Our Definition of Learning


Learning is a personal life-long process of acquiring, developing and consolidating knowledge, skills and understanding. Learners engage with and reflect upon information and experiences to construct new, or modify existing, understanding, as well as develop and apply personal, social, physical and academic skills and qualities.


We have arrived at our definition as a result of an informed acceptance of the following:


  • Learning is a result of neuronal behaviour in the brain (extending and consolidating our neuronal constellations).
  • Learning is a process. It has a start point and an infinite number of recognisable end points, depending on what we are learning, and at what stage. We characterise this process as a move from Beginning, through Developing level, to Mastering.
  • Learning happens in distinct stages. We call these stages New Learning and Consolidated Learning. Sometimes, when we are either Treading Water or Drowning, it doesn’t happen. 
  • There are different kinds of learning: Knowledge; Skills; Understanding; these are all learnt, taught and assessed differently.
  • Learning is affected in each individual by different factors.


Categories of How We Learn

New Learning: When we learn something we didn't know before. New Learning is often insecure, fuzzy and unstable.


Consolidated Learning:  When the New Learning becomes more secure, and eventually automatic and established.


If neither of these kinds of learning are taking place, learners may be:


Treading Water:  Doing something they already know - they are doing, not learning.


Drowning:  In a state of uncertainty or confusion - for any number of reasons the learning has become confused before it has had a chance to become Consolidated.


Categories of What We Learn

Knowledge:  We 'know that ......'. Knowledge is largely factual, can be right or wrong and so is easily assessable.


Skills:  We ‘know how to …’. Skills are largely practical, developmental, and can only be effectively

assessed in context.


Understanding:  We 'know why ...'. Understanding is complex, multi-dimensional, personal, and difficult to assess and evaluate.


Categories of Performance Levels

Beginning:  The first recognisable performance of a given learning outcome.


Developing: A mid-point performance of a given learning outcome.


Mastering: The largely successful performance of a given learning outcome.


The crucial thing about these is that they are relevant to any stage of performance development.