Why Should We Learn By Doing?

The reason Learning by Doing works is that it strikes at the heart of the basic memory processes upon which humans rely. Human memory is based in scripts and the generalization of scripts. We learn how to do things and then learn how what we have learned is wrong and right. We learn when our rules apply and when they must be modified. We learn when our rules can be generalized and when to make note of exceptions. We learn when our rules are domain bound or when they can be used independent of domain.

We learn all this by doing, by constantly having new experiences and attempting to integrate those experiences, or more accurately the memory of those experiences, into our existing memory structures. This integration process relies upon new data provided by experience. When new data is simply told to us, we don't know where in memory to put it because we don't really understand the use of that data. When we experience the data ourselves, we also experience, at the same time, other sights, sensations, feelings, remembrances of goals achieved and goals hoped for and so on. In other words, we have enough context to help us to know how to characterize what we have learned well enough to find a place for it in memory and to begin the generalization and exception process.

It follows, then, that what we learn when we Learn by Doing will be details of how to accomplish something in a particular domain (a scriptlet); strategies that are independent of domain (process participation strategies); and the cases that stand alone as exceptions awaiting possible future integration into the memory system. Learning by Doing works because it impacts all these important memory issues.

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