Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

On Teaching and Learning by Jane Vella – A Proactive Report

The nature of a proactive report is that you go into the book with a few questions that you hope to answer.  It starts with an overview of the book, then a set of questions and finishes with a summary and synthesis.  So here are my thoughts On Teaching and Learning by Jane Vella.

Vella in her book On Teaching and Learning not only makes the case that dialogue education is a needed approach to enhance adult learning in a rapidly changing landscape, but she helps the reader to get a hold of the skills necessary to implement this approach to teaching and learning.  First, she helps us design a learning experience by teaching us various ways to discover learning needs through a resource assessment (LNRA) and in light of the LRNA she takes us through the seven steps of design for learning – Who?, Why?, When?,  Where? What?, What for? and How ?  Following this, she helps us understand the four elements of learning tasks as well as how to implement the principles and practices of dialogue education.  Finally she gives us practical ways to discern if learning has actually taken place.

Proactive Questions

1. How does performing a Learning Needs and Resource Assessment (LNRA) and using the seven steps of design facilitate greater adult learning?

The purpose of performing an LNRA is to discover some important information from the learner – what they already know about the topic, what they hope to learn and what they need to know. Performing intermittent LNRA’s continually through the process while using the seven design steps enhance greater learning in the adult learner.  The seven steps are about answering seven questions:  Who are the participants and leaders? Why should they learn or what situation is calling for this learning time? When should this take place?  Where should the learning take place?  What should be the content?  What are the achievement-based objectives (ABO)?  How will this learning take place, in other words what learning tasks and materials will they have? When one thinks through these seven questions and the nature of an LNRA is it easy to see how dialogue education focuses on the learner actually learning.

2.  Describe the four elements of a learning task.

  • Inductive work – anchors the core content of what needs to be learned to the learners known environment.
  • Input – the new content that is added to the learner.
  • Implementation – this is when the learner takes this new content and applies it immediately in the context of the learning event.
  • Integration – when the learning takes what they learned in the “safe” environment and applies it into the real world.

3.  What are the three ways to evaluate if people know what you hoped they might know?

  • Learning – what takes place as a result of intentional teaching within the training time.
  • Transfer – the learner putting into practice what they learned at the training time in the context of their every day life.
  • Impact – the ways that this transfer of knowledge changes organizations and systems.

Summary and Synthesis
Vella takes us through a holistic approach to learning (dialogue education) that focuses on the learner actually learning.  By conducting LNRA’s, following the seven design steps as well as the four elements of a learning a task, the teacher is able to maximize the learning potential for the adult learner.  I appreciate the responsibility that Vella puts on the teacher to creatively develop a learning environment in which the learners take charge of their own learning.  My approach to training has been forever changed through my encounter with this book.  I’m excited for the opportunity to put dialogue education into practice, as well as having some clear ways to discern the impact the training will have in the world of the learner.

5 Responses to On Teaching and Learning by Jane Vella – A Proactive Report

  1. Great review and for the resource.

  2. jrwoodward says:

    Glad to know that it was helpful!

  3. I thought I detected a Fuller connection. Thank you for the review… I know from experience that Dialogue Education has been an important quality standard for many in your line of work and ministry.

    Peter Noteboom
    Global Learning Partners

  4. jrwoodward says:


    Thanks for dropping by. So how did you detect a Fuller connection? I’m glad you enjoyed the review and you are right about the importance of dialogue education on my line of work. Peace.


  5. Great synopsis. You might also be interested in my recent blog post on LNRA’s (a.k.a. “Eleanor Ray”). Please see http://www.learningcycle.ca/blog/2010/2/10/12-reasons-why-eleanor-ray-is-a-facilitators-best-friend.html

    Pax, Dwayne

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