The science of continuous learning

March 5, 2019

 “The ability to learn effectively might be the most important skill in life. It’s like the anti-Kryptonite. It gives you the almost magical power of being able to succeed in ​any field.” Ulrich Boser, the researcher behind this belief, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of “Learn Better.” Boser’s book offers different theories about how people learn. 

To test his beliefs, he surveyed about 3,000 people. Several lessons stood out, including that 90 percent of respondents believe information should be presented in their own learning style. Boser calls this a pernicious or flat-earth myth—one that is highly intuitive but wrong. 

We at Flex-Ability Concepts are not above new learning. In our front office and manufacturing facility, we all want to surpass what we already have achieved to work smarter and do more for our customers. If you are open to going beyond the old ways, consider becoming a new learner. It could make you a better boss, faster worker and successful business person.

The new smart

Boser makes the case for continuous learning and thinking deeply, which can be hard in our learn-fast, social-media-driven world. He recommends working on three strategies: metacognition, patterns and struggle. 

1. Metacognition

We are not perfect. It’s a true statement that many have a hard time believing. Metacognition gets rid of perfect and gives us a plan to learn. It involves setting out goals and monitoring your progress with different techniques to tweak your performance. ​You should check in now and then to see if your methods are working. Research shows those who use metacognition have 40 percent better outcomes.

2. Patterns

Analogies and patterns show connections. Boser believes successful learning involves looking for how things come together to discover what we really know. This thought process mixes up learning so you ultimately can learn more.

3. Struggle

Part of learning more means admitting that it’s a struggle. Ways out of a struggle include talking to yourself because it slows down the learning process and makes you think (and recognize patterns). Another thought is to add tests and quizzes into your repertoire. I know, groan. But they are a great way to learn and could easily be included in your workday with crews, especially new hires or when you roll out new equipment or techniques.

Be active

We spend our days being active, but are we active learners? Most of us just go through the motions and are not. Sometimes we have to shake up our workday and add a new learning process to get more out of ourselves so we can help others achieve more. So put down your highlighter (Boser says you won’t learn that way), take notes, talk to yourself, get things wrong and start learning. 

Boser writes: “It’s impossible to learn if we don’t want to learn, and to gain expertise we have to see the skills and knowledge as valuable. We have to create meaning. Learning is a matter of making sense of something.”

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