Friday, 2 March 2007

Studying and Learning

What is "study"? What is "learning"? These are questions which have as many answers as the number of people you ask.

From the web, here are a few worth noting:

To apply one's mind to a subject in order to acquire knowledge and skill.

the act or process of using the mind to gain knowledge.

survey: a detailed critical inspection; applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject (especially by reading); "mastering a second language requires a lot of work"; "no schools offer graduate study in interior design"; a state of deep mental absorption; "she is in a deep study"; analyze: consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning; "analyze a sonnet by Shakespeare"; "analyze the evidence in a criminal trial"; "analyze your real motives"; learn: be a student of a certain subject; "She is reading for the bar exam"; someone who memorizes quickly and easily (as the lines for a part in a play); "he is a quick study"; learn by reading books; "He is studying geology in his room"; "I have an exam next week; I must hit the books now"

From the paper "What do you do when you study?" Education students define study and describe their study strategies by Alex Radloff, Barbara de la Harpe and Irene Styles

What does “study” mean? Dictionary definitions of the verb, “to study” include, take pains to investigate or acquire knowledge of (subject); read (book) attentively The Concise Oxford Dictionary) and, attend to something with intent to understand it and to improve oneself in relation to it (English and English: A comprehensive dictionary of psychological and psychoanalytic terms). In the context of university, we can efine studying as a process involving a range of appropriate cognitive and etacognitive strategies and requiring effort and personal responsibility aimed at achieving ositive learning outcomes.

On Wednesday night, I attended a session given to my daughter at her school. The presenter summarised "studying" as the process when information is flowing IN, as in reading, listening, watching. To contrast, he said "learning" is the process of information flowing OUT as in summarising notes, doing exercises, solving problems. This is a very simple and effective way of explain this to year-10 students, I guess.

When I discussed this with my business partner Roni Linser, he suggested that learning occurs between information IN and information OUT. The doing of exercises and solving problems are demonstrations of the result of the learning. To him, learning is the "reflections" that occurs between the information IN and information OUT stage. "Reflection" is the catch-all word he used to describe a process we understand little. Connectivism may suggest that learning is the building of links among nodes. My catch-all word would be "integration" of the new information into the existing world view we already have.

I would also argue that "learning" occurs both at the information IN as well as OUT stages. Experimentation typically requires creating new problem (information OUT) and observe for the result (information IN). Good experiments are those that produce results which the current theory cannot explain. Gathering such counter examples pushes the limit of the existing knowledge and provide foundation for new theory.

What is "study"? What is "learning"? The quest goes on.

No comments: