Learning-to-learn is the phenomenon of progressively greater improvement in the speed of learning as one's experience with the underlying principles and processes of learning increases.
When people try to learn a new behavior, the first attempts are often not very successful. Over time, however, they seem to get the idea of the behavior and the pace of learning increases. This phenomenon of greater improvement in speed of learning is called learning-to-learn (LTL). There are two general reasons for the existence of LTL. First, approaches to learning that are unsuccessful and confusing diminish with the development of a learner. When people have learned to do something, they have often developed schemas, or ways to approach those specific tasks. When a new behavior is required, old approaches that may be irrelevant must be discarded. Learning becomes easier when irrelevant or distracting behaviors disappear. Second, there may be positive transfer of previous knowledge about learning that can be usefully applied to the situation.
Learning-to-learn is most obvious in tasks that are somewhat complicated or varied. However, there is considerable disagreement about whether a person has ever completed learning to learn. If the goal of the process is acquisition of knowledge, then it may be completed in a given task. If the goal is learning how to think critically and become educated, the process for each person is a lifelong one. LTL occurs when the learners realizes how the various components of an overall behavior fit together. When learners have to organize and integrate a great deal of information, they then develop the required higher order principles that allow them to gain a general perspective on their behavior. As a result, subsequent learning often fits together because it evolves naturally with each person's development and awareness.
See also Learning ; Learning curve ; Learning theory ; Priming .
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