TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

How does one measure the rate of self-learning? Learning fast at your own pace is great, but by what standard do we measure "fast"?

First of all, know that this is going to be about self-learning via books, talks and various other sources. I know that there are many out there who learn in this fashion, myself being one as well, so this should be a topic of interest for the self-learner.

There are studies and real-life examples of extremely successful self-learners and one cannot deny that being able to find information and solve problems on your own through analysis and self-education promotes intelligence. This following link from wikipedia can give some actual sources of studies done on self-regulated learning:

However, under the "Four Phases of Self-Regulation," (task perception, goal-setting/planning, enacting, adaptation) it is curious that there is no outlined method of MEASURING the progress in which you are obtaining your academical goals. In other words, what should be the unit of measurement for assessing self-learning?

Educational institutes rely on periodical tests/exams (which is a horrid system, imo) yet the self-learner has no solid foundation in which to measure what they are learning in order to track the progress towards their goals. Should it be measured in hours spent making notes and reading? But then I find myself skeptical about implying a linear rate of learning, based on how much time we are spending studying... Then what about how many pages of notes we made? But does that really measure amount we "learnt", or does it just measure how much ink we used on some paper?

The second question is, even if we do somehow find a way to measure "progress of learning," how do we define if we are learning fast enough? One the big reasons I prefer self-learning over dropping loads of money into an educational institute is that I don't have to conform to their rate of teaching/learning. But then at what "speed" of learning, can we justify that what we are doing is better than learning at a university?



Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 25 2013: What to measure depends on your goals. If your goal is to read Tolstoy's works, you will know when you have read them all. If your goal is to learn to use calculus to solve the sorts of problems high school seniors or first year college students do, you can measure your learning by taking and scoring yourself on one of many readily available exams. If you are studying for the medical school admissions test yourself, you can take a practice test from a practice book. If you are learning by yourself to paint in acrylics, you can look at samples of your own work when they are done and ask yourself how much you like them.

    It's different to measure whether you have learned something to your own satisfaction than it is to measure something in a way that might convince someone else of your attainment from self-study. I took your question as assessing for yourself.

    I don't know that there is such a thing as learning fast enough, as that is kind of a matter of taste, unless there is a target date by which you need to know something for a particular scheduled application.
    • Mar 27 2013: "a way that might convince someone else of your attainment from self-study"
      No way will become standard until it can be profited from (or potential profit) and I'm talking about the "non profits". If we took a negative sum approach to education, I believe it would produce positive sum results. As of now we have zero sum approach with negative sum results. Dollar wise, many public systems are in the red, and can only cut to become break even or zero sum. I will "accept" that I am "not educated" if a system is created to prove it. If you ever see something called the "Tabula Rasa Project", you will know at least one person listened. And Learned.
      • thumb
        Mar 27 2013: If you are educating yourself, there is no reason to consider yourself "not educated." In fact, there is a "featured thread" here in which people are asked what the most important thing is they have taught themselves.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.