1. What are expert learners?

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1. Strategic, goal-directed learners.  They formulate plans for learning, devise effective strategies and tactics to optimize learning; they organize resources and tools to facilitate learning; they monitor their progress toward mastery; they recognize their own strengths and weaknesses as learners; and they abandon plans and strategies that are ineffective.

2. Resourceful, knowledgeable learners. They bring considerable prior knowledge to new learning; they activate that prior knowledge to identify, organize, prioritize and assimilate new information. They recognize the tools and resources that would help them find, structure, and remember new information; and they know how to transform new information into meaningful and useable knowledge.

3. Purposeful, motivated learners.  Their goals are focused on mastery rather than performance; they know how to set challenging learning goals for themselves and how to sustain the effort and resilience that reaching those goals will require; they can monitor and regulate emotional reactions that would be impediments or distractions to their successful learning.


79 Responses to 1. What are expert learners?

  1. This is excellent. We are an educational foundation currently putting a framework on STEM being utilised for social action project for learner cantered programs.
    We would like to use some of your contents in our blogs and websites and possibly a collaboration.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Cindy Hanson says:

    Engaging all students for Common Core hasn’t been easy. It’s a struggle with today’s distractions (for example, video games.) Some students are preoccupied mentally with what they plan to do after school, Homework and practice is set aside. Busy parents are frustrated with the time it takes for the child to complete their homework. Timing is an issue in the class and at school. Moving students from low learners to expert is very challenging. I don’t believe it is impossible, however it takes all year to get some students motivated and self driven. Never give up trying!!!

  3. Susan Childs says:

    Keeping students to stay motivated is essential…it is finding that spark…what will motivate them to learn.

  4. Gabrielle Tatum says:

    Expert learners are those learners that want to be successful on their first go round of learning. This may take some time. Teachers must provide challenges to students want to be expert. However, expert learners should accept failure at some points because it helps them to succeed.

  5. Ellen says:

    Expert learners are strategic, goal-directed; they strategize/plan for maximum learning. Resourceful, knowledgeable; they know how to transform new information into meaningful knowledge. Purposeful, motivated; the focus is on mastery rather than performance.

  6. Otis says:

    I have been teaching for 20 years now. Everyday I see two primary differences in my students. Those who want to learn and those who do not. I try very hard to make sure my expectations are high for both and I try to find ways that would at least make students want to learn. Those students who really want to do well are usually my advanced students, and I try to challenge them with a deeper understanding of the material. With the other students, I often see in them that they really want to be able to do the work, but find it very difficult. Many times however, I am able to help them have some success by patience, and different approaches during one on one. Once they have a little success I am able to see them want to do more.

  7. Michelle Siles says:

    Expert learners are those students that want to learn and are willing to learn. The teacher’s responsibility is to provide those opportunities and strategies for all students.

  8. Michelle Siles says:

    Expert learners are those students that want to learn and willing to learn. I also think expert learners develop strategies to assist them in learning. The teacher’s responsibility is to provide the opportunities and strategies for their students.

  9. Pat says:

    My experience teaching Honors students (many with disabilities) has shown me their resilience to learn the most challenging material I can provide for them. They love a challenge & like to compete with other students to come up with the correct answer first.

  10. Wanda says:

    Teaching students in high school brings many challenges. Some students lack motivation. It is important to build relationships with our students on a daily basis. As teacher we should provide meaningful lessons and the opportunity of differentiated instruction.

  11. Celeste Simoff says:

    A great deal of planning and preparation goes into meeting the needs of all of our students. Teaching them to learn and keeping them motivated without frustration is key…both of us and, primarily, them.

    • Celeste Simoff says:

      Expert learners are those learners are those that are highly motivated learners and recognize where their strengths and weaknesses are and how to best employ various strategies, etc. that will help them learn best and not become frustrated or unmotivated because it is too hard or whatever thoughts cross their minds. It is up to us to make sure we are finding how to best ensure the become a life long expert learner.

  12. meredith schott says:

    I think the goal for all teachers is to help students become expert learners. I think this is more important in our current culture. With new information accessible to people at any time through technology it becomes increasingly important for people to be able to read and apply information they have learned.

  13. Rosa Rodriguez says:

    We must model, scaffold content and provide opportunities to practice these strategies that can be applied to any topic

  14. Danielle says:

    Expert learners is the ultimate goal as an educator but often the students just want to be done and don’t want to put much effort into their work.

  15. Bernie says:

    During my career as an educator, I found that expert learners are very organized and eager to learn

  16. Bernie says:

    Teaching the students to be a motivated learner, is one of our greatest and most difficult goal. If the students is motivated to learn, he will be goal-directed, resourceful, and will make great effort to learn.

  17. Elizabeth Collins says:

    I find motivation to be pretty easy. My Title 1 students work well for awhile but put the brakes on when it envolves hard work.

  18. Joe Lys says:

    Sometimes I just want to move at the pace of my students. However, I know that I have to move quickly and that makes me sad when I have to leave some students behind.

  19. Sara Reaves says:

    I will not use the word “no” with my students. I am encouraged that they want to participate in the lesson so I use “try again”.

  20. Glynn Riviere says:

    I enjoy watching my children learn from each other and I often learn from them as well. I make sure I tell them that they taught me something and that we are all in this together and all of our hard work will pay off.

  21. Glynn Riviere says:

    I really want to see all my students grasp and learn the material presented. I try to keep the growth mindset that all students can learn, but I also realize that some days, no matter how, what, why, some children may never seem interested or motivated. I never give up hope, though, that they will at least take away something in the process of all my hard work to get them there.

  22. Elie Petion says:

    At a title school, teacher sometimes represents both teacher and parents. It is imperative that we go to the extreme to instill learning. Thus define in a very simple way “expert learners”.

  23. Ivelisse R Viera says:

    Expert learners are resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and goal-directed, and purposeful and motivated. These learners don’t let anything stand in the way of their learning, but rather find ways to get around the obstacles.

  24. carl.holden@ocps.net says:

    Expert learners are self motivated, and this is ultimate level we want all students to reach.

  25. John Rogers says:

    There is a resource website whose name has popped up during this exercise. It is called “Edutopia.” That’s what I think a lot of this is. As a teacher, I want my students to learn, and think that all of them CAN learn, although to differing levels and in differing ways. Put me in a 100-yard dash with a range of octogenarians and high-school track stars, and I’ll beat some and be beaten by others. That’s life. We’re all different, and we can’t pretend we’ll get equality of outcomes, no matter how hard we try. I don’t give up on my laggards. I don’t assume they can do nothing. I may do some different, more creative things to reach them. But in the end, they will get most of what they need or they won’t. I know that’s heresy. But there it is. Anyone who actually teaches, or has in the last ten years–and a lot of them have chimed in above–know that real kids are not like the ideal presented in the UDL and the Marzano templates. Much or most of this is impractical, given the standards that must be covered and the numbers of students we all have. There is neither time nor money nor energy for a daily application of all of these worthy precepts. Much of it is sort of the educational equivalent of calculating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In the end, it will either be ignored, paid lip service to, or cause teachers to leave the profession, as I believe it is doing now.

  26. Carlos Terrero says:

    I like the manner in which the above three points were presented.

  27. Elsa Kaczor says:

    All students are capable of learning is the information is presented to the level of their understanding.

  28. Elsa Kaczor says:

    All students if they are motivated and have the desire to learn, will find the way to accomplish their goals.

  29. Lilliam says:

    In my experience most learners want learning to be simple or easy. But that is not the reality. The process is slow, but but together we will find success.

  30. Ruthann says:

    My students love to learn and think out of the box. When we get off topic, its fun, spontaneous, and hard to get back sometimes. We do, and then they say, thank you, we learn so much.. Great feeling.

  31. Karla Vinson says:

    I feel that most learners want to have fun and engaging. They want to get their learning objective done and over with as quickly as possible.

  32. Ruth Lodispoto says:

    In my experience most learners want learning to be simple and quick. Their learning objective, too often, is “to be done as fast as possible.”Unfortunately, it is not quality work.

  33. Christine says:

    I already did this.

  34. Christine says:

    I have very resistant students at the High School level.

  35. Christine says:

    Great reflections

  36. sandra Montgomery says:

    I agree, most learners want things to come quick and fun.

  37. patrice says:

    Children will learn if they are given the time to process when the curriculumn is appropriately presented

  38. swimmer70 says:

    Share simple and quick

  39. Lucille Gillam says:

    Learning can be fun, even when difficult, if you create a bridge between their prior knowledge and the new knowledge. Being able to help them transfer this knowledge to other curriculum can help them build academic self-efficacy.

  40. Sarah Williams says:

    I agree, they want everything to be learned so fast! Learning takes time and much practice. We need to slow down and give kids information in digestible bites.

  41. Glenn Riccio says:

    I agree with Cam. We are in a society where we need the results now. My students are no different. They want me to just give the answer to a question that was posed to them. They don’t want to think, they just want the answer. It’s tough to steer them into thinking for themselves.

  42. Tasheika W says:

    Hi Cam, i definately agree with Common Core the assessments are very rigorous and unfortunately many times our lesson can be presented in a very intense way to match the skill that students will be asssessed on. However that’s where digestible bites come into play. 🙂

  43. Doris Torres says:

    I loved Norma Bishop’s response to her students when she attempts to demonstrate different methods for solving a problem. Her statement, “I never expected a teacher’s capacity to be pitied could be an effective learning tool” is funny and true. As educators, we try it all in the hopes of reaching our students.

  44. Patty McKenna says:

    I work at a Title I school and many of my children come to school not only lacking in academic areas, but have little support systems at home. I’ve come to recognize that even though they might not get any support at home from parents and that some of their focus is on their empty stomachs instead of learning, I still need to have high expectations for them. I’m enjoying learning about presenting materials in many ways. My hope, now that the state is requiring more digital instruction, is that my kids will be able to bridge the learning gap that is in part due to the lack of resources in their homes and at our school.

  45. S. Richeson says:

    Most teachers expect students to learn and achieve success.

  46. Mark Lansing says:

    Every student is reachable and teachable. A mind set of never giving up on a student is essential in reaching those tough kids that seem to have little or no hope. Taking this philosophy and applying to Expert Learning is the next step. Not only are those tough kids able to learn, they are able to acquire the skills necessary to become expert learners. I had never gone this far philosophically and have been satisfied with just reaching the tougher kids at a rudimentary level. My challenge to make them reach the next level of Expert Learner.

  47. Barbara Lansing says:

    Expert learners are our students who we hope to instill the desire to learn and grow whether it is an academic lesson or a life lesson. Giving our students the skills to learn no matter their walk in life or things that might hold them back is our purpose as teachers. It is so satisfying to see the light bulb come on even in the smallest of situations. This indicates that we are making a difference in their lives.

  48. Joe Gillespie says:

    Expert learning appears to be best summed up in the terms motivated and purposeful. I believe the instructor plays a key role in developing this; however, the intrinsic motivation implied in being motivated and purposeful needs to be generated by the student through his or her experiences. I struggled mightily with math in high school, but I tried because that is what was expected of me as a student by my father. Just a few short weeks into my first year, my father went to a Back to a School night where my Algebra teacher told him, “He just doesn’t have it for Math.” I did not know what that meant, but I did little for my motivation. In fact, it destroyed my motivation.

    • Alex Vvan Grondelle says:

      The instructor does play an important role, especially when trying to find something that will motivate a student. With more encouragement maybe you would have had the motivation to find something in math that helped you succeed.

  49. Leslie Greenwald says:

    Expert learning is all about teaching rigor in the classroom. Rigor involves autonomy and complex challenging tasks. We as educators need to put most of our hard work into the planning of our lessons and let the student “Work harder” during the actual implementation of learning. This allows the students to work in small groups to problem solve, work cooperatively, and make sure everyone has a role to solve the problem together. As teachers,we need to monitor, question, and ensure that each group is making progress towards reaching their goals. Yes, it is difficult to rush learning (especially when we are under the pressure of getting so much material covered in the school year), bu this kind of learning is more effective than any lecture or passive type of information gathering. We need to get our students ready for the real world and deal with real life situations that are meaningful as well as engaging.

    • Doris Torres says:

      I find that the hardest part of center work with groups is that you may have one or two students in a group or two not working to their potential, but placing material and setting up diffentiated material makes for improved participation when students feel that they can at least accomplish a portion of the intended goal.

      • Sonya Jones says:

        I agree! It very beneficial to the learner to be taught in their on cognitive ability. Differentiating the instruction allows a student to learn at their own instructional level so that they can build their capacity in the learning process.

  50. As an instructor in postsecondary education, I have found that there a number of difference types of learners. I find myself utilizing some of the same techniques that I used teaching seven grade in order to get information across. I find that mastery is the key element at this level.

  51. Julia D. says:

    My experience is that I once viewed parents views as a barrier to education but I now know that I have more control over student outcome by changing my views and educating all stakeholders correctly.

    • You truly said a mouthful, I have found that parents are not the enemy but a resource to improve student learning. We must educate all stakeholders.

      • Sylvia says:

        I totally agree with you. Even those parents that you know are not fond of you, make them feel welcome. Like they say, keep your enemies closer. I have an open door policy in my classroom. My parents are always welcome.

  52. Barbara Dodrill says:

    Working at a Title I schools brings many challenges. Students do not always have the background knowledge and skills they need. It is our job to build relationships so they feel confident to try and the more successful they become the more confident they become. Learning takes place when they are willing to be risk takers and find joy in their learning.

  53. Karen Smith says:

    As an art teacher, these concepts apply very directly because art in itself is a visual alternative to learning and can effect so many different learners in so many different levels.

  54. Interesting observation, Norma. I often find myself in that same predicament.

  55. Kim Reynolds says:

    Expert learners are able to set challenging goals for themselves. goals. I find that most students want instant gratification and don’t want to go through the normal processes it takes to master concepts. If it doesn’t come easy for them they give up very quickly.

  56. Tamara Bird says:

    We, as teachers, need to make sure students know we are learners, too. Often, we can learn from them…if we allow ourselves. This way they can realize the importance of learning.

  57. Ariana Williams says:

    I agree with Cam. More often than not learners these days want to be told how to learn rather than learn independently. This is a cultural problem in the UK created by the endless need for schools and colleges to look good in league tables. The whole point of teaching is to provide a foundation by which a person learns a subject but now it has become teaching to pass exams/assessments for the sole purpose of statistics. Its a shame because it makes teachers jobs harder as they need to attempt to ‘engage’ the learner in a topic because they feel ‘you’ should be doing all the work (The teacher), not themselves. My area is FE and HE so it is different to primary and secondary education where subjects are compulsory rather than chosen.

  58. […] UDL approach recognizes that in order to help all students become “expert learners“, who are strategic, self-regulated, and reflective, it will need to “embrace” […]

  59. sherryle Jackson says:

    Expert Learner seems very pie in the sky, but the comments reveal that we have students who don’t rally know what learning is. I was struck by the comments “mastery rather than performance.” It is my beleif that you demonstrate mastery through performance. I’d be interested to see how the expert learner plays a part in the UDL structure

  60. David Scott says:

    I am a high school paraeducator. My daughter had this sticker on her bedroom door ‘Failure is Not An Option’. Like Mary McCAll says, ‘shut down’ mode is common after receiving a failing grade. I believe that low grades should be viewed like the gas gage on your car; got some knowledge , need more. The car runs just fine on half a tank, but you need to top it off if you want to go very far.
    I work with a teacher who gives grades in class every day for ‘work accomplished’. It is reward and accountability each day. She has a grade-assignment sheet for each week. There is a box after Mondays assignment that says “8” possible/ then she puts the actual that they earned. They must take it home Friday and have their parents sign it.
    In this case, the goal for the students in our class might be to be able to ‘go out’ this weekend.And, by the way, if they happen to learn a little math along the way,it can’t hurt a thing!

  61. Mary McCall says:

    Cam, As a special educator who support students with learning disabilities, I know first hand what you mean by, “to be done as fast as poosible”. I see this with the learners, but also with some teachers who need to get through the curricula in a given time period. My belief is to let them (the students) learn something, which can be different for each child, before throwing new material at them. I see many students ‘shut down’ before the mid term of a trimester. Why shouldn’t they? The curricula moves quicker than they can absorb it and then they are penalized with failing grades on tests. How about what they did learn? It’s like it doesn’t matter because they failed to learn all of it. Maybe they have learned most of it, but were not given the opportnity to demonstrate that because of ‘one size fits all” assessments.

  62. April says:

    I am a student teacher and during my secondary practicum I found that many students were so disconnected from learning that it was difficult to get them to even want to learn. It was more like they wanted the information to pass, but did not understand the difference of actually learning.

  63. Norma Bishop says:

    Cam, you raise a good point. I am high school teachers and see this insistence on speed a lot. Often it occurs when we started a new area of study, students seem to get confused between knowing and learning. The uncertainty of not yet knowing makes them jumpy but rather than go back over new material or talk it out with other students they speed up and confuse fast with accurate. Once they fail at the outset they are comfortable with giving up. It’s a real struggle to get them to study new material interactively. After a week or so a MIRACLE occurs, they KNOW the material and it seems they feel that they always KNEW it. No, Eureka’s! Worse, no generalization to the next NEW section. EXPERT LEARNERS are those students who recognize the process within themselves, and use that knowledge to actively learn. This stage may start for a few around 10th grade, more widespread by 11th and 12th. I don’t think it becomes automatic for most students until 2nd and 3rd year in college.

    My concern is with teachers who are annoyed because the students resistance at the outset.. Persisting in giving students more ways to approach a problem when the student has firmly declined is frustrating. When students catch me presenting the same material in different ways, I look sheepish and agree with them. But I go on to explain that I know they would understand it, IF I could just find the right way to present. I encourage them to laugh at my pathetic efforts and soon they are telling me where I am wrong and how to better explain it to them. I never expected a teacher’s capacity to be pitied could be an effective learning strategy.

  64. Cam Caldwell says:

    My experience is that most learners want learning to be simple and quick. Their learning objective, too often, is “to be done as fast as possible.”

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