Blueprint for Learning,
Memory, and Performance Improvements
Using Learning Orientations to Guide Instructional Design,
Intervention, Practice/Feedback, Re-enforcements,
Implementation, and Evaluation



Topics & Issues








General Environment

Prefer loosely structured, mentoring environments that promote challenging goals, discovery, and self-managed learning. Prefer semi-complex, semi-structured, coaching environments that stimulate personal value and provide creative interaction. Prefer simple, safe, structured environments that help learners achieve easy learning goals in a linear fashion.


Goal-Setting and Standards


Set and accomplish personal short- and long-term challenging goals that may not align with goals set by others; maximize effort to reach personal goals. Set and achieve short-term, task-oriented goals that meet average-to-high standards; situationally minimize efforts and standards to reach assigned or negotiated standards.  Follow explicit steps to accomplish simple, task-oriented goals assigned by others—try to please and conform; maximize efforts in supportive environments with safe standards.




Autonomy and Responsibility


Self-motivated to assume learning responsibility and self-direct goals, learning, progress, and outcomes.

Experience frustration if restricted or given little learning autonomy.

Situationally self-motivated to assume learning responsibility in areas of interest.  Will willingly give up control and extend less effort for topics of less interest or in restrictive environments. Cautiously motivated to assume little decision-making responsibility, self-direct learning as little as possible, and prefer guidance and assisted learning.


Knowledge Building

Commit great effort to discover, elaborate, and build new knowledge and meaning. Selectively commit measured effort to assimilate and use relevant knowledge and meaning. Commit careful, measured effort to accept and reproduce knowledge to meet external requirements and expectations.




Emphasize the priority of the whole over its parts. Explore the priority of the whole over its parts. Consider the priority of the whole over its parts.




Use skilled, confident determination, analysis, intellectual criteria, evaluation, interpretation, judgment and reflection about meaning and significance of evidence and what is observed to accept or reject conclusions. Consider simple to complex problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences. Increase effort to learn and effectively use logical inquiry, reasoning, intellectual criteria and reflection. Be perceptive. Discover new information. Think clearly and logically, analyze and interpret information, evaluate ideas and draw inferences through judgment and reasoning. Consider techniques for critical thinking.




Prefer case studies and complex, whole-to-part, problem solving opportunities. Prefer competitive part-to-whole problem solving. Prefer scaffolded support for simple, guided problem solving.




Actively control learning by using reflective thinking to consider and assess what is known and identify and close any gaps to what is needed to improve learning. Explore ways to control learning by actively using reflective thinking to consider and assess what is known and identify and close any gaps to what is needed to improve learning. Learn reflective thinking techniques to consider and assess what is known and identify and close any gaps to what is needed to improve learning.


User Interface

Open learning interface for high stimulation and processing capacity Hands-on learning interface for medium stimulation and processing capacity Consistent and simple interface for minimal stimulation and processing capacity.



Prefer occasional mentoring and interaction for achieving goals (MENTORING). Prefer continual coaching and interaction for achieving goals (COACHING) Prefer continual guidance and reinforcement for achieving short-term goals (GUIDING)



Prefer inferential feedback. Prefer concise feedback. Prefer explicit feedback.





Interesting, Interactive



Group Interaction

Prefer open-ended, dynamic groups; balanced emphasis on social-emotional needs and high-standard task completion Prefer semi-structured,  purposeful groups;  emphasis on task completion. Prefer well-structured and safe groups; emphasis on social-emotional needs.


Group Collaboration

Learning-oriented; idea-seeking, encourages positive dissonance; emphasizes efficacy; numerous cycles of brainstorming, reflection, and self-critique; group prefers shared leadership; encourages intra- and inter-group interactions Task-oriented; compromise-seeking; emphasizes efficiency; group prefers strong internal leadership; encourages intra-group interactions, avoids inter-group interactions. Completion-oriented; consensus-seeking; emphasizes compliance; group prefers strong external leadership; minimizes intra- and inter-group interactions.


Learning Module Size

Short, to the point, summary linked to more detail if necessary Medium, moderate explanations. Longer, detailed explanations, in a step wise approach.



One good example and one bad example. A few good and bad examples presented with increasing difficulty. Multiple good and bad examples presented with increasing difficulty.


Information Need

Holistic, specific information needed to solve a problem. Specific interests concerning short-term projects and tasks. To fill a requirement.


Content Structuring

Prefer freedom to construct own content structure. Prefer a general instruction, limited ability to reorganize. Prefer to let others decide content structure.


Sequencing Methods

Hypertext, sorting by meta-tags, precise access. Semi-linear, logical branching, access by subtopic. Linear, page-turner representations general access.


Quality of Assignments

Usually prefers to exceed stated requirements and assignments in pursuit of personal goals. Usually prefers to fulfill requirements but no more. Will do more when assignments are in an area of keen interest. May not meet minimal requirements without guided assistance.


Questioning Habits

Asks probing, in-depth questions about content. Asks questions to complete assignments, too busy taking notes. Asks mechanistic questions about assignments.



Innovators - Find the mistakes and make recommendations for improvement and further implementation. Implementers - Refine implementation and make recommendations for sustainment. Sustainers - Refine implementation and make recommendations about gaps, difficulties, and risks.

Learning Strategies and Differences Described for Three Learning Orientations

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Updated April 2003 by Margaret Martinez & The Training Place.
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Copyright © Margaret Martinez 1996-2002