ArticlePDF Available

Repetition is the First Principle of All Learning

Authors:

Abstract

The deepest "aha's" spring from an encounter and then a return. Repeating the encounter fuses it into one's awareness. One of the biggest mistakes a teacher can make is to forego the return or repetition. The learning process is one of slow engagement with ideas; gradually the engagement builds to a critical mass when the student actually acquires the idea. Repetition matters because it can hasten and deepen the engagement process. If one cares about quality of learning, one should consciously design repetitive engagement into courses and daily teaching. To do this well is harder than it seems. This column summarizes some subtle issues around repetition, and offers suggestions for how to proceed.
April 28, 2000
PRESENT VALUE: AN INFORMAL COLUMN ON TEACHING
"Repetition is the First Principle of All Learning"
BY: ROBERT F. BRUNER
University of Virginia
Darden Graduate School of Business Administration
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- T.S. Eliot
The Dry Salvages
The deepest "aha's" spring from an encounter and then a return. Repeating the encounter
fuses it into one's awareness. One of the biggest mistakes a teacher can make is to forego
the return or repetition. The learning process is one of slow engagement with ideas;
gradually the engagement builds to a critical mass when the student actually acquires the
idea. Repetition matters because it can hasten and deepen the engagement process. If one
cares about quality of learning, one should consciously design repetitive engagement into
courses and daily teaching. To do this well is harder than it seems.
A decade ago a friend and colleague said, "Repetition is the first principle of all
teaching." I thought he was kidding, for it seemed to me then, as now, that there were
many other better First Principles: mastery of the material, passion for the subject,
empathy for the learning process, energy, and love of student interaction. But he was
actually quite serious. He challenged me to think of all the ways in which I had learned
because someone had restated or revisited a concept that I thought I had learned, but
which yielded a deeper meaning in the new context. Then it struck me that repetition was
primarily important to learning, rather than teaching. If one adopts a student-centered
teaching approach, repetition will be a very important tactic for enhancing learning.
Over the intervening decade, my friend's words have returned to me in discussions about
teaching and course design. Like the protagonist in the movie, "Groundhog Day," I
seemed fated to relive a conversation relentlessly. This has taught me that repetition is
tough to practice. Teachers and program designers are caught between growth in content,
and the fixed or declining program time available. Virtually all business programs are
striving to cover more content in less time. Managers and students are impatient to get
trained quickly. In short, repetition seems in retreat.
The case to be made for building repetition into your teaching is that it supports a
number of highly important educational goods: self-paced discovery, ability to reflect,
consistency and clarity of thought--these promote deep learning. Of course, too much
PRESENT VALUE
“Repetition is the First
Principle Of all Learning”
Robert F. Bruner
2
repetition has a dark side: boredom, student passivity, rote learning, and a high
opportunity cost--one could be extending the reach of students into new areas instead of
revisiting the old. The teacher needs to find the Goldilocks outcome, neither too much
nor too little repetition.
The way to achieve a sensible balance is to start with a focus on learning rather than
teaching; on the student rather than the teacher; on the ideas rather than the material.
From this new perspective, repetition becomes a tactic to help the student self-teach
ideas.
First, think of the variety of time frames in which to repeat an idea:
An individual class session. One can use openings, middles and summaries to
repeat ideas--"tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell
them what you told them."
A module of classes within a course. Modules are the real building blocks of the
repetitive cycle. One can start a module with an easy case that sketches the
framework, and then gradually deepen students' grasp with successively richer
cases.
Across an entire course. At the opening of the course one can plant ideas or
themes that will be revisited at a number of points throughout the course, and then
become the framework for the crescendo at the close of the course.
Across a multi-course program. Courses can, and should, support one another by
visiting key ideas. A marketing course might use net present value to assess a
strategy. A finance course might teach net present value with attention to
marketing strategy as a value driver. Increasingly, time-compressed program
designers are searching for teaching materials that can teach important concepts in
multiple disciplines.
Second, consider the wide variety of ways in which an idea might be repeated:
By the teacher, orally in class, in writing before or after class, or informally
outside of class.
By the students in class, in learning teams, and out of class.
By the course materials and readings, especially through the artful use of optional
readings.
By a visiting speaker.
PRESENT VALUE
“Repetition is the First
Principle Of all Learning”
Robert F. Bruner
3
By ad hoc serendipitous materials such as newspaper articles, stock price graphs,
cartoons.
The mix of time frames and instruments affords an enormous variety of opportunities to
repeat ideas. Here are five tactics that I have found to be especially useful for harnessing
the power of repetition or student-centered learning.
1. At the start of each class session, invite students to offer their "big aha's" or key
learnings from the previous session. I write these on a side chalkboard, and quite
often refer to them during that day's discussion. This emphasizes the connectivity of
ideas from case discussion to the next.
2. In every few classes, offer some comments on the path of ideas, and how they are
gathering together toward future learnings. I have done this both orally in a few
minutes of class time, and in writing, in the form of module notes--these cover
important ideas, questions, and issues, with the intent of giving students more to
think about, rather than relieving the students of the effort to figure things out for
themselves.
3. Design your course like a story that has a few dominant themes to be repeated
frequently, and a number of subsidiary ideas to be built. Great stories have a
beginning that creates tension or inquiry; a middle that enriches the problem, and an
ending that revisits the tension and resolves it.
4. Carefully choose required readings that send a consistent message with the ideas
repeated elsewhere in the course.
5. Create many small opportunities to reinforce, revisit, and repeat ideas. These might
be in the form of brown-bag lunches where the students pick the topics or simply
arriving early/leaving slowly from class and using the extra time to converse about
important ideas.
Repetition is an important element of learning--maybe not the first element, but much
more important than the current emphases on speed and brevity suggest. Even in the
midst of binding time constraints, look for opportunities to revisit, review, and restate.
Through repetition, students return to where they started, and "know the place for the first
time."
Past columns by Robert Bruner may be found by search at the
SSRN website at:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/search.taf
or by going to his Author Page at SSRN at:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=66030
Copyright © 1999 by Robert F. Bruner and the Trustees of the University of Virginia Darden School
Foundation.
PRESENT VALUE
“Repetition is the First
Principle Of all Learning”
Robert F. Bruner
4
... Hence, for quality of learning, one should consciously design repetitive engagement into courses and daily teaching. To do this well is harder for human teachers, whereas for robot teachers the job is easier [5]. When a teacher utilizes a robot in a classroom setting, the instructor's function is inextricably tied to the robot's role [27]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Applications based on artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more popular in teaching-learning. Advanced technologies have facilitated robots to carry out various human-like functions, which have navigated the interest of educators to discover the role of robots as potential teachers, instructors, or teaching assistants in education. Methods: An extensive search for articles for humanoid robots and education either in the title or keywords was done utilizing PubMed, Google Scholar, and Web of Science data sets. The tracking terms were artificial intelligence, education, medical education, anatomy, robots, humanoid robots, teaching, teaching assistant and tutor. Results: Usage of artificial intelligence in the form of humanoid robots is quite common. However, literature citing its usage in medical education is rare. Humanoid robots as a teacher or teaching assistants, are predominantly used in learning foreign languages. Primarily, a humanoid robot can discharge five functions as a potential teacher. Conclusion: Humanoid robots can effectively fulfil numerous educational goals in medicine since they can replicate human responses, work relentlessly regardless of students' repeated mistakes, be loaded with innovative teaching methodologies, and be upgraded with more current information. As a subject of medicine, Anatomy is highly visual and has; therefore, constant endeavours have been initiated to develop technology-enhanced learning over the decades. Although Artificial intelligence in humanoid robots has been successfully used in primary education and in learning a foreign language, its scope as an anatomy teacher or teaching assistant is a new and unique idea that needs exploration.
... It is aimed at "resuscitating" a student's learning of the analytical process of problem solving, thus enhancing their problemsolving skills as well as their understanding of core course concepts. Although it utilizes modern technologies to involve larger groups of students more rapidly than could be possible without technological support, the processes it adheres to have been effective for learning throughout the ages [13][14][15][16]. The CPR-L process, guided by Rubrics, delivers a recording of students' homework that enables the instructor to determine, with great precision, the student's grasp of concepts and ability to use those concepts to solve problems. ...
Article
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures labor market activity, predicts that STEM occupations are projected to grow 1.4 times faster than non-STEM occupations (10.5% STEM vs. 7.5% non-STEM) between 2020 and 2030 [1]. The STEM subset of Materials chemistry is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030 [2]. According to Materials Today Chemistry, a multi-disciplinary journal focused on all aspects of materials chemistry, this area of chemistry is one of the fastest developing areas of science, covering the application of chemistry-based techniques to the study of materials-including materials synthesis and behavior, and the relationships between material structure and properties at the atomic and molecular scale. A diverse and capable workforce is vital to maintaining the nation's standard of excellence in STEM, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF) [3]. Despite the acknowledged criticality of participation by a diverse workforce, Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce, according to a Pew Research Center study [4].
... The importance of an integrated planning team was supported by a study participant who regularly delivered community programming: Second, several participants commented on the level of repetition throughout the Planner and recommended making the document shorter and more concise. Although we carefully reviewed the Planner and eliminated unnecessary redundancies, some repetition was left in for pedagogical reasons [43]. Repetition helps readers remember and understand the information. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background As more people are surviving stroke, there is a growing need for services and programs that support the long-term needs of people living with the effects of stroke. Exercise has many benefits; however, most people with stroke do not have access to specialized exercise programs that meet their needs in their communities. To catalyze the implementation of these programs, our team developed the Stroke Recovery in Motion Implementation Planner, an evidence-informed implementation guide for teams planning a community-based exercise program for people with stroke. Objective This study aimed to conduct a user evaluation to elicit user perceptions of the usefulness and acceptability of the Planner to inform revisions. Methods This mixed methods study used a concurrent triangulation design. We used purposive sampling to enroll a diverse sample of end users (program managers and coordinators, rehabilitation health partners, and fitness professionals) from three main groups: those who are currently planning a program, those who intend to plan a program in the future, and those who had previously planned a program. Participants reviewed the Planner and completed a questionnaire and interviews to identify positive features, areas of improvement, value, and feasibility. We used descriptive statistics for quantitative data and content analysis for qualitative data. We triangulated the data sources to identify Planner modifications. Results A total of 39 people participated in this study. Overall, the feedback was positive, highlighting the value of the Planner’s comprehensiveness, tools and templates, and real-world examples. The identified areas for improvement included clarifying the need for specific steps, refining navigation, and creating more action-oriented content. Most participants reported an increase in knowledge and confidence after reading the Planner and reported that using the resource would improve their planning approach. Conclusions We used a rigorous and user-centered process to develop and evaluate the Planner. End users indicated that it is a valuable resource and identified specific changes for improvement. The Planner was subsequently updated and is now publicly available for community planning teams to use in the planning and delivery of evidence-informed, sustainable, community-based exercise programs for people with stroke.
... It was noted that studies that used more frequent educational sessions such as the one reported by Campino and Gursanscky providing 15 and 12 sessions within four months and one month respectively, had better outcomes compared to other studies [30,35]. Repeated encounters-as reported by Bruner-improves information retention [46]. It must be highlighted though that the mere repetition of the sessions might not be sufficient in improving practice. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Medication errors are avoidable events that can occur at any stage of the medication use process. They are widespread in healthcare systems and are linked to an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Several strategies have been studied to reduce their occurrence including different types of pharmacy-based interventions. One of the main pharmacist-led interventions is educational programs, which seem to have promising benefits. Objective To describe and compare various pharmacist-led educational interventions delivered to healthcare providers and to evaluate their impact qualitatively and quantitatively on medication error rates. Methods A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted through searching Cochrane Library, EBSCO, EMBASE, Medline and Google Scholar from inception to June 2020. Only interventional studies that reported medication error rate change after the intervention were included. Two independent authors worked through the data extraction and quality assessment using Crowe Critical Appraisal Tool (CCAT). Summary odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model for rates of medication errors. Research protocol is available in The International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) under the registration number CRD42019116465. Results Twelve studies involving 115058 participants were included. The two main recipients of the educational interventions were nurses and resident physicians. Educational programs involved lectures, posters, practical teaching sessions, audit and feedback method and flash cards of high-risk abbreviations. All studies included educational sessions as part of their program, either alone or in combination with other approaches, and most studies used errors encountered before implementing the intervention to inform the content of these sessions. Educational programs led by a pharmacist were associated with significant reductions in the overall rate of medication errors occurrence (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.65). Conclusion Pharmacist-led educational interventions directed to healthcare providers are effective at reducing medication error rates. This review supports the implementation of pharmacist-led educational intervention aimed at reducing medication errors.
Article
Full-text available
Background: Blended teaching combines traditional in-person components (simulation-based training and clinical-based placement) with online resources. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we modified our Women's Health Interprofessional Learning through Simulation (WHIPLS) program - to develop core obstetric and gynaecological skills - into a blended teaching program. There is limited literature reporting the observations of blended teaching on learning. Aims: To qualitatively evaluate the blended teaching program and explore how it contributes to learning. Materials and methods: This study was performed at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. A total of 98 medical students and 39 midwifery students participated. Data were collected by written survey and analysed by authors using a thematic analysis framework. Results: Students reported that in-person teaching remains a vital aspect of their curriculum, contributing an averaged 63.2% toward an individual's learning, compared with online. Five substantial themes demonstrate how students learnt and maximised education opportunities using a blended teaching program: 'low-pressure simulation environments', 'peer-assisted learning', 'haptic learning', 'scaffolded learning' and 'the impact of online discourse'. Discussion: In-person teaching remains a cornerstone of obstetric and gynaecological clinical skills education, of which interprofessional simulation and clinical-based placement are key components. Teaching via online discourse alone, is not sufficient to completely replace and provide comparable learning outcomes, but certainly plays an important role to prime students' learning and to maximise in-person opportunities and resources. Our study reveals key pedagogies of a blended (online and in-person) learning program, providing further evidence to support its ongoing utility as a feasible and warranted approach to learning.
Article
The article discusses Role play, Simple Question, Journal writing as techniques for teaching Business Law to Business Administration students. The educator’s perspective is believed to have a dramatic effect on the choice of teaching methods and techniques. From a management point of view, the understanding of law underlies a strategy to avoid lawsuits. The introduction of teaching approaches and techniques that respond to the graduates’ professional and human needs, such as role play, simple question and journal writing, is described as humanizing the teaching of Business Law, intended to arouse motivation and enhance learning outcomes for Business Administration students. The article describes a step-by-step methodology of implementing the above teaching techniques in the real-time education process. The methodology has been approbated at Mount Saint Mary’s University Los Angeles in the Business Law course during the Spring Semesters since 2017, totaling 15 courses. By completing the Business Profile and Business Journal and actively participating in the role play process, the non-law students were able to practice public speaking, develop their research skills and gain an understanding of the management and legal perspectives’ application in the business environment. The quantitative evaluation of results was performed via program learning outcomes testing, and the qualitative evaluation – through unstructured post-test interviews with the participating students. The preliminary results used have been the comments provided by the End of Course Evaluations and the Peregrine Assessment of Associate of Arts Business degree program. Both quantitative and qualitative measurement showed increase in the program learning outcomes and students’ motivation and engagement. The impact on the Bachelor of Arts program will not be available until 2021. The experiences and results in using role play, simple question and journal writing have been used to provide recommendations for enhancing learning experiences and outcomes in teaching Business Law to non-law students.
Article
This study aimed to determine family communication based on satisfaction with the uses of new media technology by millennial mothers and teachers in children studying from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. This research was conducted qualitatively through online interviews at the beginning of school from home during pandemic Covid-19. It was conducted from May until June 2020 with 30 millennial mothers born in the 1980s to 1999 in Indonesia. Millennial mothers experienced positive feelings (confidence, satisfaction, happiness) and negative feelings (burden, shock, frustration, stress, and depression). The child experienced positive feelings (happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment) and negative feelings (missing school, tiredness, stress, and sadness). The study results show that negative feelings are determined by negative thoughts caused by mothers’ communication when accompanying their children studying online. Therefore, mothers need to improve how they communicate with their children in school and at home to deal with negative emotions.
Article
Full-text available
Shadow education or private supplementary tutoring has become an international phenomenon as increasing numbers of students seek help beyond traditional schooling for academic achievement. e positive relationship between students' academic achievement and participation in shadow education has been previously reported. However, the manner in which shadow education practices can help students to gain and maintain higher academic achievement remains understudied. In response, this study explored the features of shadow education practices that may bene t the academic achievement of students, particularly those in South Korea but with relevance beyond the South Korean context. Using qualitative research methods, this study revealed that preview learning from/with private supplementary tutors, academic mastery learning of subject knowledge and skills, training skills for school exams, and solving students' individual learning di culties through intensive coaching are contributing factors to improving academic achievement.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.