Successful Learning is a Two Way Street

As an instructor, I am happy to own the success of the learning events I lead.  It is my job to understand students’ needs and then figure out how to best meet them.  In addition, it’s my responsibility to do that in a way that maximizes the student experience, that is, make it fun, engaging, and pertinent to their real world.

What, if anything, do the students own?  Students often see training as a break from the proverbial grind.  They want to have fun, relax, even be entertained.  And that’s fine.  Learning should be fun.  But how is the success in the classroom dependent on what they bring to the experience?

I remember some questions that a colleague used to ask her students at the beginning of each class to open their minds to the idea that the success of any learning experience is, in part, their responsibility.  She asked them to note somewhere privately their responses to four questions.

 One a scale of 1 to 7 (low-high), rate yourself on the following:

  • How valuable an experience do you plan to have today?
  • How engaged and active do you plan on being in class today?
  • How much “risk” are you willing to take, that is, try new ideas?
  • How much do you care about the quality of the experience of those around you?  

Learning and development are often cited as key ingredients to fixing our national economic malaise.  Perhaps many of us are or will be increasingly finding ourselves in training as our organizations embrace the idea that learning and skills development are the cornerstones of being competitive, and maybe just surviving, in the knowledge-based, global economy of the 21st century. Are these questions that we all could be asking ourselves more?

I’m signed up to take a class in a few weeks and I’m pretty excited about it.  It will be a change of venue for me.  I get to relax and let someone else figure out how to meet my needs.  I’m even holding out hope that I might be entertained a bit.  I’m looking forward to a great instructor leading me through a great class.

But I also had better be willing to own my piece of the learning experience. I will need to participate and take some risk to get outside of my comfort zone because that is the only way to truly learn. I expect to be interested in a quality experience for those around me because it will be a shared experience.  So how important will I be to the success of the class? I think critically. 


Increase your competitiveness by taking a business analysis or project management class through Watermark Learning. Visit our public class schedule to see what classes are coming up in your area.


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