by Katy Mullin, Director of Course Development at Scitent
Traditional learning. We all know the linear routine. The teacher presents, and the student receives. The teacher presents an instructional unit, checks for understanding, tests students and moves on to then deliver additional instruction. The teacher presents the information, and the learners take it in and eventually repeat the information on an examination.
And, how is performance measured? In traditional learning it’s pretty simple: a student’s score is based on the average of all scores divided by the number of tests. The irony is that by definition the student is in the process of ‘learning’ but is still graded on the average of all scores during the learning process, not how they ended the course.
Now, enter the real world. Within professional organizations, 70 percent of knowledge creation takes place on the job, 20 percent through mentoring and peer interactions, and only 10 percent through formal instruction.
In contrast, performance-based instruction conforms to how we actually learn as adults. Approximately 80% of the time we are measured by performance. Were we able to complete the task or not? Grades? We are graded by what gets done, by our accomplishments.
Why is performance-based learning more appropriate?
We Learn by Doing.
Performance, rather than the acquisition of knowledge, is critical for adults. As adults, we are measured on what gets done, and most often, the measure of success in adult learning is one’s ability to complete a task – or perform on the job.
So, how do we move a learner to better performance?
One approach is through the application of Personalized and Adaptive Learning. In this approach, a learner’s competency is determined through a series of measures or assessments coupled with integrated, just-in-time, and corrective learning resources and feedback.
In contrast to the traditional learning unit (assessment, score and feedback), which repeats the sequence over a predetermined period of time, the Personalized/Adaptive Model sequence is assessment, feedback, focused correctives, and then we have the option to repeat the process until mastery of 100% is scored on the content.
In summary, if you want to move a learner from novice to experienced performer, you’ll want to consider these important course development components:
- Personalized/adaptive learning through mastery performance
- ‘Drip learning’ where bits of information are sent to the learner over time to increase retention and promote recall
- Learning communities that promote conversations about content, as well as ratings on content and suggested improvements.
We all have ample experience with performance-based learning. Unfortunately, it is not the standard in most classroom-based contexts. According to Scitent Instructional Designer Will Davis, “Knowledge dissociated from its use context is not particularly helpful. It’s the application, knowing when and how to apply the knowledge that counts.”