Activating the Adult Learning Process

  • Stimulating the Adult Learning Process Mastery Cognition
As the half-lives of institutions grow shorter, their leaders and policy makers seek science-based transformational strategies that ensure that purpose and direction for their organizations are not lost. When survivability seems threatened, the default solution is to do more with less. Organizational learning that increases the rate of learning and achieves mastery can result in more resilient, efficiently adaptable organizations. These outcomes allow thoughtful leaders to anticipate how individual team members would recognize change that affects them and predict how they might respond to adversity that they do not control.

Mastery is the outcome of a well-designed learning process that produces a new mindset, a better toolkit, and a more reliable yardstick for enabling individual performance and continual improvement. Since its inception, the Cognitive Performance Group has built its reputation for designing, developing, and implementing experiential learning solutions to achieve mastery of decision making and problem solving skills within complex systems. Our approach to experiential learning uses experts’ lived-experience as a source for constructing cognitively authentic cases for training.

When well-designed, these cases provide powerful tools for encoding information on individual mental models, which support decision making. Learning cases take into account best practices, strategies, and tools that highly experienced practitioners apply effortlessly to avoid common errors and attack complex problems in context. Our assessments of these learning outcomes reveal that much attention at the front-end is necessary to understand how adult learning takes place before we can claim to have produced that “ah ha” moment when mastery is achieved and can be demonstrated in an operational environment.

Learning Requirements and Outcomes of Mastery

The learning process is driven by learner expectations, instructional strategies, and goal-directed performance feedback. A vital part of producing mastery as a learning outcome is applying an understanding of how the best performers acquire their strategic job knowledge and abilities. In addition to understanding the learning requirements, effective training designers baseline their training audience.

Baselining defines what the learners know and how their use of existing knowledge might affect the desired learning outcomes. Unfortunately, performance baselining often means removing obstacles such as conventional wisdom and outdated practices before experiential learning can be implemented effectively. By baselining the learners and understanding how learners organize knowledge, training systems designers identify a construct of how learning takes place, select instructional strategies, determine how to measure the outcomes, and simulate how new knowledge will be applied. Within this objective framework, they identify the enabling or functional competencies and the operational knowledge, skills, and abilities that form the basis for high performance. In the adult learning settings where we find ourselves, learner expectations and motivations are predictors of success in learning.



About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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