The Four Levels of Learning

Everyone learns differently. It’s a fact of life and it’s unescapable. As you prepare for your next training session you’ll want to consider the different types of learners that may walk into your classroom.

I’m not talking about the visual and auditory learners. Today I’m talking about the different levels of knowledge each will already have before hew alks through the door.

Let’s start with unconscious incompetence. This is the learner that needs to hear every single thing about a concept from the ground up. He doesn’t know anything about what you’re going to cover and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know it.

The next type of learner displays conscious incompetence. He is willing to learn because he recognizes that he is missing pieces to the puzzle.

Individuals displaying conscious competence are confident in what they know. They are strong in the things they know and are very likely also familiar with the skills they need to enhance.

The most interesting type of learner is the one who is unconsciously competent. This type of learner already has a vast amount of knowledge but doesn’t believe in himself. You’ll spend more time proving to him that he already knows things than you will teaching him new concepts.

Understanding the different levels of learning will enable you to tailor your presentations or, at the very least, address questions as they arise based on the needs of the person who asks them.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 1 April, 2009

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