What We Know about the Learning Process

The convergence of intelligence theories and learning theories suggests similar methods for more effective teaching and learning. For instance, if we accept Gardner’s theory that the mind’s capacity for learning is much broader than traditionally assumed, we can probably go along with Kolb’s assertion that individuals have a natural ability to learn through a variety of methods. We can further conclude from the studies of Caine and Caine that connectedness is a key to effective learning. The following summary statements about effective learning are a distillation of the theories of intelligence and learning these researchers champion:

  • Most people learn best in a concrete manner involving personal participation, physical or hands-on activities, and opportunities for personal discovery. 
  • Learning is greatly enhanced when concepts are presented in the context of relationships that are familiar to the student. 
  • Most people relate better to concrete, tangible examples and experiences than to abstract conceptual models. 
  • Most students learn best through some sort of personal interaction with other students—through study groups, team learning, and so on. 
  • Rote memorization of isolated fragments of knowledge is a relatively inefficient and ineffective learning strategy for most students. 
  • Transfer of learning from one situation to another is not consistently predictable, and the ability to do so is a skill that must be learned.


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