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EducationA Learners' View (ALV)Distinguishing How from What People Learn - Q&A

Distinguishing How from What People Learn – Q&A

A Learners’ View (ALV) Is Of Choices On The Shortest And Fastest Path To Learning, The Oxygen Of Social Life.

Main Page: Classic Education: A Learners’ View (ALV) of Choices during Teaching and Learning


THIS Q&A addresses concerns educators have expressed about distinguishing how to from what people learn.

Q: What advantages exist for distinguishing between how and what a learner learns?

A: Here’s a sample of facts:

1. Likely increases in volume and rate of learning of individual and aggregates of learners.

2. Reduced clock time consumed by learners through random trial-and-errors to complete lessons successfully.

3. More time for instruction beyond minimum state requirements.

Q: Why should a teacher try to distinguish between how and what a person learns? They happen together and are inseparable for a person to learn. So why distinguish?

A: Teachers try to distinguish between how and what, when they plan to increase student learning routinely and promptly and to follow that plan during instruction. ALV consists of distinctions experimental empirical behavioral and social scientists have reported, so individual instructors do not have to rediscover them. ALV features learning as resulting from social processes people use while teaching and learning.

Good teachers use these distinctions when all of their students meet the learning criterion for a lesson. They have matched by plan or by chance how people learn with what they learn.

Observers who use a learners’ view (ALV) of a lesson can identify this match when it occurs. This view resulted from scientists separating how from what people do.

We describes these results and how teachers and other instructors have used such descriptions to accelerate, increase, and deepen (AID) learning routinely and promptly.

Q: Anyway, I’m too busy teaching to try another theory unproven in a classroom.

A: Then you are in luck. Thousands of controlled experiments separating how from what people learn have been conducted in classrooms and other venues and then reported in peer reviewed professional research and education journals. One experiment in classrooms included teachers of over one million students during three years.

Q: If what you say is so great, why haven’t I heard of it before?”‘

A: We cannot account for why you haven’t heard of these distinctions and of how instructors have increased learning rapidly and promptly. However, this site is available to support your effort to start making those distinctions.

Q: How does Classic Education: A Learners’ View (ALV) of Choices during Teaching and Learning help me to distinguish how from what a person learns?

A: Writers of Classic Education: A Learners’ View … give priority to describing in lay terms processes and results of experimental studies that distinguish how people act while teaching that results in learning learning and how instructors have reported using these descriptions. Some of descriptions occur as videos made available by classroom teachers.

Readers of this site may adapt these descriptions to your planning and offering of lessons.

Q: Well, I still don’t have time to spend on one more theory for my teaching, no matter what these scientists claim.

A: This site consists of descriptions of facts, not theory or other speculation, of choices teachers and learners make while learning as reported by behavioral and social scientists.

Here’s a summary of pluses and minuses to applying these facts to plans for and instruction of lessons, as described in research literature.


1. Likely increases in student learning.

2. Reduced clock time consumed by learners through random trials-and-errors while trying to learn the lesson.

3. More rapid progress through the curriculum that addresses state standards and state tests.

4. More clock time available to extend instruction beyond minimum state requirements in the existing school day.

5. Reduction during instruction of trial-and-errors during lessons.

6. Prompt feedback from learners that describes where instruction failed to result in all students meeting the learning criterion for each lesson.


a. Distinguishes teaching from instruction.

b. Modifies what instructors do before, during, and after instruction of each lesson.

c. Demonstrates how Instructors have responsibility for instructional failure when even one learner fails to meet a criterion for learning an instructed lesson.

d. Requires planning for uniting the process of instruction with the analysis of lesson content.

Related Reading

  1. A Learners’ View (ALV)
  2. ALV in a Nutshell
  3. Two Dot Learning

Related Resources

  1. Interviews and Conversations about Applying ALV (a Learners’ View)

Simplify and Extrapolate instead of Complicate and Exaggerate. (ALV T-Shirt Wisdom)

Last Edited: March 11, 2015

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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