Increase Understanding by Using The Three Levels of Learning

Levels of Learning

All learning is not created equal. Knowing the difference between the levels of learning, and how to properly use them will impact your bottom line. It is mission critical to learn how to properly apply these three levels, and this article will empower you with the information you need to get started.

The three types of learning are literal, implied, and inferential. Let’s begin by examining literal information. Literal information is the words printed on a page. It is often what needs to be memorized and often includes people, places, things, and their actions.  While memorizing vocabulary, names, numbers, and facts is a useful part of learning, it does not equate to understanding. Many people measure their learning ins terms of how many hours they study, or how many pages they read. What truly matters is having the understanding of how to use the information when and if you need it.  Literally learning is only the first step in true understanding.

Implied Learning is information that is not provided but is presumed to already be known by your associates. For example, if a passage says eat the orange.  The presumption is being made that you know what is meant by the words, “eat”, and “orange”.  While this is simple with these two words, some words can be viewed differently by various individuals based on their prior experience. For example, the word “marriage” can be viewed as horrific or blissful depending on your past experience. In corporate training it is important to consider how the varied experiences of your learners may cause them to view your information quite differently than the way you are expecting.  Learning to factor in the influence of personal experience during implied learning is critical.

Inferential learning is understanding the meaning and significance of what is being taught.  This occurs on several levels and requires some prior experience or understanding to be fully applied. For example, learners may need to change their view on a corporate issue based on new information.  A routine or technique that was considered sacred may need to be completely altered based on new findings. Inferential learning is the ability to take a new idea and apply it in a different way. For example, your learners read Trump’s book, “Art of the Deal,” and apply his business strategies for negotiation in an area that has nothing to do with real estate. The infer how to use his strategies in a totally different way. Finally, prior experience can determine whether the new information is useful to a learner. For example, an attorney will better understand a law change than a novice because of their background in law.  Their years of legal training help them understand nuances in the change that are not apparent to someone lacking their experience.

Knowing how much to learn at each level can greatly improve your associates learning efficiency. Here is a good example. Many people know that a clogged artery can be opened using a catheter which inserts a balloon. When the balloon expands the artery is opened. This is easy information to learn, and only takes a few minutes to learn. Now imagine you are the surgeon who needs to perform this technique. It can take years of medical training before you can successfully insert the catheter and open up a patient’s artery without harming them.

In business it is often sufficient to know that a solution exists you can use when the problem arises that is associated with it. Learning all the details before the problem occurs, or never occurs can be a huge time waster.  You need to know the details only when you actually need to implement them. Training your associates to know the difference between recognizing a solution and learning all the details necessary to carry out the solution can greatly increase your company’s efficiency and boost your bottom line.