How do you define Learning and what enables you to make meaning of new knowledge?

Haley Rietman, Learning Center Program Assistant

Haley grew up in San Diego, CA. She also attended college in Southern California at Chapman University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time at Chapman, she worked in their events department and as a tutor, which allowed her to realize the passion she has for working in higher education.  Haley hopes that through her work in the Learning Center, she will be able to encourage students to achieve their academic goals which will in turn benefit their overall success.  Haley’s passions include traveling, exercising and reading and when she has spare time she likes to explore San Francisco.

As shown through the lens of previous writers on this topic, there are many ways one can define and interpret learning. In its simplest form, learning is the acquisition of new knowledge. Knowledge and learning go hand in hand. What is one without the other? Do we learn new knowledge, or does our knowledge allow us to learn? I believe it’s both.


The main concept that allows me to make meaning of new knowledge is keeping the mindset that there is always something more to learn. We should never allow ourselves to believe that we have learned everything there is to know. By staying in the mindset that I can always learn something new, I am constantly seeking out new information, or discovering how to use the knowledge I already have in a different way – in other words, I am learning. If one believes that they already know everything there is to know, they have closed off their minds to learning something new. Yes, many times learning is unconscious, however, if we strive to be conscious of our learning and seek out learning opportunities, we will be more successful in gaining new knowledge.


I encourage everyone to strive to be constantly learning. Deeper learning is not passive- take the initiative to learn by seeking out wisdom from others, dive into resources such as books, training courses, podcasts, the internet, etc. Set goals for oneself and keep track of the new knowledge you are learning- it might come as a surprise to you as to how much new knowledge you might gain when you are actually seeking it. Lastly, be sure to enjoy the process of learning. Too many times, the joy of learning is overtaken by the stress of preparing for a test or writing a paper but if we can appreciate the process of learning, it becomes a sort of classical conditioning where we are encouraged to keep learning.


Students at the University of San Francisco: I encourage you to utilize the services that the Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers have to offer. These services are not only offered to students who may be struggling in their courses but also to students who want to learn more and increase their academic skills.  The Learning Center strives to assist students who desire higher academic achievement and want to make new meanings of their own knowledge.


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