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

Didem Ekici, Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program Coordinator


Learning is a complex process. Even though knowledge and learning is always linked together, I
believe that knowledge or the acquisition of knowledge do not always result in learning. In
today’s world, where the access of knowledge is so easy and quick, the complex phenomena of
learning is still being explored. If the acquisition of knowledge would be the learning, then
Google would be the best teacher ever. Or, is it already? 
It is not easy to define what learning is since the definition of learning might vary based on the
theories you interpret it. For example, according to the behaviorists, learning occurs only when
there is a change in your behavior and, therefore, it should be observable. Contrarily, for the
cognitivists approach, learning is an internal process that occurs in the brain and it supports the
idea that learning happens when people internalize the new knowledge. Lastly, according to
humanistic approach, learning happens both cognitively and affectively as a whole process.
No matter which theory of learning you believe, it is important to think about not
only how learning happens but also when learning happens. I believe that most of the learning
process occurs through interacting with other people. Even though most people underestimate
the value of interaction in learning, I think that while talking and listening, people process the
new knowledge, reflect on it and internalize it. That is why peer learning and collaborative
activities have become so popular in education field. Even in a regular day, when I talk to
people, I learn more about myself because this interaction enables me to raise some kind of
self-awareness. Likewise, when I listen to others, I learn from other people’s ideas and
experiences that I always appreciate. Especially, I believe that the more you interact with
people from diverse backgrounds the more you broaden your mindset and look at the things
from a different perspective. As I interact with more people from diverse backgrounds, it really
changes my perception and make me look at the things from a different perspective. Still,
looking at things from a point of view other than ours might be uncomfortable for some of us.
That is why it might take some time to get used to.
Therefore, I believe that the source of knowledge does not always have to be books, lectures or
academic resources. I think people are also a great source to learn from and make meaning of
knowledge. The only thing we need to do is to go beyond hearing and start listening.

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