Day 2. The 3 types of learners you need to know before starting teaching

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 7, 2024

My first tip is that you have to figure out who you are teaching before you can even start to build a lesson.

Research tells us that neurotypical adults usually go through fairly predictable stages of cognitive development. Not only do they accumulate more knowledge, but they also learn to think differently, so we have to teach them differently.

For our purposes, we have 3 stages: learners are novices, competent, or experts.

Knowing what stage your students are at will allow you to choose the best strategy to help them, making the best use of the time and effort you and your audience put into the teaching-learning process.

Learner 1: Novice

Novices don’t know what they don’t know of a domain.

Their mental model is not usable because it is disconnected: they may have all the facts and concepts, but they don’t all come together. We all know that feeling when we’re new to a topic; things are going around, but we’re not sure how they are related.

Your job with novices is to help them build a functional and useful mental model of a problem. You guide them by deciding what they need to learn next.

Learner 2: Competent

They have a mental model that’s adequate for everyday purposes.

Competent practitioners can do normal tasks with normal effort under normal circumstances and have some understanding of the limits to their knowledge. They have more connections, but it can take them several steps to get from what they know to what they need.

You will mentor them. They can make a lot of progress on their own, and the teacher’s role is to help them get unstuck or choose their next problem.

Learner 3: Expert

They have highly connected mental models.

Experts' mental models include exceptions and special cases, which allows them to handle unusual situations. They can go from the problem to the solution in one step. This is also what leads to expert blind spot: they can’t explain their reasoning because there isn’t any—and this is why they are often not the best teachers for beginners.

The most effective strategy for an expert teacher is to help them reflect on their own work.

Know your audience first or decide early on who your courses are for. Then prepare your pedagogical strategy and material to give them what they need to advance their learning without frustrating them.

What type of learner do you usually have? What strategies do you use with them?— Let us know!

Posted on:
May 7, 2024
2 minute read, 416 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee