High Performance Learning - Linking

In summary these are a set of characteristics in which learners link things they have learned. It is the ability to see learning as part of a larger scheme as opposed to a series of single events. It is the basis for individuals to construct meaning and understanding.

This is a set of six characteristics about linking what you learn together

The six characteristics are: 

  • Generalisation 
  • Connection finding 
  • Big picture thinking 
  • Abstraction 
  • Imagination 
  • Seeing alternative perspectives. 

These linking characteristics help young people move forward securely and rapidly in their learning. They reduce the amount of time necessary for revision because learners are secure in their knowledge.

1) Generalisation – This is the ability to see what is happening in a particular instance and how it could be applied to other situations. Learners who can do this can see if a rule learned already can be applied to a piece of new learning. Doing this makes learning quicker and more manageable because if someone can spot the universal applicability of something learned they can apply it to something new. 

2) Connection finding – This is the ability to use connections from past experiences to seek possible generalisations. Looking for and making connections is the start of making sense of new knowledge and information. 

3) Big picture thinking – This is the ability to work with big ideas and holistic concepts. A key characteristic of students labelled as gifted is their ability to see the significance of what they are learning and how it connects to the wider world. It is motivational and encourages learners to want to learn even more, to take more interest in what they learn and to become more independent learners. Also, for some, showing how learning fits into a bigger world picture than school and exams is crucial if they are going to engage and succeed. It is a critical part of operating at an advanced level. 

4) Abstraction – This is the ability to move from a concrete to an abstract thought very quickly.You no longer need objects to prove the rule. You can work with an abstract concept, a number or an idea that doesn’t need a physical presence. Abstract learning is essential to high performance. 

5) Imagination – This is the ability to take prior knowledge and apply it to solving problems while thinking beyond the obvious. Imagination is found in all people, but like all the other thinking characteristics, it can be enhanced and developed. Creativity builds learning capability and imagination, and is vital for high performance. 

6) Seeing alternative perspectives – This is the ability to take on the views of others and deal with complexity and ambiguity. Advanced cognitive performance includes the ability to deal with complex and sometimes conflicting ideas. There isn’t always a ‘right’ answer and a learner focused solely on ‘getting it right’ can be held back in developing their thinking and learning. It’s an appreciation that situations can be complex and ambiguous and an ability to see that different answers can be correct in different circumstances or in the outcomes we want to see. 

Extract from  ‘Great Minds and How to Grow Them: High Performance Learning’ by Wendy Berliner and Professor Deborah Eyre

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