Learning curve: how does it happen and how long does it take?

8 minutes to read

Each student has unique characteristics that influence the form and time it takes to absorb the content taught in the classroom. Given this, it is essential that educators pay attention to the learning curve, which demonstrates the difficulties and evolution of student learning within a period.

From the analysis of this concept, it is possible to verify if the students’ productivity level is in accordance with what was planned, if they are learning fast or slowly, and what adjustments need to be made when some type of obstacle in the acquisition of knowledge is identified. In this post, you will better understand how the learning curve works and how to maximize the results of your classes. Check out!

What you will find in this article:

What is the learning curve?

Created in 1885 by the German Hermann Ebbinghaus, who worked in the field of learning psychology, the concept of the learning curve was applied for the first time by Theodore Wright, professor and aeronautical engineer, in order to analyze production costs. Over the years, the tool has also come to be used in educational institutions, helping to monitor the progress of student learning.

Simply put, the learning curve can be defined as a tool that measures the student’s performance as he performs activities related to the taught content. For her, the more the student evolves, the more he is able to develop activities and exercises with higher quality, given that he learns from mistakes and, thus, identifies ways to be more productive and eliminates the doubts that arose at the beginning of learning.

The use of this resource in the school environment is essential for teachers to have more control over the students’ learning process, having the opportunity to know how long it takes them to evolve in face of a content and what are the difficulties faced. With this, there is sufficient basis to outline strategies that facilitate this journey, in a way that is beneficial to both the student and the school.

How does the learning curve work?

It is important to note that we are not talking about a line that goes straight diagonally, but rather a curve that can stabilize at certain times. This is because it is normal for the start of learning a new topic, for example, to be slower, so that there is no significant improvement in student productivity.

However, when the content, its techniques and tools begin to be understood and mastered, the tasks performed by the teacher become easier, which positively impacts individual and collective productivity, and makes learning more intense.

At the end of the process, the tendency is for the curve to stabilize once again. Basically, it is as if the student reached his peak of knowledge and, after that milestone, his productivity remains linear. Every time new content is inserted in the class, a new curve begins, presenting a low level of proficiency and productivity.

In each situation, the curve can take on a different shape. If the teacher is teaching complex content, it can become longer, requiring more time for the student to have a high performance on the subject.

How to do the calculation?

The equation used to calculate the learning curve is: y = C1Xb. The ” y ” represents the average time that the student should take to complete a task, while the ” C1 ” is the time that he actually needed to deliver the activity. In turn, the ” b ” is the parameter responsible for tilting the curve, and determines the student’s percentage of learning, which is -1 to 0. For those who learn very fast, -1 is used, and for those who have not demonstrated learning, 0 is used.

By performing the calculation in a matrix, you find the student’s learning curve. If you want, the equation can be changed according to your goals, in order to take into account other variables.

How to develop activities with a focus on the learning curve?

The evolution in the student’s learning process depends on some factors, such as the adaptation to the teaching method and the tools implemented in the classroom, self-knowledge and the discovery of personalized strategies for their productivity, drop in the rate of doubts and, consequently, errors .

According to a report made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 34% of students in Brazil up to 15 years of age have already failed their grade at least once in their school day. Among other factors, this index is the result of difficulties and obstacles in learning. See how to create activities that stimulate the learning curve.

Prime for curve balance

First of all, it is highly recommended that you work to maintain the balance of the graph, making it as close as possible to the vertical axis, but without breaking the path taken by the student in the learning journey. To do so, ask the following questions when setting up content planning:

  • What prior knowledge does the student need to have to understand the new topic?
  • What is the level of complexity of the content to be worked on?
  • What are the minimum requirements for the student to pass the final assessment?

Thus, it is possible to build materials and activities that direct students towards a complete learning process, with resources that meet their needs and that guarantee the absorption of the taught contents.

Invest in the student’s familiarization with the discipline

In theory, students who are part of the same class should have the same level of knowledge about the subjects, but in practice this is not the case. After all, depending on their academic record, some students may have difficulties with a specific subject.

Therefore, before starting to teach new content, the ideal is to familiarize the class with the theme. Ask what students know about the subject and, based on that, bring references to help them remember it, preparing them for the next stage of the discipline.

Separate content by difficulty levels

To optimize the construction of the class learning curve, it is recommended to create graphics that indicate the level of difficulty of each content that will be developed. For a theme considered complex, the curve will be steep, therefore, it will be necessary to dedicate a greater number of classes and activities for the students to assimilate it.

This strategy helps the educator to understand what pace he needs to follow on the learning path. In this way, there is no risk of going too fast to the point that some students do not accompany you and do not learn correctly, or excessively slowly, causing the class to become bored and disperse.

Count on the help of a specialized platform

Undoubtedly, technology is an important ally in the evolution of student learning. In this sense, it is essential to have an online platform that offers a teaching journey appropriate to the level of knowledge of the class, with activities that reinforce the content learned in class.

Access to contextualized materials stimulates the student’s interest in the content, since he can relate the studied subject to the events of his daily life, which increases his engagement and contributes to a truly solid knowledge construction.

How does the curve tend to get steeper with online teaching?

The current generation of children and adolescents comes into contact with the internet and its tools at an earlier age. Taking this into account, it is essential that educational institutions adapt to the digital transformation, bringing learning models and resources that acclimate the student to the reality to which he is accustomed.

Online teaching, with the provision of tasks and content that can be accessed at any time and whenever the student deems necessary, is able to accentuate the learning curve, as it allows him to have more autonomy and control over his learning process . This is because he can go deeper into the subject, answer questions, do extra and simulated activities – factors that reinforce the assimilation and acquisition of knowledge.

Finally, it is necessary to keep in mind that the learning curve works as an indicator of student performance. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor it periodically, which must be done through its calculation. The result of the equation indicates whether the taught content is being learned or not.

When identifying a learning gap, the educator should review the way the subject has been presented to the class, seeking to readjust it to the needs of the students and ensure that everyone is able to overcome the levels of complexity and learn effectively.

Did you find this post interesting? Share it on your social networks and show your friends how to use the learning curve at school!

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