Tip #836:   How to Cultivate Learning

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers

 It is unfortunate that the old university paradigm of lecturer as expert in the classroom still continues in higher education. Patrick T. Terenzini, Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, has reviewed research from the past fifty years on how college affects students. He found that there are six characteristics  that cultivate and promote learning and have nothing to do with lecturers.

Although he is writing about higher education, his conclusions are also valid in the business world and should sound familiar.

According to Terenzini, educationally effective learning experiences:

  1. Involve encounters with challenging ideas or people who have beliefs or perspectives that are significantly different from what the learner believes or can accept. These encounters lead learners to form new ideas or beliefs and adopt a more varied and complex understanding.
  2. Require the learners’ active engagement with the challenge to resolve the tension between old and new ideas. More engagement leads to greater learning.
  3. Occur in supportive environments that stimulate and encourage exploration, examination, experimentation and risk taking, and that accept and even expect failure.
  4. Encourage active, real-world learning through real or simulated problems that do not have a set correct answer or solution. “Experiential approaches are more effective overall and promote such skills as problem identification, critical thinking, evaluating evidence and alternative ideas, and tolerance for ambiguity.”
  5. Involve other people either as peers or mentors who provide the social opportunities for challenging encounters and support for resolving conflict that stem from challenges.
  6. Invite or promote reflection because the learner needs time to assess and adopt new knowledge if there is going to be any positive conceptual or behavioral change

According to Terenzini, effective learning and development requires at least one if not all six characteristics. He feels strongly “…if a current or proposed activity, program or policy has none of the six characteristics, that lack casts doubt on its educational effectiveness and the strength of its claims on people’s time, energy and other resources.”

It’s clear he is promoting all the characteristics. However, when Terezini states that even one of the characteristics will make a positive difference to learning effectiveness, I disagree with his conclusion. Regardless of the delivery approach, if we want to promote behavioral change that sets individuals and their organizations up for success, learners need all six characteristics in place.

Do you agree?

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


#learningeffectiveness  #educationaleffectiveness  #experientiallearning

Related Posts

Training Mastery

Are you a new trainer? Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering how to start or what to do?

Would you like to get just-in-time answers to your pressing questions? How about a second pair of eyes and ears to give you useful feedback and validation?

If you need help, come to my weekly Zoom roundtable on the third Thursday of the month, from 11 AM to 11:30 AM CST, beginning on September 21, 2023.

View the full course schedule.


Two new virtual business workshops for Spring 2023

Presentation Skills: Learn to be informative and persuasive.
8:30-4:00 pm,  4/26/2023

Register here

Six Steps to Yes: Acquire instant influence in a virtual world.
8:30 – 12:30pm, 3/28/2023

Register here


It doesn’t have to be difficult to Deal with Difficult People.

In this course you will define the behavioral characteristics and underlying needs of difficult people, assess situations in which you effectively handled a difficult person, review five steps for handling difficult people Laurel & Associates now offers courses through Teachable. Learn at your own pace.

Share This Post