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How Do We Learn – The 5 Basic Principles of Learning

From the time we are born, one of the most important mental functions we perform is learning. As a toddler, we learn to walk and to speak. When we start school, we master the alphabet, learn to make friends, and start acquiring writing skills. We then continue to learn various subjects, mastering a few, performing just adequately at many while failing spectacularly at some subjects. Why do we perform brilliantly at some subjects and fail miserably at others? How exactly do we learn? You can find the answers to these questions and more by understanding the 5 basic principles of learning.

  1. The Learn by Doing Principle: Ever heard that experience is the best teacher? What it basically means is that the best way to learn something is by actually doing or experiencing it. A good teacher or training program therefore uses learner involvement tools, such lab exercises, fieldwork, hands-on training, group discussion, role playing, and audio visual aids.
  2. The Learn When You Are Ready Principle: The best time for learning is when we feel ready and motivated to learn. If you are not motivated enough, chances are you’ll work half-heartedly. If you’re motivated, you’ll find something new to learn in whatever kind of job you do, which can ultimately help you achieve your career goals. An instructor can help students to become ready by letting them know the importance of the concept they are learning, its relevance in their lives, and the benefits they can get from learning it.
  3. The Learn What is Relevant Principle: It is easier to learn content that is meaningful and relevant to us than something that is irrelevant. For example, if you are learning to drive, it would make sense to learn basic maintenance jobs, like changing the oil. However, learning the whole theory behind how the car engine works would be of no use.
  4. The Learn by Association Principle: It is easier to start with something we know before proceeding to related, but new tasks. For example, when learning to draw, it is more effective to start with simple line drawings that we know and gradually build up to new and more challenging drawing styles.
  5. The Learn by Reinforcing Principle: Repetition helps in retaining and recalling what we have learned. Repetition reinforces a concept or skill in our minds. You must have seen the summaries, questions, and diagrams in books. That’s what they do. They reinforce.

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Leena T Pandey

I have been reading voraciously since the age of five when I first discovered the joys of reading. I would lap up anything in print. Unrolling an emptied newspaper cone with one hand, stuffing roasted peanuts in my mouth with the other, all the while devouring the printed content on the cone with my eyes, was one of my first experiences in hedonistic pleasure.
In fact, sometimes I feel that I am on an adventurous journey through the secret dreamworld of other people's imaginations, interspersed with occasional visits to my own life to attend events like graduation, first job, marriage, and so on.
As a true-blue reader, I think I am uniquely qualified to comment on and critique other people's works of labour. I can tell exactly what puts the average reader to sleep, what sets their pulse racing, and what has them salivating for more.

Write to me at leenatpandey@gmail.com.

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