That part of learning about which we know the least is the Affective domain. This is the touchy feeling part of learning which deals with our attitudes and feelings as they impact on our ability to gain knowledge. Our development as individual human beings bears directly upon our learning capability and capacity. As we discuss this domain of learning, you will begin to see just why it is such an imprecise area of expertise.
Once again you will find that the levels of Affective learning are sequential in nature, building one upon the other. They move from basic awareness of something, to making it a part of their chosen attitudes. They then do their job in the newly learned way
Fire Service Instructor tells us that the levels of learning in this domain are:
• Receiving - Becoming aware of a concept
• Responding - Indicating that the concept has been received
• Valuing - Internalizing and committing to some position
• Organizing - Internalizing and adjusting among values
• Characterizing - Adopting and personalizing the concept or value
As you can imagine, there is no scientific way of measuring this type of learning. The manner in which each individual assimilates knowledge as a result of affective learning is different. These differences occur based upon individual personalities and the influences that impacted upon them during their period of growth and maturation.
When I am dealing with the internal aspects of affective learning, it is possible that you may be forced to use clues, rather than measurable performance for your measuring stick. If a person seems to willingly perform the desired task, without threats or coercive measures, than you may infer from these actions that the learning has taken place.
Now that we have covered the ways in which people learn, let us personalize it to the realm of the effective leader as a teacher. Concentrate on remembering the one man or woman that helped you to become the successful fire person you are today.
Think of what they did and how they did it. Remember what it was about them that motivated you to succeed. Say a prayer for them, and for the way in which they shared their knowledge with you. After you have done this, pause again.
Now say a prayer for yourself. Ask the Lord for strength sufficient to carry on the important work of training your fellow travelers in the emergency service world. Ask Him to give you the power to motivate just one person; the person who will carry on your work when you are gone. Having done this, I want to move on to a discussion of motivation and its critical importance in the delivery of knowledge.
It is an axiom of the training world that people will learn better if they perceive that it will be in their best interest to do so. One of the great differences between educating young people and educating adults involves the reasons for the learner being in the learning equation.
Think about how many things you would do differently back in high school, if only you had known what life expected of you. In our case, we would have devoted a greater portion of our time to our work in English and grammar. We would have spent a lot less time in mathematics and study hall. Why? Because of what we now do.
In the same vein, our extracurricular time would have been better spent in the acting and debating world, rather than out on the football field. Our work as an educator and speaker would have been better served. And we wouldn't have two bad knees and a bad back. Although there are many reasons for why we do things, we usually end up where we are in spite of where we would like to have been.
Now that we are all adults, it is important to tell the next generation why things are as they are. But really, what are our chances of success? We need not search too hard for a tremendous example of the frustrations involved in attempting to pass on wisdom as we have gained it.
Just think about the last time you attempted to explain to your teenager why he/she should study harder and do their homework. We have had better success in discussing non-invasive woodworking with a wall. Or so it seems in all of our attempts to reason with teenagers.
But regardless of how hard our experiences seem to be in passing along knowledge and wisdom, take heart. Historical research data tells us one important thing. We will usually have better results with adults. The reasons for this revolve around the concept of motivation. And at the basis of all motivation is human need.
The industrial psychologist Harold Leavitt (1978) said it quite well in his classic text Managerial Psychology, when he stated that "while people are alike, they are also different. They are alike, in that their behavior is caused, motivated and goal directed and their physical equipment is roughly similar. They are different to the extent that they are subject to different kinds of stimulation, ...(and) behave in different ways to achieve ... different goals."
The things that we need (and want) in life create goal driven-behaviors on our part. A need has been described by some experts as a deficiency in our personal being at a give time; something that which, if provided, will make us a whole person again. Perhaps the best description of needs and what they are comes from the work of Abraham Maslow.
During his years with the Air University, he developed an excellent analytical frame of reference with regard to what he perceived needs to be. His Hierarchy of Needs is one of our standard starting points in any discussion of human behavior or its effect on education.
We draw heavily from it for our own training programs.
More about needs and learning next month...