form or sequence
c.       Use plenty of examples, illustrations, analogies, and anecdotes
d.      Always move from the know to the unknown; that is, begin with what the student already knows or has experience.

Don't make the mistake which one writer has described as follows:
'Many teachers plunge ahead from a starting point that many of their students have never reached and they then proceed to teach the unknown by means of the incomprehensible'.
Pressey, Robinson & Horrocks -
'Psychology in Education'.
e.       Make your material as concrete as possible, avoid abstractions
f.       Find out what your trainees already know or have experienced before

5.      Multiple Sense Learning
The principle states: Presentation methods which use two or more senses are more effective than using one sense only.

The Chinese proverb 'one picture is worth a 1,000 words', is another way of stating this principle. It appears that the most important senses for information and theory learning are SIGHT and HEARING. But don't forget the others - particularly if you are teaching a physical skill.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Combine telling and showing - don't rely on one only
b.      Provide audiovisual aids for every session you give
c.       Make certain that you and your aids can be, and are, easily seen and heard
d.      If you have a model as one of your aids, let the trainees handle it as well as see it and hear you talk about it

6.      Overlearning
This principle states: Forgetting is reduced significantly by frequent attempts at recall of learned material.
We have discussed how quickly forgetting sets in, and illustrates how frequent revision can help trainees to retain larger amounts of what they have learned. This applies particularly to the learning of factual material or 'information'.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Ask frequent questions
b.      Provide exercises which force trainees to recall previous learning
c.       At the start of each session, ask trainees to summarise briefly the previous session
d.      Include review periods in your timetable
e.       Train your trainees to use overlearning during their private study
f.       Supply summaries of session material

7.      Primacy And Recency
This principle states: Trainees can recall well those things they learn first and last in sequence.
'First impressions are lasting' sums up the principle of Primacy; the principle of Recency is almost axiomatic.
These principles are not true under all conditions and sometimes they act against one another, such as when our most recent impressions change or blot out our first impressions.
Rules for the training room:
a.       Give a preview of the session
b.      Summarise the important points of the session at the end
c.       Prepare carefully what you are going to say and do during the first few minutes of the session
d.      Remind trainees from time to time of the sequence in which they have learned a topic

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