We Know More than We Think

We all have knowledge we don’t know we have. This is because our brain has this one superior and efficient function.

Dr. Arthur Reber, cognitive psychologist and retired professor, explains that we have an implicit learning function that is an unconscious process. For example, learning a language in the environment in which it is spoken is an implicit process. Grammar and pronunciation patterns and rules are learned unconsciously.

Research suggests that our knowledge base is made of at least 70% tacit (or unconscious) knowledge. This knowledge can be acquired through implicit learning and is difficult to verbalize. For instance, you know how to ride a bike, but can you describe how you balance on a bike so that you don’t fall off? This is knowledge you already have but difficult to explain.

In our everyday work, we acquire tacit knowledge. Knowledge we don’t know we have. So how can this idea be translated to practice?

Here is a tip. When asking for solutions from your learners, have them generate 10 ideas. You will find that they can generate 3-4 pretty easily. But the remaining 6-7 will be difficult. This is because you are challenging them to dig deeper in order to access their tacit knowledge. They will discover they know more than they think. What a great way to learn, too.

About Parker Grant, PhD

Parker Grant is the founder of Instructional Design Industry, an online community for learning designers, instructional designers, and many other learning professionals (new and experienced). Parker holds a PhD in Adult Learning and a MS in Educational Technology. His consulting firm, Learning Connects, continues to offer learning design and development services.

What are your thoughts?