Maxims of Learning


Maxims of learning are techniques teachers can employ to make teaching more efficient. Some examples include one from analysis to synthesis.

This maxim advises teachers to begin by teaching subjects that may already be familiar and gradually expand upon them as knowledge grows further. This helps ensure a more excellent retention of new information.

1. From definite to indefinite

Studies have generally confirmed that definite articles induce different responses than indefinite ones; however, their exact effects depend on expectedness and are thus unclear. An innovative experiment using a combination of cloze tests (truncating sentences ending after the article) and novel manipulation has demonstrated this fact. Experiments were conducted where 3- and 4-year-old children were presented with felicitous and infelicitous noun phrases with specific or nonspecific referents, along with visual displays containing unique or nonunique referents. Expected definite nouns produced N400 responses that were higher than anticipated indefinite nouns, suggesting that any effect of definiteness is actually an expectancy-based response tailored by its uniqueness or nonuniqueness as referenced to it. Unexpected definite nouns produced significantly smaller N400 responses than expected indefinite nouns, suggesting that their unexpected definiteness caused processing costs in terms of less potent expectancy-based negativity.

Schneider et al. reported in their recent research study that indefinite articles matching an expected definite noun did not elicit an N400 response at all – this finding corroborated with earlier reports showing uniqueness failures incur qualitatively different processing costs (Clifton 2013; Kirsten & Schumacher 2014).

Another fascinating finding of this study was the discovery that learners often made errors related to using indefinite articles before mass nouns; such errors were particularly prevalent when these nouns were abstract rather than concrete; this trend supports Trenkic’s theory that an “a” is used to distinguish fuzzy abstract references, leading to more extraordinary “a” omission with abstract than concrete nouns.

2. From concrete to abstract

The transition from concrete to abstract thought is an integral component of cognitive development, as highlighted by Jean Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. Concrete thinking acts as the building block for abstract ideas, which requires children to decode and interpret objective facts – this requires experience gained via concrete experiences first (Harpaintner et al. 2019).

As adults, we all understand that children must see words to learn them, like cats. Furthermore, in order to grasp the concept of symmetry more fully, they need examples of it; human memory works best when faced with concrete information instead of abstract ideas – thus justifying a CRA approach to maths as such an essential learning strategy for young children.

Teachers need to equip children with both tangible resources and pictorial representations in order to help them transition from concrete to abstract thinking. This enables children to develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and to make sense of them on their own rather than memorize rules. For instance, using golden beads for teaching addition and subtraction allows children to work out problems independently rather than needing to refer back to written lists of rules, supporting their ability to think independently and showing that they understand concepts.

Once children become comfortable using concrete resources, they can transition to more abstract concepts using base ten blocks and place value counters. At first, they should record numbers representing their use of the concrete resources on a baseboard alongside it before moving on to calculations, which require exchanging and regrouping of data.

3. From particular to general

This maxim of learning advises teachers to start from concrete concepts, gradually progressing toward abstract or general ones. This approach helps students grasp more complicated concepts more quickly. By following this path of progression, teachers can assist their pupils in understanding complex ideas more readily.

“Specific to general” learning patterns are particularly effective for many subjects, particularly mathematics and science. Students begin by grasping concrete concepts like numbers and digits before progressing to more abstract ones such as algebra and geometry.

Furthermore, this principle can be applied across disciplines as it allows learners to make logical connections that help them see the bigger picture. This approach works especially well when understanding complex topics that require more than a single example for complete comprehension; that is why it is vitally important to break them down into smaller components with specific examples to illustrate each part.

An additional example would be when students try to write essays on specific topics. They might begin with a model but struggle to connect its details to their more significant subject matter due to needing more words to explain. Furthermore, generalizations take up less space when writing essays than examples do, so more words must be included when detailing illustrations than stereotypes can fit within writings.

This point is significant because it illustrates that learning is a multidimensional process, and people can acquire complex topics without immediately perceivable evidence of understanding. Furthermore, this explains why it may be easier for some individuals to understand how something works before trying to interpret its purpose, such as in learning grammar/tense rules.

4. From empirical to rational

Learning can be seen as an evolutionary process from empirical to rational, meaning students should start by comprehending something logically before moving on to more abstract concepts that may require more effort to understand. This helps create a deeper understanding of the subject matter while making learning more straightforward for all involved – for instance, if teaching poetry class, it is easier if students grasp its overall concept before breaking it down further into various parts such as words used, rhyme scheme, etc.

Many learning techniques use observational techniques like watching others and imitating their actions; this form of indirect learning extends the effectiveness of classical and operant conditioning techniques. With indirect learning techniques such as watching videos, giving examples, or creating analogies, it is possible to teach complex subjects without needing large volumes of materials.

Teachers should first teach pupils what exists immediately in front of them on the perceptual level before teaching about past or future events since, psychologically speaking, pupils from 6 to 14 years old function on this plane only.

Following this maxim is vitally important because presenting the knowledge to pupils logically does not accommodate their curiosity, age, interest, and learning capacity. Furthermore, teachers cannot provide understanding for every subject they teach – instead, their job lies in making empirical knowledge more rational to ensure it becomes genuine and definite knowledge for pupils.

5. From actual to representative

Teachers should endeavor to present content through actual, natural, or tangible objects whenever possible – this will make learning vivid and compelling compared to giving through drawings or models that merely simulate it. For instance, when teaching about the Golden Temple Amritsar, it would be preferable if he visited it himself instead of teaching through images or models.

L&D professionals must understand this principle to create practical training. When designing training, they must consider how learners move from concrete concepts to abstract ones – this ensures they don’t feel overwhelmed with information too quickly and makes learning much more manageable for both themselves and L&D professionals alike.

Elwyn Thorndike proposed three Primary Laws of Learning, along with five Subsidiary Laws to accompany these, that form the basis of teaching and learning. Of particular note is his first Primary Law: Readiness (the initial condition needed for education). Readiness means feeling motivated or driven to act quickly on any response or action given; its effects include satisfaction or irritation- for instance, when faced with food, cats are known to react rapidly by opening doors!

Animals also possess an innate knowledge, which influences their behaviors. For instance, if an animal eats something that damages it, then they will learn not to repeat such behavior in the future. Unfortunately, there may be situations where animals need to know by trial and error; when this is necessary, they need guidance through practices and experiences to do this successfully.