Principle #3d – Sequence

Principle #3d – Sequence. Prior learning may facilitate or hinder ensuing attainment. This principle captures two ways in which prior learning might affect new learning. In the first case, something that has been learned previously can be applied in a beneficial way toward learning something new. For example, previous experience wakeboarding behind a boat means one does not have to acquire basic board skills (i.e., posturing, balance, speed control, and steering) when learning to kiteboard. Since full attention can be devoted to learning to control the kite and respond to wind and water surface changes, a person who has prior wakeboarding experience will be able to take up kiteboarding more quickly, all other things being equal, than someone who does not. The same analogy can be used to consider the second case, where previous learning may hinder learning something new. The learner with previous wakeboarding experience comes into kiteboarding with a habit of using the rope handle to bear his weight and pull him across the surface of the water. This presents a problem in the kiteboarding situation however, as the in-and-out motion of the handle is used to control kite speed, which is the surface area of the kite that is exposed to the oncoming wind stream. When taking up kiteboarding, the wakeboarder will need to fight the urge to pull on the handle and instead learn to sit back into the waist harness to which the kite is attached, leaving his arms free to vary kite speed as needed by moving the handle up or down.[1]


[1] The facilitating effects of sequence are dependent on recognition of how what is currently being learned relates to what has already been learned (Principle #3e) as well as the degree of effort (Principle #3c) required to coordinate previously acquired knowledge and skills. Maximal facilitating effects of sequence are realized when the coordinating effort is minimal, or fully automatic, and there is full and accurate recognition of how what is currently being learned is related to what has been learned previously.

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