Engaging the Whole Person in Learning



Why is it that we spend so much on training (over $150 B in just one year, industry-wide) but see so little change? I watch instructional designers, trainers, and course writers work painstakingly to provide a clear message to the receivers, but then see the learning bounce and skip off, never fully landing at a level that creates true retention.

Using the phases of learning that Bloom presents in his cognitive taxonomy is a solid tactic for good instruction. However, this only represents different levels of head knowledge. How do you actually KNOW that learning goals have been achieved? Yes yes. I know. Metrics. Measurable performance. However, both of those still measure straight up head smarts. How do you know when the information transitions from external data to personal value?

The affective taxonomy often gets classified as the fuzzy bunny of learning, great for undertones, “but really, we can’t possibly measure against that.” Too bad! If we don’t weave affect into the learning design, our retention drops considerably.

Even the best-developed learning experiences (skill development infographic), regardless of whether it is workshop training, online module, micro-learning, simulation, scenario or problem-based learning… or any other delivery method… needs to go beyond head smarts and into what I call the humanity of learning.

When we try to “grab their attention” … it’s not about cute titles or making the exercise fun. It’s about figuring out where their emotional response is so that you can meet them there (discernment infographic). When you find that, you can then use the Receiving, Responding, and Valuing levels from this engagement infographic to start building the bridge to the next level.

When you take the time to discern where they are at and then engage with their current values, you can amplify the cognitive learning and get past the working memory to deeper value.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.