How we Learn – Getting Information

How we Learn – Getting Information

We all perceive things differently. Ask four people who viewed an accident about what happened and it is likely that you will get four different answers. So, the next question might be: “Who got it right?” However, the real question should be: “When there was only one event, why would there be so many different answers?”

The reason is that the way we take in new information is shaped by our own experiences, our own unique “window” through which we view the world — and this means that human perception occurs in an infinite variety of ways. Jung originally defined these variations by identifying four basic functions which he said were opposing modes for making sense of the world – sensing, thinking, feeling and intuition. In 4MAT we talk about a range of preferences between experiencing/feeling and conceptualising/thinking:

Experience/Feeling—Perception through personal engagement—sensations, emotions, physical memories; the immediate; the self. This is an experiential form of learning

Conceptualising/Thinking—the translation of experience into conceptual form—ideas, words, visuals, hierarchies, knowledge structures and naming systems. This is an abstract approach to learning.

While we all have our own preference for a particular way of perceiving the world, the movement between the “feeling” part of experience and the “thinking” part of experience is crucial to the learning process. This movement connects the personal values, meaning and perceptions of the learners to those of the “expert”. When this movement is missing, learner motivation, engagement and transfer is diminished.

The first two steps of the 4MAT model are designed to lead the learner to internal reflection:

Take a look at the difference between starting your training with a feeling or a thinking task:

Feeling—”Reflect on a time when you experienced excellent customer service. Share your experience with a partner. Why did you find the service so good?” compared with

Thinking—”What do you think are the key components of effective customer service? Make a list of these at your table.”

Many of us find it easy to skip the “feeling” part of learning in the training process. However, when we begin training with a thinking task, we miss the opportunity to engage the learner from a personal standpoint and connect them to the information we want them to learn. This doesn’t take any longer during the training and can lead to deeper levels of engagement and motivation when it comes to the content delivery part of the training.

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