This post presents a brief elaboration on the second of seven principles of learning:

Principle #2 – Target. Human potential may be channeled intentionally toward a specific, predetermined target of learning, or will otherwise follow incidentally from the conditions to which a person is subjected.

This second principle, which has been added to the framework as shown in Figure 3, deals with determination of the target toward which learning activity will tend. It states that human potential will be either (a) channeled, intentionally, toward a specific target of learning (which channeling may be executed by the person himself, or by another—see Principle of Learning #7 – Agency), or (b) shaped incidentally by circumstance. An intentional learning target is one that is selected and defined in advance of engaging in activity that will lead to the desired learning outcome. An incidental target, on the other hand, is not selected in advance, but is a culminating, consequent result of whatever activities a person engages in.

Figure 3. A target of learning may be selected intentionally or follow incidentally
Figure 3. A target of learning may be selected intentionally or follow incidentally

A target may also be considered in terms of its complexity and applicability. The complexity of a target is defined by the number of sub-targets into which it may be divided, recursively. A target of minimal complexity (i.e., a simple target) cannot reasonably be subdivided. All other targets are divisible into two or more immediate sub-targets, each of which, if also complex, is further divisible, recursively (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Simple and complex targets of learning
Figure 4. Simple and complex targets of learning

The applicability of a target is a measure of the number of complex targets in which it participates as a sub-target. A target with limited applicability is the sub-target of only one, or a few targets of greater complexity. A target with broad applicability is a sub-target of many targets.


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