2.1 The Power to Learn

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.”
— Brian Herbert

Questions to consider:

  • What actually happens to me when I learn something?
  • Am I aware of different types of learning?
  • Do I approach studying or practicing differently depending on the desired outcome?

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the stages of the learning process
  • Use Bloom’s taxonomy to interpret learning objectives and adjust your expectations accordingly
  • Explain the model of strategic learning

This chapter will help you to think more deeply and critically about your own thinking and learning. It will introduce you to some theories that help explain how people learn and how we can improve our learning. You will be able to think about your own learning in the context of these theories to identify your own strengths and areas where you can work to improve your learning process.

Stages of The Learning Process

The human mind is wired to think. Thoughts are constant and cross our mind at all times. “Cogito ergo sum.” This famous Latin phrase comes from French philosopher René Descartes in the early 1600s. Translated into English, it means “I think, therefore I am.” It’s actually a profound philosophical idea, and people have argued about it for centuries: we exist, and we are aware that we exist, because we think. Without thought or the ability to think, we don’t exist. Do you agree?

  • Thinking is the mental process you use to form associations and models of the world. When you think, you manipulate information to form concepts, to engage in problem-solving, to reason, and to make decisions.
  • Thought can be described as the act of thinking that produces thoughts, which arise as ideas, images, sounds, or even emotions.

Learning happens when we start ‘thinking about the thinking’. This process is called Metacognition. Metacognition is reflected in many day-to-day activities, such as when you realize that one strategy is better than another for solving a particular type of problem.

  • Metacognition is defined as the distinctive characteristics of the human mind that enables us to reflect on our own mental states.
  • Metacognitive knowledge refers to a person’s knowledge or understanding of cognitive processes. In other words, it is the ability to think about what you know and how you know it. This includes knowledge about your own strengths and limitations as well as factors that may interact to help or hinder your learning.
  •  Metacognitive regulation builds on this knowledge and refers to a person’s ability to regulate cognitive processes during problem-solving. You use metacognitive knowledge to make decisions about how to approach new problems or how to effectively learn new information and skills. This involves using various self-regulatory mechanisms like planning ahead, monitoring your progress, and evaluating your own efficiency and effectiveness in learning a task.

Example of how we use Metacognitive knowledge and regulation in the learning process

Let’s apply metacognitive knowledge and regulation to how you study for an exam. Knowing that your cell phone’s notifications tend to distract you from studying is an example of metacognitive knowledge: you are aware of your phone’s potential to hinder your learning. Metacognitive regulation requires you to take action based on this knowledge and would involve you making the conscious decision to put your cell phone where you cannot see or hear it or to turn it off completely, while you study. In doing so, you regulate your use of your phone to help yourself be more successful in preparing for your exam.

Metacognition explained by Dr. Saundra McGuire

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_b44JaBQ-Q


Bloom’s Taxonomy

In 1956, Dr. Benjamin Bloom, an American educational psychologist who was particularly interested how people learn, chaired a committee of educators that developed and classified a set of learning objectives, which came to be known as Bloom’s taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy divides the cognitive domain of learning into six main learning-skill levels, or learning-skill stages, which are arranged hierarchically—moving from the simplest of functions like remembering and understanding, to more complex learning skills, like applying and analyzing, to the most complex skills—evaluating and creating. The lower levels are more straightforward and fundamental, and the higher levels are more sophisticated. See Figure 1, below.

The New Version of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Source:https://flic.kr/p/9VzevX )

The following table describes the six main skill sets within the cognitive domain and gives you information on the level of learning expected for each. Read each description closely for details of what college-level work looks like in each domain (note that the table begins with remembering, the lowest level of the taxonomy).

Remembering Remembering may be how you studied in grade school or high school, but college will require you to do more with the information. identify · relate · list ·  define · recall · memorize · record ·
Understanding  Each college course will introduce you to new concepts, terms, processes, and functions. Once you gain a firm understanding of new information, you’ll find it easier to comprehend how or why something works. recognize · explain . identify · discuss · describe · review · illustrate · conclude
Applying  In college, you will be tested or assessed on what you’ve learned in the previous levels. You will be asked to solve problems in new situations by applying knowledge and skills in new ways. You may need to relate abstract ideas to practical situations. develop · translate · use · operate · organize ·  restructure ·  demonstrate · practice ·  show
Analyzing  At this level, you will have a clearer sense that you comprehend the content well. You will be able to answer questions such as what if, or why, or how something would work. compare · inquire · examine ·  categorize · investigate ·  experiment ·inspect · separate
Evaluating  At this level in college, you will be able to think critically, Your understanding of a concept or discipline will be profound. You may need to present and defend opinions. assess · compare ·  conclude · measure · argue · decide · choose · rate · select · estimate · validate
Creating  Creating requires originality and inventiveness. It brings together all levels of learning to theorize, design, and test new products, concepts, or functions. compose · produce · design · assemble · create · prepare · predict · modify · plan ·  document · arrange · construct · write

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DVecgNBPgM


Model of Strategic Learning

Thinking comes naturally. You don’t have to make it happen—it just does. But you can make it happen in different ways. For example, you can think positively or negatively. You can think with “heart” and you can think with rational judgment. You can also think strategically and analytically, and mathematically and scientifically. These are a few of the multiple ways in which the mind can process thought. To exercise metacognition is to think about your own thinking and cognitive processes. What are some forms of thinking you use? When do you use them, and why?

The Model of Strategic Learning presented here will provide a framework to help you make sense of all this thinking and act on it in ways that most effectively support your learning.

The word “strategic” suggests the execution of a carefully planned strategy with the intent of achieving a specific goal. The model of strategic learning, as outlined by Claire Ellen Weinstein, provides a comprehensive framework for developing appropriate strategies for learning given the unique conditions of each learner for any given learning experience. The model incorporates the learner’s skill, will, and self-regulation, as well as the academic environment they operate in.

  • Skill refers to the learner’s content knowledge, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and ability to employ effective skills such as goal-setting, active listening and reading, and note-taking.
  • Will refers to the learner’s state of mind. This includes motivation, how you feel about learning (ranging from fear and anxiety to excitement and joy), beliefs about your abilities, and your level of commitment to personal goals.
  • Self-regulation is how the learner recognizes and manages each of these factors. To be strategic about learning, you may exert self-control in the form of time-management, emotional control, seeking assistance, and/or monitoring progress; a learner who does so is more likely to be successful than one who fails to self-regulate.
  • The academic environment encompasses factors that are external to the individual learner but still impact the learning process. Examples include access to academic support resources, the requirements of particular classes or assignments, teacher expectations, and the social context in which the learner lives.
    Within this model, the learner is always at the center. Each learner is uniquely situated in terms of skill, will, and academic environment; it is also up to each learner to exercise self-regulation where possible to minimize or work around factors that interfere with learning and maximize those that support it.

Key Takeaways

  • Thinking is the mental process you use to take in information and make sense of the world. Thought is the act of thinking that produces ideas, emotions, etc.
  • Metacognition is thinking about thinking. It involves metacognitive knowledge (what do you know and how do you know it?) as well as metacognitive regulation (how do you use what you know to approach different types of problems?).
  • Bloom’s taxonomy divides the cognitive domain into six levels, based on the level of complexity.
  • Interpreting the learning skills in each of the six levels Bloom’s Taxonomy can help you understand the extent to which you are expected to learn and be able to use the material.
  • The model of strategic learning takes into account a learner’s skill, will, academic environment, and their ability to self-regulate given these conditions.

Attributions and References

This chapter contains adaptations from:

Bruce, L. (2016). College Success. Provided by: Lumen Learning.

Book URL: https://www.coursehero.com/study-guides/collegesuccess-lumen/

Section URL: https://www.coursehero.com/study-guides/collegesuccess-lumen/patterns-of-thought/

License: CC BY: Attribution

Bloom’s Taxonomy. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomyLicenseCC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

Image The New Version of Bloom’s Taxonomy by Andrea Hernandez. Located athttps://flic.kr/p/9VzevXLicenseCC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

Highlighted text definition sources:
Thinkinghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought (accessed on May 24th, 2022)
Metacognitionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition (accessed on May 24th, 2022)

Six Main skill sets in the Cognitive Domain defined in the chart accessed from; Bloom’s Taxonomy. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomyLicenseCC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Fundamentals for Success in College Copyright © 2022 by Priti Parikh, Centennial College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book