Assessing one’s own learning achievements and competencesKnowledge of the principles and methods of assessment and self-assessmentLearning to learnRefers to various assessment and self-assessment principles and methods.

From a tacit to reflective learner

In this article we introduce the concept of a learner who evolves from a tacit/unconscious one to a highly organized—reflective learner. You may assess yourself: which learner are you, and how do you want to develop?

Why did I choose this tool?

Moving from being a tacit to being a reflective learner involves ‘learning how to learn’ competence.

How does this apply to being a trainer? 

Learning needs to be made an object of attention, reflection, conversation and evaluation in every field of education, and predominantly in non-formal education. It is crucial for a trainer to be aware of his own proficiency as a learner to navigate learning process in a reflective way.


Being a learner you still have a choice: you may remain a tacit learner, you may decide to develop yourself and become an aware learner, then strategic learner and finally you may reach a final level of the reflective learner.

Look at the descriptions of each phase in the following graph.

Reflective learner:

•   is not only strategic in thinking but is also able to reflect upon their own thinking-in-progress, pondering strategies and revising themes  appropriately

•   thrives in the unfamiliar or unknown

•   actively learns from failure or setbacks

•   has developed a considerable degree of resilience and determination


Strategic learner:

•   can organise his/her own thinking by using problem-solving, decision-making, evidence-seeking and other kinds of cognitive strategies

•   is successful when the task or activity is known to them and is able to select an appropriate approach based on prior understanding and knowledge.

•   in a new situation or context, she/he can be lost

Aware learner:

•    knows about some of the kinds of thinking he/she does

•   he/she can compare and apply outcomes but is not strategic in his/hers own thinking

•   barriers to learning in the form of misconceptions are prevalent and these learners do not work hard to overcome them

Tacit learner:

•   is unaware of how he/she thinks and learns

•   simply accepts whether he/she knows something or not

•   will very likely have barriers in the way of their own progress and development

From a tacit to reflective learner – evolution

To move from stage of a tacit learner to the stage of aware learner, the learning to learn competence has to become an object of one’s learning (according to Watkins 2010).

You need to be: 

  • self-aware of how you are learning and how effective your learning is 

You should be able to: 

  • identify and overcome barriers to learning
  • use questioning assumptions
  • delay gratification
  • stick to a task
  • enjoy challenges and difficulties
  • organize learning effectively (develop concepts of standards and measure their current performance against these)
  • be willing and able to ask for help
  • understand when your own resources are limited
  • learn from mistakes and setbacks
  • try new strategies

Your attitude to learning: 

  • you should be self-regulated (managing your learning energy and focus)
  • intrinsically motivated


Which type of learner are you predominantly? Mark statements from the following categories which refer to you. Decide what type of learner you are right now.





I am able to reflect upon my own thinking-in-progress, pondering strategies and revising themes appropriately.

I feel well in new and unknown situations.

I treat my failure as a treasure, I immediately strive new learning out if it.

I know how to manage my own learning energy as well as opinion, I am resilient.

I am enough determined in my learning to achieve the intended goal.

I can stimulate the way I am thinking by adjusting different strategies adequate to a situation.

I am learning efficiently and successfully in the situations and contexts I know.

In a new learning situation I feel lost, I need time to reorganize my thoughts.


I am slightly aware of the ways I am thinking.

I am slightly aware of the ways I am learning.

I am comparing my results of the learning process.

I am not revising my learning results, I am convinced that what I have learnt is good and adequate.



I never thought about the way I am thinking.

I never thought about way I am learning.

I accept my level of competences.

I have no difficulties with learning.

Tacit learner Aware learner Strategic learner: Reflective learner:
From a tacit learner to reflective learner – evolution

What can you do to develop further as a learner? Take 5 resolutions which could help you in development as the learner.

The list of five resolutions for a learner:

  1. ____________________________
  2. ____________________________
  3. ____________________________
  4. ____________________________
  5. ____________________________

Reflection questions

  1. What do you think about the competence ‘’learning to learn’’?
  2. Which content in the article do you agree with, and which content would you like to discuss?
  3. What other reflection tools you would like to develop to reflect on learning to learn competence?

Author of the article: Dagna Gmitrowicz

Dagna Gmitrowicz – a senior trainer in the field of nonformal education, conducting international/national training and facilitating conferences since 2001. Creator of innovative educational tools and curriculum – Academy of Nonformal Education (PAJP), TOSCA training cycle, learning cycle in BECC Bridge to Cultural Centres, Colours and Needs cards, and many more. Member of several international trainers’ pools (It’s up to Me, TOSCA, European Solidarity Corp Polish NA pool and other). The member of the International Society for Self-Directed Learning after giving a lecture during SSDL Symposium 2020 in USA/Florida. Dagna Gmitrowicz is also a professional painter, and performer actively participating in a cultural scene in Germany and Poland, actively supporting cultural events and projects.
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Developing the Cambridge learner attributes, Cambridge Assessment International Education ,Copyright © UCLES, March 2018, Chris Watkins (2010) Research Matters Learning, Performance and Improvement

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