The Four Learning Orientations

Learners situationally fall along the continuum of learning orientations. Depending on the specific learning circumstances, a learner may cover a full range of one learning orientation or move downwards or upwards in response to negative or positive responses, conditions, resources, results, expectations, and experiences. Most learners will respond with some level of resistance in negative environments. Upward change into new learning orientations requires greater effort and learner control and stronger intentions, feelings, and beliefs about learning.

Performing learners are lower-risk, semi-skilled to skilled learners that rationally, systematically, and capably use psychological processes, strategies, preferences, and self-regulated learning skills to achieve learning objectives and tasks. In contrast to transforming learners, performing learners are more selective about how hard they work on learning goals. They prefer focusing on the process and steps towards attaining worthwhile goals.

Performing learners more often

  • prefer short-term thinking that helps them explore the details and follow the best steps towards task and project completion.

  • appreciate accuracy and quality and may take fewer risks and avoid mistakes and challenging or difficult goals to accomplish tasks correctly and efficiently.

  • enjoy coaching (e.g., guided discovery) and team or group relationships, They prefer relying on available external resources, social influences, and interaction or collaboration to accomplish a task or common goal.

  • need an important reason or seek benefits (that they value) to push themselves toward more intentional performance (e.g., greater effort and higher standards). They may acknowledge that they may limit or constrain learning effort (e.g., they do not have enough time) by only meeting stated objectives, getting the grade, or avoiding exploratory steps beyond given learning requirements.

To improve, performing learners should acquire more abstract and holistic thinking, strategic planning, and long-term goal setting skills. They may decide to work harder to achieve more challenging goals or acquire new skills (if they perceived greater value) in areas not typically of interest.