November 2005

"Helping People Succeed"

Intentional Learning: Learning to Change the Brain

Purpose: Keep readers informed about learning orientation research and the application of individual differences in learning theories, models, and design strategies to mass-customize and personalize intentional learning. This whole-person approach highlights the importance of emotions and intentions on learning, in addition to social and cognitive aspects. This online newsletter appears at: (http://training.trainingplace.com/newsletter/Nov2005.htm). The index for these newsletters appears at: (http://training.trainingplace.com/newsletter/index.htm).








Scroll Down


This newsletter presents recent educational and neuroscience research advances to highlight implications for educators and educational research. The special topic for this newsletter is intentional learning.  In this newsletter, you will find an assortment of studies that explore individual differences in learning and links to other resources. Hopefully, you will find new, useful items of interest.


How do successful professionals learn today? They have the ability and a recognition of the need to engage in intentional learning. How does one learn to learn intentionally. The first obvious challenge in addressing this outcome is the definition of intentional learning itself. What exactly constitutes intentional learning? How can one distinguish someone who is an intentional learner from someone who is not? What are the key attributes of intentional learners?

A Definition for Intentional Learning

In their seminal work on intentional learning, Bereiter and Scardamalia (1989) use the term intentional learning to refer to using strategic thinking "processes that have learning as a goal rather than an incidental outcome" (p. 363). They describe successful intentional learning as the expenditure of effort in pursuit of personal cognitive goals, over and above the requirements of tasks when the tasks could be accomplished by far less expenditure of effort. They suggest intentional learning results from persistent constructive problem solving towards innovation and goal attainment.

The American Accounting Association 1 defines intentional learning as a persistent, continual process to acquire, understand, and use a variety of strategies to improve one's ability to attain and apply knowledge. This process is supported by a questioning spirit and a intentional desire to learn. We describe the process as intentional learning, that is, learning with committed self-directed purpose, intending and choosing to learn and how and what to learn. Intentional learning involves five attributes of learning: questioning, organizing, connecting, reflecting, and adapting."

In the report, Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College,2 states:

Becoming such an intentional learner means developing self-awareness about the reason for study, the learning process itself, and how education is used. Intentional learners are integrative thinkers who can see connections in seemingly disparate information and draw on a wide range of knowledge to make decisions. They adapt the skills learned in one situation to new problems encountered in another—in a classroom, the workplace, their communities, and their personal lives. As a result, intentional learners succeed even when instability is the only constant.2

The report also notes:

The intentional learner is empowered through intellectual and practical skills; informed by knowledge and ways of knowing; and responsible for personal actions and civic values... Mastery of a range of abilities and capacities empowers intentional learners as they maneuver in and shape a world in flux.... Intentional learners possess a core of knowledge, both broad and deep, derived from many fields... Through discussion, critical analysis, and introspection, intentional learners come to understand their roles in society and accept active participation.2

Three aspects of intentional learning are the (1) decision to engage in committed, persisted learning effort (self-motivation), (2) the ability to apply and manage strategic cognitive efforts to achieve goals (self-direction), and the (3) extent to which the learner takes responsibility for learning autonomously. Intentional learning depends on one's conception of knowledge, how to connect meaning and use that knowledge to act or create, and the learner's perception of the intended task, activity, or instructional situation. Intentional learners choose to be in charge of their learning. In an intentional learning environment, the teacher's role is to mentor or coach and the learner's role is to question, connect, reflect, and apply knowledge to create, act, and achieve.


Scroll to Top


The Trainer's Guide to Learning Theories and Their Practical Application to Training Design
Edited by Dr. Sue Stein and Shannan Farmer

This valuable resource contains seventeen chapters, each written by experts and each addressing a different learning theory. This book was written for both the experienced trainer who has formally studied learning theory and the new trainer who may have come from a subject-matter-expert background and may not have been exposed to any learning theories. More information?

Also included:
Martinez, M. (2004). Adaptive Learning: Research Foundations and Practical Applications. In S. Stein, S. and S. Farmer. (Eds.), Connotative Learning. Washington D.C.: IACET.


Scroll to Top


Shrader, V., Parent, S., & Breithaupt, D. (2004). Factors for Success: Characteristics of Graduates in an Online Program. Western Governors University.
Our institution has graduated over 120 students in a Master of Arts in Learning and Technology degree program since the program began matriculating students in the fall of 1999. For most of these last few years, we have been in a program building mode, setting up a framework of learning resources, developing a learning community, and smoothing out many of the wrinkles that new programs invariably encounter. Now that a number of graduates have completed the program we are able to conduct institutional research and examine ways to make the whole process more efficient and refined for students. The goal is to help our students be successful online learners. For this study we have posed the following research questions:

1. What are significant predictors of successful online graduates? If we can define the characteristics that make people successful in our programs we can leverage that knowledge in helping our existing and future students.

2. What are factors that facilitate time to completion? If we can identify what works best to keep students progressing, they are more likely to graduate expeditiously.

3. What are some appropriate strategies for working with different group profiles, and how do we develop an approach of what to do for specific individuals? Much of this will be based on learning orientation theory (Martinez, 2004) and also our own experience working with students.

Mingming, J., Shrader, V., Parent, S. An In-Depth Look at Strategies for Mentoring Online Adult Learners. Western Governors University.
This paper presents results of a qualitative analysis of mentor support for distant adult learners in a web-based learning environment. It combines two sources of date: emails mentors sent to their students and mentors' reflections about mentoring students in a Master of Arts of Learning and Technology program at Western Governors University (WGU). By examining the data from these sources, we gained insights into our mentoring practices and hoped to find useful strategies for helping students progress in a timely and successful manner through our program. Western Governors University implements a model that separates assessment from instruction, which means that its faculty (the mentors) do not directly deliver instruction. Students take online courses offered by other universities, know as Education Providers. The responsibilities of the WGU mentors are to provide academic guidance, advising, and tutoring to WGU students through their programs. Mentoring activities range from designing a preferred path, preparing students for assessments, reviewing portfolio projects, and serving as Chair for students' Capstone Committees. Mentoring is conducted via email, listserv, and telephone. The main communication channel between students and mentors is email. Understanding student learning orientations has made mentoring more effective.

Molinari, D. (2004). The Stress of Online Learning: An Experiment. Washington State University.
A feasibility study compared stress levels of 39 nursing students learning how to author a database with ACCESS either in isolation or in a group setting with an instructor. The ability of continuous cardiopulmonary data and three salivary cortisol samples to compare the online learning stress indicates new technologies can inform science. All students experienced stress overtime and statistically significant differences between the two groups were found. An allostatic learning model developed that permits study of biophysical, environmental, and instructional variables simultaneously. Also:

Molinari, D. L., Anderberg, E., Dupler, A., Lungstrom, N. (2005). Learning Orientation and Stress in an Online Experience. Howard, C., Boettchr, J. & Justice, L Encyclopedia of Online Learning and Technology. Hershey, Penn.: Idea Group Inc. Significant correlations were found between stress and learning orientations.

Molinari, D.L., Blad, P. & Martinez, M. (2005). Seniors Learning Preferences, Healthy Self-care Practices and Computerized Education Implications. The Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, 5(1) - Spring 2005.
Health promotion uses an increasing amount of Internet-based education. Understanding seniors' learning orientation and self-care practices can inform instructional designers how to use the Internet with this population. A correlational descriptive study of community-based seniors’ (n=87) learning orientation and healthy self-care practices was conducted in a western state. Implications for Internet-based health promotion include associations between rural and urban location, age, health condition, self-care practices, informational preferences, and learning orientation factors. Difference between urban and rural populations and illness severity were identified. Respondents used the Internet as much as they did television and friends for health promotion materials.
Transforming learners used the Internet while conformers did not and yet conformer learners performed the most self-care practices. Implications for designing differentiated health promotion materials based upon learning orientations are discussed.

Colin, M. (2005). LOQ Case Study. Loyola Marymount University.
At the beginning of the Fall 2004 semester, students took the Learning Orientation Questionnaire (LOQ), a 25-item online survey that identifies an individual’s orientation to learn. The students were a fairly typical set of university students (most of them were performing or conforming – with one resistant student who actually (with encouragement) turned out to be one of the best students in the class). From previous experience, the professor realized that she was really teaching her course too much at the “intuitive” level and that her students were not comprehending or doing well on her big-picture, complex, project-level assignments. We decided that she should cater a bit more to the “performing” students and see if she could encourage them to think a bit more out-of-the-box. She wanted them not to be so anxious or concerned about what would give them a good grade on the assignment. To help, she gave them some examples of acceptable project outcomes from previous semesters and made a rubric that gave them an idea of what she was looking for and grading in their projects.

The Teaching Strategies for Project-Based Courses developed by Mindy Colin, Instructional Technology Analyst at Loyola Marymount University uses learning orientation foundations.

Fuller, T. (2005). Students Learning Demand: An Overview. Northern Arizona University.
Students' visits at a learning center could be considered observable and measurable part of students' learning demand. Students are visiting the learning centers for some form of learning assistance; therefore, learning demand is directly connected with the zone of proximal development. The date, time distributions and patterns of students' visits at a learning center are used to interpret the fine structure and dynamics of students' learning demand. For educational purposes the most important concept is what part of students' learning demand requires assistance outside of the classroom and what part could be addressed in the classroom. The study's part one considers
students' learning demand for three courses of developmental mathematics. The study shows that the demand for learning assistance decreases in the learning process although the intellectual challenge is increasing as students advance from arithmetic to college algebra. This finding is in agreement with Bodrova and Leong's research on the zone of proximal development (1998). In the second part of this study, the fine texture of students' learning preferences is discussed as it acts upon and shapes the learning demand. The problem of students' learning preferences is researched with a Learning Orientations Questionnaire (Copyright © 1997-2005, Margaret Martinez). Knowing students learning orientations is a one way to find the individuals' impact on learning demand. This part of the study provides information about some patterns in the learning demand due to students' Learning Orientations.

Magoulas, G. & Sherry, Y. (2004). Individual Differences in Adaptive Hypermedia. Chen (Eds.) in Proceedings of the AH 2004 Workshop. The Workshop on Individual Differences in Adaptive Hypermedia is part of the 3rd International Conference on Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-based Systems that was held from August 23 to August 26, 2004, at The Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. The Workshop explores how to embrace the various dimensions of individual differences into adaptive hypermedia, and investigates the impacts of individual differences on the design, implementation and use of adaptive hypermedia systems. Individuals differ in traits such as skills, aptitudes and preferences for processing.

Gordon, D. & Bull, G. (2004). The Nexus Explored: A Generalised Model of Learning Styles. Dublin Institute of Technology.
The controversy over learning style (the unique way of thinking and reasoning that characterises an individual learner) as to whether or not it is a stable cognitive factor is one which has raged on for a number of years, and has been reinvigorated recently with the advent of easy-to-use courseware development tools and the consequent development of virtual learning environments. This paper surveys a number of different learning styles models and it concludes there is a large degree of commonality between the different theories, which allows us to distil key or core learning style characteristics which point the way to a number of styles of teaching which should be addressed in every learning environment. A model of this core set of dimensions is presented which unifies the various learner styles presented by others.

Prakash Pillai R. (2004). A Study on Learning Orientation and HRD Climate In Banks. University of Kerala. Training as a competency building measure has a prominent role in the contemporary era. Today’s organizations are facing many challenges such as greater competition in terms of product and cost, innovation, export, customer satisfaction, quality of service as well as attracting and retaining competent personnel. In order to survive in these conditions the organizations are required to be more productive, quality conscious, customer oriented and constantly updating in skills of its employees (Biswas 1999:313-14). Thus organizations are forced to invest huge amount on account of training and development. But, then as some studies indicate, there are certain dysfunctional perceptions about the training and learning. Training days are usually paid holidays, nomination to training programme is a punishment, and to be nominated to training one must be idle or influential (Krishna et al, 1993). Rao’s version was that training has become more of a perk. All these point to the unsystematic approach in the execution of training programmes and question the climate of learning and development in the organization. The other side that merits further exploration are the initiative and orientation of the employees take to learn. Are they really interested in learning? If so what kind of learning orientation they do have?. These are some questions to be dealt with. The banking sector in Kerala is currently facing many challenges in the pretext of greater competition and “right sizing”. In this context the present study attempts to deal with the learning orientation of employees and HRD climate prevailing in banks.

The major objectives of the study include:
- study the nature of human resource development climate prevailing in banks
- analyse the type of learning orientation of employees therein.
- identify the significant factors influencing the learning orientation.
- assess the influence of HRD climate on learning orientation.

Research questions: 1. A good HRD climate stimulates the learning orientation of employees.
2. Managers in Banks are of predominantly performing learners whereas the non-managers belong to the category of conforming learners.

Scroll to Top


Are you learners ready to learn?