Leslie Owen Wilson, 1997,
Newer Views of Learning
Types of learning
Notice: This page has been updated and moved to
Learning occurs in four major ways--transmission,
acquisition, accretion and emergence.
process by which information, knowledge, ideas and skills are taught to others through
purposeful, conscious telling, demonstration, and guidance. Over the course of a lifetime,
this method accounts for only about 10% of learning. Unfortunately, this is the most
traditional and, currently, the most predominate method of instruction. However, we are
finding out it is not very effective and moving toward acquisition and emergence, and
examining the lessons of accretion.
conscious choice to learn. Material in this category is relevant to the learner. This
method includes exploring, experimenting, self-instruction, inquiry, and general
curiosity. Currently, acquisition accounts for about 20% of what we learn.
gradual, often subconscious or subliminal, process by which we learn things like language,
culture, habits, prejudices, and social rules and behaviors. We are usually unaware that
the processes involved in accretion are taking place, but this method accounts for about
70% of what we know. Social learning certainly plays into this type of learning,
as does the hidden or covert curriculum.
Emergence is the
result of patterning, structuring and the construction of new ideas and meanings that did
not exist before, but which emerge from the brain through thoughtful reflection, insight
and creative expression or group interactions. This form of learning accounts for the
internal capacities of synthesis, creativity, intuition, wisdom, and problem-solving. This
method is greatly dependent on the allocation of time, and opportunities to reflect and
construct new knowledge. This method plays an important role in inspiration and
originality. In the context of current educational practices, we learn only 1-2% by this
In the context of these definitions,
examine your own learning experiences and teaching styles.
Changing your mind: Toward a theory of
learning: Applying complexity science to learning as a complex, dynamic system (a
working paper, unpublished)1-3. The concepts on this
page were adapted from Rayala work as they offer a nice categorical delineation
of types of learning and help promote examinations and discussion on types of
teaching. At the conference Dr. Marty (Martin) Rayala, formally of the Wisconsin-DPI,
indicated that his percentages were based on time allotments experienced in and outside
of school. The last address I had for Dr. Rayala was