Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

Why Teaching Doesn't Mean Learning

Learning and teaching are two completely different things. They are not the two sides of the same coin! They are two different processes that are often put into the same frame of reference (education) and sometimes even happen in the same physical space (classroom). Learning can be defined as the processes of acquisition and elaboration (Illeris, 2003), and what is referred to teaching often is just delivery of information (a monologue, for example lectures, either in class or online), and measuring memorized pieces of that information (tests, exams). Teaching becomes learning facilitation when the teacher and the student engage in a dialogue.


Teaching should not be force-feeding facts to students, but helping them to understand bigger entities and how the details connect to the higher level concept.  Usually people are curious, and learning is a survival skill we all were born with and used freely during the early childhood. When learning is seen as an in-built force within your students, the teacher's job just became much easier in an instant.  By remaining as a facilitator for learning and supporting students when they are constructing their own knowledge, the teacher has taken a huge step towards utilizing the learner's autonomy. Helping students to learn requires a dialogue, because learning grows in interactions. 


Students are led into the learning process and given freedom to choose (within pedagogically appropriate boundaries) how to construct their own knowledge and which learning activities to use in order to reach the mutually discussed learning goals (of the day or week - teacher should take responsibility for the larger goals).  Ideally students are also allowed to choose the assessment methods most suitable for their needs, but the teacher should lead the students utilize wide selection of assessments.


In the previously described learning environment learning is effective and authentic, builds on higher level of thinking skills, new information becomes part of the students thinking process and the learning objective is comprehended as a part belonging to a bigger entity. Learning environment supports students' knowledge construction and learning aptitude, and encourages students to engage in collaborative meaning-making. The picture on left illustrates the components of effective learning.



Thinking from the viewpoint of teaching things appears to be very different.  It seems inevitable that the teacher must somehow capture and keep the attention of the students.  So, in order to get and keep the attention the teacher must motivate the students to learn and probably even entertain them so that they will want to continue learning.  Small rewards (and penalties) are utilized to focus students' concentration into the desired learning objective, and students are led through a teaching procedure with the hope that it would change also there thinking and not just their behavior. Rote memorization is the most commonly used learning strategy so learning loss becomes a real problem after a while.


Please let me help you choose better learning/teaching strategies!


Here is a link to a video presentation: Meaningful Learning

This blogpost talks about interactions that support learning