The uncommitted learner produces excuses

It’s been a while since I’ve been active on my blog because I’ve been working on some fundamental projects I plan to share with my professional learning community soon. One of them is ways to work with uncommitted learners.

To be committed to something means that one has pledged himself/herself to a certain course or task. Hence, I define a committed learner as one who is willing to give himself/herself to the learning process fully.  However, an uncommitted learner is reluctant to give himself/herself fully to the learning process due to their own perceptions of lack or limitation in academic acumen and fear.

I’ve been grappling with ways of working with uncommitted learners over the last two years. In my experience, I’m noticing more and more learners are generating excuses for why they are not able to partake in the learning process, yet they’ve registered and/or signed up for the course or workshop. Fully committed learners give up valuable experiences with family and friends and forego learning shortcuts in order to achieve their learning goals. Whereas uncommitted learners, make excuses that allow them to carry on with their routines and behaviors while limiting their growth.

For a while, uncommitted learners frustrated me. So I started researching what underlies “un”- commitment. I realized that uncommitted learners make excuses because of their perceived lack, limitation, and want for academic acumen.

Like uncommitted customers, uncommitted learners can be placed into four categories:

  • available
  • ambivalent
  • weakly unavailable
  • strongly unavailable

Uncommitted available learners can be converted with optimal instructional design and learner engagement. Uncommitted ambivalent learners have mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about the course or workshop, so they too will need optimal instructional design and plenty of opportunities for learner engagement along with supplementary resources that will help them gain more clarity in order for them to commit.

Uncommitted weakly available learners lack trust and are reluctant to be vulnerable during the learning process.  Nonetheless, these learners can be converted with ample support and encouragement from the course facilitator and their co-learners. Whereas, uncommitted strongly unavailable learners are teetering on the line of withdrawal from the learning experience because they simply do not want to be a part of the learning process. Perhaps, they are in the course or workshop due to external compulsory factors. So, it will take divine forces to convert them.

In sum, I learned that I can’t convert them all, and that’s okay. I also learned to listen closely to their excuses in order to better craft my conversion approach. Are their excuses telling me that they are available, ambivalent, weakly unavailable, or strongly unavailable? Whichever one, I’m fully committed to being committed to their learning journey.


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