Context Applied Learning

Context Applied Learning emphasizes two types of contexts for presenting course material and modeling expert thinking skills: content context and situational context.

Content context

Content context provides that new material be presented in the context of previously learned material. This approach enables learners to progressively extend their existing mental schema without having to manage a myriad of fragmented and disconnected islands of thought. This approach is similar to assembling a puzzle in which new pieces are added to previously completed sections. The puzzle metaphor has at least one glaring deficiency when it comes to schema building. Puzzles usually come with a picture of the final product on the box, whereas learners have no such luxury.

Situational context

Situational context provides that new content is presented, modeled, and practiced in the context of an authentic real-world scenario that is likely to be encountered after training. This goes a long way in satisfying a learner’s BDSW Factor. (Big Deal So What?) Learner’s should never be asking themselves, “Why am I learning this?” because the situational context of the presented material already answered the question.

Almost any learning activity can be framed to some degree in the context of a real-world scenario, which as indicated previously automatically answers the question of relevance. Of course, it should not be an absolute requirement that all content be applied in a context, but if it is not, it should at least be scrutinized for its continued relevance given the ever increasing amount of information that learners must understand, and the rapidly changing competencies that characterize most workplace settings.

Applied learning activities can satisfy context considerations by incrementally introducing new material with material that has already been learned, and by doing so using authentic real-world scenarios.