back Teaching & learning principles

If you are new to teaching you may be interested in learning about some of the principles of learning. These principles have been developed by educational psychologists. Edward Thorndike developed the three principles of learning called readiness, exercise and effect. Other educational psychologists who have contributed to these theories are Fuchs, Alfred H and Katherine S. Millar. They will help you structure effective training sessions.

The basic laws of learning can be summarized as:

  • Readiness
  • Exercise
  • Effect
  • Primacy
  • Recency
  • Intensity 
  • People learn best when they are mentally and emotionally ready to learn. 
  • You can help people to learn by showing them the purpose of learning.
  • Purpose gives people motivation.
  • Providing challenges to the learner keeps them engaged in the learning process.
  • Lessons should always have a clear objective.
  • Students need to be in good health, be well rested and free of stress to be ready to learn.
  • Create a safe environment for people to learn. Let them know it’s all right to takes risks and ask questions.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Activities should be repeated in many different forms.
  • The most important element of practice is that the activity must be meaningful.
  • Activities should be given a real-life context when possible.
  • Giving positive feedback to the learner improves motivation to practice.
  • Students need to apply their knowledge in different circumstances.
  • People learn better if they enjoy the process of learning.
  • Structure exercises so that people can see their own improvements over time.
  • If learners can see that they have learnt new things, it increases their enjoyment and therefore it increases their motivation to keep learning.
  • It is important to sequence learning.
  • The foundations of knowledge must be laid down in the right order for the learner to build upon their understanding.
  • It is important to make a lesson plan so that you can be clear about how to structure the learning activities.
  • At the end of each training session, summarize the main points of the lesson.
  • Repeating the main points helps the student to remember them.
  • Make activities that are close to real-life experience.
  • Making the activities exciting or dramatic will help learners remember what they learnt.
  • Engaging students in activities such as role playing, demonstrations and real life tasks all help the student to remain engaged in learning.
  • It is a good idea to use teaching techniques that stimulate the student’s senses such as hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, rhythm and perception.
  • Learning takes place through a variety of modes including images, text, interactive activities, sounds and symbols. Not just through listening to words.