Research in current learning theory highlights the importance of using the learning process to determine the architecture of courses – rather than the structure of the content driving the architecture. It also demonstrates that there are four main phases in the learning cycle.
The four main phases of the learning cycle are:
1. Review: Sets the context and helps the learner bridge prior knowledge through an understanding of a broader context for new knowledge. Krathwohl’s Affective Domain Taxonomy can be taken as the benchmark model.
The role of phase 1 in the learning process is to influence the attitudes, values and beliefs of the learner to create “anticipatory set” for learning key concepts and principles in phase 2. Phase 1 may include a pre-test of prior knowledge and also may include activities. This phase may be called: Background, Introduction, Context, Reflection or another named deemed appropriate to the course goals. This phase answers the question “Why?”
2. Learning: The second phase is the Information Transfer or Knowledge Acquisition phase. Blooms Cognitive Domain Taxonomy can be taken as the benchmark model.
Phase 2 provides core content of the course. Core content may be procedural/process based, or concept/principle based. Phase 2 will be the largest section of “tutorial” or information transfer based courses. It may contain activities, exercises and tests. This phase answers the questions “What?”
3. Application: The phase 3 will consist of case studies or best practices or applied exercises. During this phase, learners develop an understanding of how to apply the new knowledge and skills in a generalized way and may be given an opportunity to practice skills. Problem-solving and decision-tree learning are appropriate learning models for Application
Phase 3 provides demonstrations of the application of the knowledge. This may include best practices, scenario/case study presentations or activities and/or case study exercises. Phase 3 may be called Cases, Case Studies, Scenarios, Activities, Application or another name deemed appropriate for the course goals. It answers the question “How?”
4. Adaptation: The last and the most important phase for performance improvement, which completes the learning cycle. The Accommodation Process is critical to improve performance because it is during this phase that the learner develops an understanding of how to apply the new knowledge and skills to the actual work context of the learner and is provided with the means to support transfer.
Phase 4 provides direction and support to help the learner transfer the new knowledge to his or her own performance context needs. It may include Job Aids, Guides and Guidelines, Checklists, Criteria lists, team or follow-up activities or Toolkits that include templates or forms. This phase may be called Adaptation, Getting There, Toolkit, Job Aids, Tools, Extension or another name deemed appropriate for the course goals. It answers the question “Now what?”