Using 4MAT to Integrate “What Learners Know” and “What Learners Think”

What we think and what we know are two different things. Thinking is what is happening in our minds – the mind chatter we listen to. Our consciousness, on the other hand, holds all that we are aware of including that which we cannot put into words (yet).  Making the distinction between thinking and knowing is important when designing and delivering training experiences.

Learners know much more than they can quickly put into words. This is especially true when first exploring new content.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle shares, “All true artists whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight.”  To ensure learning transfer, learners must be equipped with the ability to adapt the content – to get creative.  Tapping into the full potential of our creativity requires that we make time for reflection.

The problem with many learning experiences is that they are emphasize thinking over knowing. The 4MAT model intentionally balances this focus. Here are two (of the many) ways that the 4MAT model equips learners for success:

  1. Encouraging Learner Reflection: The 4MAT instructional design model intentionally builds in reflection points for the learner to explore and synthesize what they already know with the new information being given to them.
  2. Mental Imagery: The 4MAT model integrates right-brain instructional strategies which enable learners to express what they know (consciousness) but may not be able to fully express in words (thinking).

In the rush to shorten a training design, we have to be careful to honor and maintain the balance between thinking and consciousness.

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