Principle #3f – Significance

Principle #3f – Significance. That which is to be learned must be significant in some way to the learner. Significant learning experiences are those which claim the attention of the learner, those which are connected to prior experience and knowledge, those which require the exertion of effort, or those which are accompanied by an intensity of sensation or emotion. Significance through meaning can result from repetition (i.e., the establishment of familiarity of a previously unfamiliar pattern, as described in Principle #3a) but may also initiate it. For example, the occasional experience which has a certain novelty, demands great effort, or is accompanied by strong intensity or emotion will often be rehearsed repeatedly in the mind, related in communication with others, and even acted out. Mental rehearsal permits learning with apparently, but not actually, less repetition than might otherwise be expected[1] since internal rehearsal takes the place of external reenactment. As previously noted (Principle #2), significance that stems from novelty, intensity, and effort wanes with repetition, as the mind and body adjust and provide automatic, but temporary, ways of responding.

[1] With greater significance and contrast (Principle #3e), fewer acts of repetition (Principle #3a) are required since once the critical features are understood, it is no longer necessary to discover them.


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