learning levels of

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Levels, or types, of learning inform us as to the process of learning that may, or needs to, be taking place in particular instances or situations. For example, single loop learning is equated with strategic planning while double loop learning is equated with strategic thinking, which is an integral part of strategy formation. To help make sense of the various terms and ideas about learning, several types of learning are organized into a levels-of-learning construct below.

Levels of learning Source: Heracleous, 2003, 42-46. --
Batson (Bateson, G., 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind, London: Intertext: 293), applying Bertrand Russell's theory of logical types to the concept of learning, differentiated between five types of learning:

  • Zero learning -- specificity of response is not subject to correction.
  • Learning I -- change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives. This is essentially single-loop learning (Argyris, 1977), lower-level learning (Fiol and Lyles, 1985), or adaptive learning (Senge, 1990).
  • Learning II -- a corrective change in the set of alternatives form which choice is made or a change in the punctuation of experience. This is essentially double-loop learning (Argyris, 1977), higher-level learning (Fiol and Lyles, 1985), or generative learning (Senge, 1990).
  • Learning III -- A corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made. [Korn's note: this may be escaping the grip of systems thinking and employing a wholly now construct such as responsive processes.]
  • Learning IV -- Change in the process of learning III, but probably does not occur in any living organism on earth.

Learning I & II -- While there are differences in terminology in all these authors, the central concept common to them all involves on the one hand thinking and acting within a certain set of assumptions and potential action alternatives or on the other hand challenging existing assumptions and action alternatives, potentially leading to new and more appropriate ones.