Learning Orientations



The intentional Learning Orientation Construct (LOC) is a multidimensional representation offering an elaborated view of factors influencing individual learning differences. The neurosciences are helping us be more precise about defining the intentional learning domain and determining competencies. Learning orientations describe an individual's disposition to approach, manage, and achieve learning intentionally and differently from others. The construct identifies key learner-difference variables and serves as an underlying foundation for a successful intentional learning model. The Construct provides measure to assess learning ablity and readiness to learn. Construct verification and validation arguments are available.

The conventional, commonly accepted primarily cognitive perspective (e.g., how learners think or prefer to process information, such as, learning styles and strategies) erroneously suggests that cognitive aspects are the dominant impact on how we learn differently. This focus typically subjugates (or even overlooks) the role played by emotions and intentions. The LO research explores a more robust understanding of how learners approach different learning environments and instructional presentations within the context of a more comprehensive set of key psychological factors (e.g., conative, affective, social, and cognitive factors) --that influence how learners learn more or less successfully.

The LOC describes how three primary factors impact intentional learning success and influence individual learning differences:

  1. Learning Independence Domain (Autonomy) This factor considers locus of control and refers to the individual's desire and ability to take responsibility, make choices, control, manage, and improve their own learning, self-assess, and self-motivate (i.e., make choices independent of the instructor or prescribed sequences) in the attainment of learning and personal goals.
  2. Committed Strategic Planning and Learning Effort Domain This factor refers to the degree that learners persist and commit deliberate, strategic purpose and effort to accomplish learning and achieve goals. Successful learners place great importance on the act of striving, purpose or commitment to applying focused, strategic planning, hard-working effort, and high principles to learn. Less successful learners generally lack insight that strategic planning and committed effort is a contributing factor for achievement.
  3. Conation / Affective Learning Focus (Desire to Learn or Achieve Mastery) Domain This factor refers to the individual's desire or striving to learn. It considers the learner's will, commitment, intent, drive, or passion for improving, mastering, transforming, and setting and achieving goals, taking risks, and meeting challenges. It describes the individual's typical conative and affective orientation to the process of learning, regardless of content, environments, resources, or course delivery. Naturally, learners will be more intentional and enjoy or apply greater effort in specific courses, topics, or situations that interest or appeal to them and then motivate them to learn.

The intentional learning orientation construct describes, from a whole-person perspective, the dynamic flow between:

  • deep-seated psychological factors
  • disposition to learn
  • subsequent choices about cognitive learning preferences, styles, strategies, and skills
  • attitudinal, psychological and biological response to different treatments and solutions
  • intended learning outcomes, and
  • reflective, progressive or regenerative efforts toward improved learning performance.
The intentional Learning Orientation Construct (LOC) has specific relevance for all learners, regardless of age, intentions, preferences, or other learning or life-style variables. Most LOQ studies focus on adult learners (high school or above). This construct is especially useful for designing instructional environments and strategies (Case Study) that support individual differences and foster more "Entrepreneurial” learning ability.

Learning Orientations Model

The Learning Orientations Model identifies distinct characteristics or aggregate learning patterns for four learning orientations: Transforming, Performing, Conforming, and Resistant.

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Created by the Successful Learning Research Team.
Some projects were funded in part by the Society for Technical Communication
(STC Research Award, 1997-1998).
Copyright © Margaret Martinez 1996-2010
Updated March 2010 by Margaret Martinez.
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