Learning Model

Auditory and Visual Pathways and Levels of Abstraction

Concrete to Abstract

The basic Learning Model above shows the visual and auditory pathways bringing perceptual information to the brain. These data are then translated into forms of information that are experienced as visual or verbal, and much else. These become integrated into working memory, and if significant, long term memory. Learning may become more abstract as the mind interprets information conceptually, either using language or fluid, visual-spatial reasoning. Ultimately learners following a discipline may engage in more abstract levels of ideation.

"Learning Languages"

The diagram may be a basis for understanding that while some enjoy the language side of learning, others prefer the visual side, and that each of these modes spans concrete through abstract levels. Of course we use all of these, but the degree of emphasis given to each differs between individuals. If one's teaching mode is mainly linguistic, with little reliance upon visual-spatial patterns and models, then those students who learn in the same way will probably be performing the best in the class. By acknowledging that alternate modes exist beyond one's own preference, the need of integrating multi-modality instruction into one's course is evident.

Potential Abilities

Not mentioned here due to the 2D effect is the realm of sensory-motor processing, including both tactile (small motor) and kinesthetic (large motor) modalities. While the above is a general model based upon standardized measures in part, it is stimulating to imagine what other abilities exist that elude "measurement". The above is certainly not all-inclusive. Do our students raised in the information revolution bring abilities to education that we need to be aware of?

The Learning Cycle

The following learning cycle integrates areas mentioned both in Bloom's (and others') taxonomies and in the field of cognitive processing. It begins with holding concentrated attention, the task fundamental to all learning, and moves through comprehension, conceptualization and practical application, which, as a whole, forms a cycle of learning, as questions lead to more questions, and knowledge involves self-reference and self-knowledge.

The assumption is that the more we integrate the ways to develop the cognitive processes into lesson plans, the more we will assist students in developing and refining those processes which are prerequisites to many academic tasks, thus contributing to student success. The ways suggested below are meant as components to be included in teacher-custom-designed lessons, not as substitutes for the teacher's lesson.

Learning Cycle

Process - followed by - Ways to further develop that specific process

Concentrated Attention

Reflection; active listening; reading; journals; computer-assisted instruction; drawing; making oneself responsible for presenting information to others or accountable in some important way


Paraphrasing and summarizing information from lectures, readings, discussions, etc.; understanding vocabulary; apprehending information from effort (SQ5R: Survey, Question, Read, Record, Recite, Review and Reflect); annotating

Organizing Information

Categorizing; concept formation; a structured notetaking method (i.e., the Cornell 6-R method: Record, Reduce, Recite, Reflect, Review, Recapitulate); outlining chapters; making a table of contents; creating diagrams and/or mnemonigrams (pictures integrating important key concepts from notes and lectures to use in preparation for tests)


Noting similarities and differences; culling out essentials from particulars; conceptual analysis (levels from abstract to concrete); concept diagram; linguistic analysis using criteria from class; visual mapping and/or outlining; problem analysis; task analysis (applied to any type of lesson, text structure, system or process); analyzing data in light of rules, formulae, hypotheses or predictions; analyzing cases in light of chosen principles


Putting whole together; identifying patterns and relationships; devising graphic organizers illustrating integrated network of ideas; developing theories; thinking through problem and devising possible alternative solutions; creating a new model, product or method

Reasoning/ Evaluation

Coming to conclusions about data, patterns and interpreting ideas using criteria or logic of discipline; syllogistic and other structured reasoning; elements of reasoning; justifying conclusions with reasons; selecting best solution to problem using criteria; evaluating reasoning


Imagining, thinking through, and planning, how to use or test ideas, theories, solutions in life and doing so; considering implications of reasoned plan; using feedback and lessons gained from trying to apply ideas in life; reflection

Metacognition/ Self-Evaluation

Being aware of self as learner (how one learns, strengths, limitations, and style), the requirements of the setting or given task, and choosing a strategy to fulfill task; monitoring how it works and making adjustments; devising executive strategies; writing about one's goals and how one progresses toward actualizing goals in a journal; devising checklists tailored to one's situation and learning profile; monitoring own progress by keeping a log of grades, points, feedback from teachers, checklists, inventories, quizzes, tests, and any other helpful information to use as feedback for self-assessment; designing questions to ask of teachers, tutors and mentors to gain feedback and suggestions


Seeing self as a lifelong learner capable of selecting and enacting a self-chosen discipline; journal keeping in some form to record lessons and foster assimilation