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EducationA Learners' View (ALV)Learning as Solving Five Generic Problems

Learning as Solving Five Generic Problems

The word learning takes the place of a longer description of choices people make to solve problems. Scientists have narrowed down this process to five (5) generic (common) problems. People learn by choosing from among options ways that most likely lead to adopting, adapting, and perhaps adjusting that option to avoid a problem the next time they encounter that situation.

Five Generic Problems

At its core, learning occurs by adopting, adapting, and sometimes extending ways new to the learner that other people accept to solve (i.e., answer) one or more of five generic problems, each posing as a question. Each serves as a general category of problems people encounter. These questions are the seeds for answers that teachers instruct learners to manage in lessons, curriculum directors use to categorize content of subjects to be taught, and test makers use to examine learners. There are the same questions writers manage in mysteries, physicians use to diagnose and treat diseases and traumas, and hunters answer while searching for their prey.

Problem 1: What is it? To solve this problem, you name the object or say or show how to use it. For example, find a piece of candy at a store.

Problem 2: What is it not? To solve this problem, you choose something different from the object. For example, if the object is big, choose something small. If it is a red candle, choose a blue shirt.

Problem 3: What is like it? To solve this problem, choose something similar, but not same object as the sample. If it is a computer joystick, choose a remote control.

Problem 4: What comes next? To solve this problem, choose the next item in the sequence. For example, if someone says, One, two, three, and asks What comes next? You say or write Four.

Problem 5: What is missing? to solve this problem, choose or name the missing item in a sequence. For example, if someone asks you to identify the missing item in this sequence, One, two, three, five, you say or write Four.

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  2. Learning as a Social Process
  3. Risk of Failure to Learn

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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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