Learn from neuroscience: how to create effective learning tasks

By William Seidman Neuroscience has shown that the most effective way to learn and retain what you’ve learned comes after short, frequent bursts of mental and physical repetitions of a key attitude, concept or behavior. Six to eight repetitions of the same idea, over a short period of time, create new neural circuits and new habits. The idea can be repeated in different forms or the same form. While it would work to read the same article six times, we have found it to be most effective to vary the activities by, for example, reading an article, writing something about that article, discussing the article with others, applying something learned from the article to a real situation, writing down what you learned and telling someone else what you learned. These six repetitions of a single idea would go far in creating long-term learning of it. When this idea is combined with other ideas and activities, the learner begins to create new positive habits. When transforming the knowledge and experiences of your positive deviants into learning tasks for others, two things need to be kept in mind. First, the learning tasks must help develop the desired attitudes and behaviors, which are gleaned via the positive deviants’ articulation of their understanding of why they do what they do, gained through years of experience. Second, six to eight mental and physical activities that teach or reinforce the desired attitude, concept or behavior for each Learning Task need to be developed. Well-designed activities are short, stimulating and focused. Their practical value is both obvious and immediate. They encourage learners to reflect, systematically and consciously, leading to deeper and more complete internalization. Performing these tasks in sequence provides hundreds of small, practical repetitions of core concepts—the core concepts that make people great in their roles and able to achieve the positive deviants’ larger purpose themselves.      ]]>

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