Educators must remember that learning occurs within each individual as a
continual process throughout life. People learn at different speeds, so
it is natural for them to be anxious or nervous when faced with a
learning situation. Positive reinforcement by the instructor can enhance
learning, as can proper timing of the instruction.
results from stimulation of the senses. In some people, one sense is
used more than others to learn or recall information. Instructors should
present materials that stimulates as many senses as possible in order to
increase their chances of teaching success.
four critical elements of learning that must be addressed to ensure that
participants learn. These elements are
Motivation. If the participant does not recognize the need for the
information (or has been offended or intimidated), all of the
instructor's effort to assist the participant to learn will be in vain.
The instructor must establish rapport with participants and prepare them
for learning; this provides motivation. Instructors can motivate
students via several means:
a feeling or tone for the lesson. Instructors should try to
establish a friendly, open atmosphere that shows the participants
they will help them learn.
an appropriate level of concern. The level of tension must be
adjusted to meet the level of importance of the objective. If the
material has a high level of importance, a higher level of
tension/stress should be established in the class. However, people
learn best under low to moderate stress; if the stress is too high,
it becomes a barrier to learning.
an appropriate level of difficulty. The degree of difficulty
should be set high enough to challenge participants but not so high
that they become frustrated by information overload. The instruction
should predict and reward participation, culminating in success.
addition, participants need specific knowledge of their learning results
(feedback ). Feedback must be specific, not general.
Participants must also see a reward for learning. The reward
does not necessarily have to be monetary; it can be simply a
demonstration of benefits to be realized from learning the material.
Finally, the participant must be interested in the subject.
Interest is directly related to reward. Adults must see the benefit of
learning in order to motivate themselves to learn the subject.
Reinforcement. Reinforcement is a very necessary part of the
teaching/learning process; through it, instructors encourage correct
modes of behavior and performance.
Positive reinforcement is normally used by instructors who are
teaching participants new skills. As the name implies, positive
reinforcement is "good" and reinforces "good" (or positive)
Negative reinforcement is normally used by instructors teaching
a new skill or new information. It is useful in trying to change
modes of behavior. The result of negative reinforcement is
extinction -- that is, the instructor uses negative
reinforcement until the "bad" behavior disappears, or it becomes
extinct. (To read more about negative reinforcement, you can check
Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction Negative Reinforcement
instructors are trying to change behaviors (old practices), they should
apply both positive and negative reinforcement.
Reinforcement should be part of the teaching-learning process to ensure
correct behavior. Instructors need to use it on a frequent and regular
basis early in the process to help the students retain what they have
learned. Then, they should use reinforcement only to maintain
consistent, positive behavior.
Retention. Students must retain information from classes in order to
benefit from the learning. The instructors' jobs are not finished until
they have assisted the learner in retaining the information. In order
for participants to retain the information taught, they must see a
meaning or purpose for that information. They must also understand and be
able to interpret and apply the information. This understanding includes
their ability to assign the correct degree of importance to the
of retention will be directly affected by the degree of original
learning. Simply stated, if the participants did not learn the material
well initially, they will not retain it well either.
by the participants is directly affected by their amount of practice
during the learning. Instructors should emphasize retention and
application. After the students demonstrate correct (desired)
performance, they should be urged to practice to maintain the desired
performance. Distributed practice is similar in effect to intermittent
Transference. Transfer of learning is the result of training -- it
is the ability to use the information taught in the course but in a new
setting. As with reinforcement, there are two types of transfer:
positive and negative.
Positive transference, like positive reinforcement, occurs when the
participants uses the behavior taught in the course.
Negative transference, again like negative reinforcement, occurs
when the participants do not do what they are told not to do. This
results in a positive (desired) outcome.
Transference is most likely to occur in the following situations:
Association -- participants can associate the new information
with something that they already know.
Similarity -- the information is similar to material that
participants already know; that is, it revisits a logical framework
Degree of original learning -- participant's degree of original
learning was high.
Critical attribute element -- the information learned contains
elements that are extremely beneficial (critical) on the job.
adult learning is relatively new as field of study, it is just as
substantial as traditional education and carries and potential for
greater success. Of course, the heightened success requires a greater
responsibility on the part of the teacher. Additionally, the learners
come to the course with precisely defined expectations. Unfortunately,
there are barriers to their learning. The best motivators for adult
learners are interest and selfish benefit. If they can be shown that the
course benefits them pragmatically, they will perform better, and the
benefits will be longer lasting.