My best learning experience

As in my attempt to define what learning is, when I think more deeply about my learning experiences, I can realize that most of them combines elements of the three theories.

This is particularly true when I move from my first years of school and focus on what has been the best learning experience in my life, that I identify with the one that taught me how to study and systemically use knowledge. This happened in high school, thanks to my history’s professor and his teaching methods. As in every Italian high school, history lessons were organised in a chronological way and used to focus mainly on historical episodes and their causes, developments and consequences. Anyway, my professor chose for us a book that was not organised in a chronological way but “per topics”. For example, you could find an entire century analysed from an economic and innovation perspective, focusing on the evolution of culture or looking at social consequences of historical episode. My history professor never gave us any instruction on how to study for tests and interviews and on how to link his lessons to the contents of the book. The first time I tried to prepare a test, I studied an incredible amount of pages, trying to cover all the part of the book that could have been linked to the topics exposed during the lesson but, since I could not remember all the data collected in the book and I could not elaborate systemically what I read, I failed badly. It was one of the first time in which my gold memory was not enough to be good at school. After that episode I tried many times to improve my performance, integrating lessons with movies and articles, linking history to economic and social elements and discussing my doubts with some of my colleagues. After some time, I could understand what was I demanded to do and why it was extremely useful to go through that process of creation of linkages, changes of perspective, critic and discussion, not only for succeed in a test.

I can say that my best learning experience can be sought as a long-term process in which elements from the three different theories found a good equilibrium and was systemically present.

In fact, starting with a constructive approach to the necessity of the students to experience a new method of study and always fostering the discussion between students, my professor triggered in me a process that can be referred to the cognitive theory of learning. In particular, by using different research material he imposed me to stop and think about what I was learning and how I was doing it. Moreover, my first failure has been a very strong element that motivated me to improve and to find alone my own way through the learning process, without expecting someone to give me the exact contents to use. Thanks to this effort I became aware of how my knowledge could improve and be refined thanks to an individual elaboration and reasoning but also by using different material offered by my professor as newspapers, supplementary work-sheets, movies, songs. Anyway, even if I went through a process with strong cognitive elements, I think that there have been some behavioral contents in my learning process that was crucial to me and to the development of my own knowledge. In particular, I can track in my experience the constant presence of gradual challenges offered by my professor and linked to the Italian school system, to evaluate my performance. Definitely, this long term process, in which positive and negative feedbacks were always present, allowed me to elaborate always more refined skills and was fundamental to be aware of my own knowledge and to assess it.

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