Part 5: Refinement
This is the part where you kick back and revel in the laurels bestowed upon your great work. Oops. Not just yet. Now the real work begins. As long as the motivation holds up, learning continues to happen. When you apply or use your knowledge and understanding (see part 4), you should receive feedback. Some feedback may be self-imposed in terms of your own metacognition, and other feedback may be external, coming from the medium you are working in (such as adaptive feedback software) or people who have input based on their interactions with you. Feedback is a multi-layered issue with myths aplenty, so I won’t go in-depth for the sake of the focus of this post and series.
Refining what you know and what you do helps you to continue making improvements, both in practical physical skills (if they apply) and in cognitive capabilities based on acquired knowledge. Perhaps information you gleaned and used did not pan out, so you take the results of the use and redirect them to altering your future uses of the information. This is a cycle that will continue as long as you want it to as a learner. Gilman points out that tracking your progress can be a good way of setting bar higher for yourself as you move forward. It helps you know when you’ve reached your limit and when you can push a bit harder. From a teaching perspective, this might warrant some further investigation into Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Read Saul McLeod’s post about it.
It is worth noting, as Gilman did, that the process of refinement and feedback need to change from time to time. While red ink on the draft of a paper might be tried-and-true, mixing it up a bit might provide the giver of feedback and the learner more perspective. Maybe the draft needs to be chunked instead of dealt with all at once. Maybe it could be blown up poster size, cut into sentence strips, or read aloud and recorded. Sometimes hearing it back can give you the “ah ha!” moment you’ve been looking for. Be creative, and let the learner be creative in searching for ways to better their ideas and attempts in learning. This is how we grow as learners instead of stagnating as knowers.