Innovation in Learning Study Group

West Coast: Defining and Describing Learning

By: Elaine Leibly

Here are some words that have been used to define and describe learning while we’ve been here in San Diego:

Purpose – noun – the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Learning should have purpose, and students should know that purpose.

Relevant – adjective – closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered.

Learning should be relevant and meaningful to the student.  The projects at their schools are designed with student input around student interests.


Retain – verb – continue to have (something), to keep possession of, to keep in one’s memory.

For true learning to occur, the knowledge must be retained.  That which is meaningless and irrelevant will be discarded; learning that has purpose and is relevant will be retained.

Passion – noun – strong and barely controllable emotion, an intense desire or enthusiasm for something, a thing arousing enthusiasm.

Teaching and learning should include the passions of not only students and teachers.  Passion can be about anything.


Superpower – noun – the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

We teach.  What’s your superpower?