Deduction & Induction – How do we actually learn best?


Hello there,

I started thinking (oh no…) why do we always want to understand “the big picture” first and then formulate our thinking based on readymade pattern someone else has come up with?  It has to do with our habits and thinking dating back to our school years. Since kids we have learned there is always some ready answer, theory or theorem that explains all. Wise people have told us what things look like and how the world functions.

We learn to trust there is always some higher authority saying what is right and how to understand and intepret the world. Formal school system and all the major educational institutions are built on assumption that we learn best when we are told how things are. There are books, lectures, seminars that utilise the same learning pattern. We are being told.

What if we would have been forced to use our brains a bit more? 

In logical thinking these models are called methods of reasoning typically deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Here is some background info for the layman – Click the link and search for Induction and Deduction /

Deduction & Induction: 

Typically we want someone to tell us what is the theory or the model to intepret the phenomena we are trying to understand. From theory or “big picture” we drill down to further details, we try to find some evidence to confirm our newly learned facts and once found we are satisfied that model works. Using this deductive way is how typical learning solutions are built. And it works fine in many occasions however it utilises only some parts of our brain.  

In inductive learning process (inductive reasoning) we actually use more experience based learning. We observe, we follow, we try, we test and we gather different kind of evidences, opinions, facts and results to start formulating an opinion. We start to see some patterns and repeating behaviors, same test results coming more often. We start to develop a model to explain the phenomena and we start to work on theory that would explain what we experienced.

During those learning processes our brains work quite differently and ideal learning paths or learning experiences are built to utilise both deductive and inductive learning.

After some careful thinking and maybe even trying it out you start to see where these models work best.

We learn in different ways. There are people who can’t be told how things are. They need to be able to figure it out themselves. In some cases there are absolute truths or commonly agreed models we just have to accept.

But for the next time you start designing a learning process, learning experience or learning path… Think… Which one would be the better way to ensure the best and most relevant learning results…

There is no absolute truth here. Why don’t you try to model it for yourself? 

About sleppane

Experienced human resource development professional who has a passion for innovation and development in Learning & Development arena. Passionate about Learning 2.0 - integrating Web 2.0 and more with pedagogical aspects. Keen on developing workplaces, practices and processes if they enable more satisfied workforce. Service Manager @ Sovelto for Learning 2.0 concept
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