The Learning Sequence (a.k.a., The Teaching Sequence)


"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand."
–fortune cookie from Chiang House
 
Instructors are sometimes frustrated when students don't carry out in their own writing the principles that have already been introduced in class. One way to increase the chances that students will absorb the material is to guide them through the learning sequence, which reinforces comprehension and skills. Students internalize knowledge best when they have the chance to build up their understanding and to translate concepts into practice.
 
Stages of the Learning Sequence
 
Define the principle (What is it? What does it do?)

Identify the principle within models (Where is it?)

Generate the principle (How do I do it?)

Receive feedback (How did I do?)

Refine principle and practice (When and why does the principle change? Can I generate these variations?)
 
 
The learning sequence gradually increases in difficulty; that is, it's generally easier to find something than to do it, and it's easier to think about prototypes than to think about exceptions and deviations. Begin with simpler tasks and move to more challenging tasks even within each step: locate the principle within straightforward models before locating it within convoluted models, for example, or generate pieces of a principle before generating the whole thing.

Obviously, using the learning sequence means less time (no time?) lecturing, and more student-dominated activity and discussion. It probably means that instructors can't "get through" as much material—it can take several days' or weeks' worth of class meetings to work through the sequence—but students are much more likely to understand and remember the material.