Identifying and providing appropriate resources to support individual learningLearning to learnOrganises resources in a structured way for learning purposesStructured and organiсed approach.

How much do we waste time and effort that slows down our learning efficiency?

In this article you will be invited to analyze your own learning habits, look at them with criticism and to analyze their efficiency in the learning process.

Why did I choose this tool?

Following the idea of Kurt Lewin, there always exist driving and restraining forces. Both are important, and sometimes they bring us to a status quo, which changes again after a while. This is the paradox of constant change. This article invites the readers to dive into the restraining forces of their own learning.

How does it apply to being a trainer?

Critical thinking is one of the most important skills a trainer can have. It requires constant awareness, passion, openness and curiosity. There are more questions than answers. This article provokes the stable learner within us to make a little revolution and change our habits.


Learning efficiency is one of many ways for looking at the process of learning; it describes the amount and quality of learning that takes place over a specified period of time.  All of us would like to be effective, but time is running fast.

According to the magazine „Developing the Cambridge – Learner Attributes,” by improving learning efficiency, we can learn a greater amount of material in a faster, deeper and more effective way. This creates more time for further learning in valued areas across the formal and non-formal learning.

In many articles in Trainers Library we were exploring aspects which may improve learning efficiency; now is the time to discover what are the factors that reduce it.

It looks like we, as learners, have many ineffective learning habits that go against our efficiency.

Take time to look at them and find out what ineffective practices reduce your learner efficiency.

  1. Revising the learning material over and over makes you less effective.
    One of the misconceptions and common practices among learners would be revising the learning material, book, program of a training, timeline of the method, speech before a conference etc. over and over again trying to memorize everything. We don’t recognize that revision is passive, and the mind can wander with the illusion that we are actually learning.


1A. Testing your understanding and reflecting on the outcome maximize effectiveness of your learning.
Revision is more effective when we have to answer questions and note what we can and cannot do well. This makes us more focused and critical towards learning.

Instead of revising on and on the same material, play with it, look at it from different perspectives, question its statements, etc.

1B. What is your way to maximize this kind of learning ?………………………….

  1. Copying out notes over and over and concentrating on factual recall is slowing down learning.


2A.  Connect the dots. Instead of copying, create mind-maps, matrixes or any other graphs connecting concepts and ideas to which they relate.

2B. What is your way to maximize this kind of learning?…………………………..

  1. Procrastinate learning until the last moment. We delay the work of learning and preparing for a particular cause. We delay reading the evaluation of participants, we postpone preparation for the training, we postpone reading our favorite books or doing our own reflection. This minimizes our learning.


3A. Create regular spots for learning, revising what you have been recently learning and what you can learn new. Create bridges in your mind. If you would really like to learn something, you need to become deeply embedded.

3B. What is your way to maximize this kind of learning?………………………….

4. Solitary learner. Revising and working alone is often minimizing the effectiveness of learning.


4A. Collaborative activity with a learning mate or in a learning community. While learning can effectively be done by the learner alone, it does not have to be a solitary activity. Learning could be a collaborative activity with other colleagues in pairs or groups, testing each other and teaching each other. That’s why pools of trainers and networks are very beneficial for personal development.

4B. What is your way to maximize this kind of learning?………………………….

  1. What is over is over, there is no sense to reflect on it. Once our learning experience is complete, trainers do not reflect on what caused their performance to be what it was. That may minimize the learning outcome of the experience.


5A. Reflect on your performance. Prepare your reflection before the learning experience. Use specific practices and instruments designed for this purpose. Plan monitoring, schedule meetings with your colleagues, make constructive evaluations with participants.

5B. What is your way to maximize this kind of learning ?………………………….


Scheduling learning during your work as a trainer:

Before the experience (training) reflect on the following questions:

  1. Is this experience similar to the previous one?
  2. Can I describe in my own words what success in this experience will look like?
  3. Where is the best place to start?

During the experience (training)

  1. Am I on the right track?
  2. If I am not, what can I do about it?
  3. Who can I ask for help?

After the experience (training)

  1. What worked well?
  2. Is there anything I could have done better?
  3. Can I apply this or connect it to other situations and learning contexts?

Table: Nine questions for learners to develop metacognitive thinking (adapted from Innerdrive, 2017).

Reflection questions:

  • What did you already know about your learning and what did you discover new?
  • Do you agree with the fact that you can increase your learning effectiveness through your own actions?
  • What is the difference between learning from books and lectures and learning through experience?
  • How can learning through experience be complemented by scientific knowledge?

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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Cambridge Assessment International Education - Developing the Cambridge Learner attributes, ® IGCSE, Copyright © UCLES, March 2018Nine questions for students to develop metacognitive thinking (adapted from Innerdrive, 2017).Orientation Lecture Series LEARNING TO LEARN: Developing critical thinking skills  Learning Centre

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