Choosing a Learning Strategy
14 October, 2010
The way in which a learner absorbs knowledge depends on the type of knowledge presented. Procedural, declarative, strategic and factual knowledge are all integrated differently.
Factual knowledge is concrete, uncontentious facts that can be transmitted easily by a presentation strategy. Often, this type of knowledge is used to inform someone rather than teach them, so the presentation is well suited to this type of knowledge. In addition, factual knowledge is the easiest type to integrate.
Procedural knowledge varies in complexity, depending on whether the procedures are concrete or abstract. To allow the learner to integrate procedures as effectively as possible, we recommend creating a learning environment where they can be practised. This can be achieved directly or through a simulation. For example, we could train someone to create a mailing list with a software package by creating a simulated database. This would allow the learner to manipulate data without jeopardizing the integrity of system data.
The complexity of declarative knowledge (concepts) also varies with the degree of abstraction. It is much easier to understand the concept of exponents than it is to understand the concept of logarithms, even though the two are closely related. An effective way of addressing these concepts is to describe their attributes and provide a large number of examples and counter examples, making it easier to classify them. Mastering a concept is about recognizing its attributes and properties and being able to identify whether or not a fact belongs in this class. The classification and identification of properties are the best activities to facilitate the integration of concepts. Despite its inherent limitations, the analogy is also a powerful tool, as is the Socratic dialogue, especially when it is presented in written format.
Strategic knowledge is probably the most difficult to comprehend. Because it deals with the “When” and the “Why” of a given subject, it is often associated with a large amount of field experience. To make learning as efficient as possible, the learner must be able to test this knowledge. Simulations provide an invaluable asset and are particularly useful for this type of knowledge.