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From knowledge to action


What we learn is important, but even more important to adults is why we learn, and how to do it. Ruth Donde and Lettie Dalton take a look at what science tells us about the way we learn and why we need to keep on just doing it!

Information abounds in our hyper-connected world making knowledge more accessible than ever, yet who has time to truly learn these days? Knowledge is one thing—absorbing facts that you can read from books or from doing a Google search—but the most difficult problem with learning is how to translate this knowledge into action. When you think about some of your biggest learning experiences, I bet they weren’t something you learned in the classroom. Think about it!

The time of going into a classroom to gather facts and then regurgitate them is over! How much money and time is wasted by attending one-day training programmes? Take a training programme on time management, for example, where at least 70 percent of the time is spent being told about different techniques that you could use. If, in a month’s time, you asked the majority of attendees what they had implemented, the answer would be something like: “Oh, it was a good course, but I’ve been too busy to do anything with it.”

Much has been written about the ‘knowing-doing gap’, a term coined by well-known authors and teachers Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. They suggest we have a learning transfer problem. This can be due to workload, information overload, difficulty with making decisions during change, or lack of motivation to do so.

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