The Cycle is the Key

The Cycle is the Key

The past few posts we have been looking at the various dimensions that make up how we learn. When you combine the perceiving dimension (how you take in information) with the processing dimension (how you use that information) you form the 4MAT cycle.

Learning is about recognising something new. We perceive this first through our senses, through some sort of direct experience and then we process this experience by reflecting on it. This leads to being able to generalise those experiences, to create mental models about how the world works and conceptualise them.

However, if I stop here I have only completed part of the process – to truly learn from this experience I need to do something with it – I must use or do something with this information or the learning will be lost. To do that I have to act on what I have discovered. I need to try it again to see if it happens the same way next time and then I can come back to the place where I started with a new perspective. I come back to the experience with a broader and deeper understanding and focus.
So the cycle travels from:

  1. experiencing, feeling something that is connected to our lives; to
  2. reflecting and then learning more about that through what experts have to say; to
  3. playing around with it and taking action, problem solving with our new understandings and finally to
  4. integrating that learning, refining it and using it in a way that generates results or changes how we used to do things before.

Using these 4 steps you have the foundation for designing any type of learning experience for any learner. It is a simple as asking yourself 4 key questions:

  1. Why does this learning matter to my learners?
  2. What do I know that they need to know about?
  3. How will they practise with this to demonstrate their understanding?
  4. If they have understood, what will be the result/outcome?

full-circle-with-arrowsThe challenge as a teacher or trainer (which we will consider next post) is how to manage the needs of the different types of learners as you move through the Learning Cycle. A good start is to create a balance in the teaching strategies you use in each step of the cycle between watching and doing and thinking and feeling.

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