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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?


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    Mar 25 2013: John,
    I am in the midst of this problem as well. I am taking a few ideas and trying to combine them. The ideas are still in the infancy so I will throw them out there and we can see if we can solidify them.

    Jane McGonigal in her talk about games talks about the +1 idea.. +1 health, or +1 intelligence. The idea is that we get some sort of instant reward in gaming. I like that idea and have been thinking of a way to apply it to self learning.

    In my work I recently switched from a very task oriented style to a much more open ended project style. The difficulty is in the mind set. Have a task, compete a task, and at the end of the day we feel like we accomplished something. With projects you go home thinking " I answered 5 emails, worked on a folder, and got some pricing. I did not do anything!" The trick someone taught me is to treat projects more like tasks with milestones ie. make the 5 emails and folder, tasks to be completed..... then check them off as completed.... simply a mind game, but it helps with that feeling of not doing anything.

    The last component I am playing with is an end result to be achieved. eg. I will be a concert pianist or a level 6 spanish speaker. With this in mind you can then work backwards from your time frame to setup a goal, using the procedure task method and with some form of +1 rewards (still do not know how I will do that)

    The testing can be done with private tutors. It was not to difficult to find piano teachers that will give one lesson a month or one every 6 months. They can then assess your level, give you pointers and remark how well you are doing (or not doing).

    I also found language tutors willing to do the same. Outside of that there is for groups with similar interests. So you may meet with them, speak a foreign language, or discuss math, whatever. And they can let you know of you progress.
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      Mar 27 2013: I think the matter of self-evaluation of learning is much less challenging if one accepts feedback from others who may know more in an area than you do.
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    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.
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        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.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 25 2013: Learning isn't a contest. There is no "end". It's a journey.

    I justify my self education as being better than university because m self-education is extremely broad based, whereas those in universities are specialty based. I have also uncovered so many lies that were taught me in school because the Internet now makes documentary evidence I didn't know existed available. If I were to take a test in American history, for example, I would have to lie to pass the test. We weren't educated. We were indoctrinated. The fact that I know that and can prove it is evidence of successful education in American history.
    • Mar 27 2013: Bravo. I have learned to erase or see through myths from the Bible to Columbus to Washington to WMD, no offense to myths, which can be excellent learning tools if you consider the source. His Story means one man compiled a story. Man is flawed and errors. Misinterpretation, Manipulation, Posterity, and "Dogma" seep into the story, sometimes despite the best effort of the author. The fallibility of Oral History makes any story originating from this to be "taken with a grain of salt"-Jesus or to "separate the wheat from the chaff"-Jesus. Because I know this, I believe very little about the story of Jesus (or the book that tells his story). I believe a Hebrew existed, called Ieosus Khrystos by the Greeks, possibly baptized and likely executed. I believe this man was a Philosopher, no more or no less. Do I believe "Saint" Augustine got everything right 300 years later? Where there ulterior motives for making the story "fit" a certain theme? Did he have all the facts and if not, did he likely "guess"? There is little or no historical evidence to prove this account, especially because Jesus wrote nothing. Only 5 of the 12 apostles were used, with the other 7 having conflicting accounts to what is accepted in the Bible. I believe the Gospel of Thomas was ordered to be destroyed because it said Jesus used violence, likely even killing 2 people. Ironically, killing in the name of God has been prevalent since the day Augustine finished his Magnum Opus, including Columbus and the Conquistadors that followed. Whether taking slaves or eliminating tribes or invasion of Iraq, somehow all justified by God, or so we are told. By one Man. History is the cherry tree that gets chopped down, if only for "pragmatic" reasons of the author
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    Mar 25 2013: well, I like self-learning because you don't have to learn as much about a subject as you would in a class, and you can choose the certain aspects of a subject that interest you. So it's not the speed that I would compare to university learning, it's the nature of the learning. The self-learner's way of tracking progress I would think is whether they are answering the questions that caused them to delve into a subject.
    • Mar 25 2013: Definitely *one* of the many great reasons to self-learn. I wasn't stating speed was the only reason, but one of the big ones for me personally.

      As for "answering your own questions," sure that is a method of tracking progress, but my original question still stands as to what to measure this progress against.
  • Mar 25 2013: This is not organized so maybe it shouldn't be measured except Do you know what you are talking about?
    • Mar 25 2013: I don't quite understand your question (statement?). I am talking about measuring progress of self-learning as there is no scale or measurement standard to judge how well you are doing. These systems exist in place for universities and other educational institutes in the form of projects/exams.

      So I'm essentially just asking, by what standard can I measure my own rate of self-learning? And once I have some unit or method of measuring, how do I know if I am doing WELL?
  • Mar 27 2013: I believe Self Directed Learning (SDL) has a powerful intrinsic value. I benefit from a well rounded understanding of the subject, while seeking many "teachers" for that subject. Pace is important because at times I have to avoid overload, which is as detrimental as too little info. More than anything pace is usually faster than "normal" with SDL. I learned more about Locke than a college student, in the same amount of time as spring break. I believe I have the necessary knowledge to qualify for multiple degrees and minors and yet I do not posses a high school diploma. There is no quantification for this type of education and until our nonprofit universities figure out a way to profit from people like me, there will be no programs that would help to prove or disprove this "theory". I have created the Philosophy of Philosophy (PHoPH) that has the Principles: Conscious Conscience, Common Unity, and the Wisdom of Wisdom as the educational nexus. Science is the knowledge of Nature, Physics is the Nature of Nature. Philosophy is the love of Wisdom and PHoPH is Wisdom of Wisdom. First we must learn the Logic of Logic (learn how to learn), next the Wisdom of Wisdom, and then the Theory of Theory (Abstract). If you are taking Remedial English in college, you are, in all probability, stuck at the Perception level of learning. In order to tell if someone is "educated" we are just "judging the book by the cover". Speed is very subjective, with varying abilities for different subjects. Comprehension capabilities differ amongst students, making a consistent speed of learning difficult, except maybe the average students. We have the same education system for at least a century, but until we educate the educator to teach cognitive learning, we will continue to lose this battle, if we were ever winning to begin with. The ancients seemed to be very intelligent, but maybe the dumb ones outproduced the smart ones, for in that case, there is no hope. Revolution to Evolution in EDU.
  • Mar 26 2013: John do you want something like Courseria or standard exams.