This is an activity that can be conducted within a few minutes and cross-examined for a long time to explore different aspects of learning and performance. It can be performed with individuals or with groups of any size. And the best thing is that you don’t need materials or equipment.
To examine the impact of previous learning on present learning.
Step By Step Instructions
Ask participants to memorize these numbers as follows:
Instruct them to use whatever memorization technique that works best for them. For instance, you can memorize the numbers as if they were a tel number: 854-917-61032. Make sure that you memorize the number 10 as “ten” and not as “one” and “zero”.
Request participants to say the numbers from one to ten in numerical sequence beginning with “one”. As soon as the task is completed, ask participants to stand up (and remain standing). Pause while participants do this.
Give participants the instruction to say the numbers from one to ten in alphabetical order (when the numbers are spelled out in English), beginning with “eight”. As soon as they completed the task, ask participants to sit down. You will have to allow a big pause for participants to complete this task.
Instruct participants to sit down. Ask them to listen as you rattle off the ten numbers in alphabetical order. Inform them that it took a lot of time practicing this skill.
Debrief the activity by asking participants why they think it took them a long time to recite the numbers in alphabetical order than in numerical order. Also ask them why they made a lot more mistakes during the second activity. Ask additional questions that highlight these facts:
– What we have already learned interferes with what we are trying to learn afresh.
– It is easier to learn something new if we have a blank, beginner’s mind.
– It is difficult to learn something new if we have previously learned a related skill (or knowledge or belief) in a different fashion.
Elicit from participants examples scenarios where old learning interferes with new. If necessary, use these examples to get them started:
– If you initially learned to drive on the left side of the road, you will have problems learning to drive in Europe where people drive on the right side.
– During the Olympic Games in Australia, many pedestrians got killed because they crossed the road after checking the traffic from the left side of the road.
– The accent we acquire during early childhood interferes with our attempts to change it during adult days.
– The work styles, beliefs, and standard procedures that we learned during successful business periods interfere with our ability to change them to cope with current realities.
– The stereotypes that we have acquired about other races, religions, and cultures interfere with our ability to accept and accommodate global realities. If we have taught our workers to depend on us for complete directions, it is difficult for them to acquire demonstrate initiative.
– If we have been taught to think in terms of linear cause-effect relationships, it is very difficult for us to acquire systems thinking.
– If we expect to learn from authoritative lectures, we have difficulty learning from a jolt.
Ask participants for strategies for handling learned interference. Discuss the following guidelines:
– Keep an open mind about alternative approaches to achieving your goals.
– Be aware of your current beliefs, knowledge, and beliefs.