Do You Know The 4 Stages Of Learning?

The idea that different students may learn differently (otherwise known as ‘learning styles) is a pretty hot-button issue. In fact, I don’t think any other topic has garnered us such a large amount of hate-mail, even though we’ve tried to approach the topic from both sides of the argument.

That said, regardless of how you feel about whether different learning styles exist or not, there are many things that teachers have tried out over the years to see what works best for them and for their students.

Call it trial and error, or experiential research, perhaps. The handy infographic below talks about the stages of learning, and how to approach teaching in a way to best help students learn. Specifically geared towards reading assignments, the ideas in the graphic can be extrapolated and used for almost any subject or type of project/learning material! Keep reading to learn more!

Teach Towards Learning

Getting students in the best frame of mind to learn efficiently can be achieved with a few strategic steps. For a reading assigment:

Before Reading: 

  1. Offer a preview
  2. Let them ask questions/ask them questions
  3. Have them make predictions

During Reading:

  1. Clarify for them as necessary
  2. Let them ask questions/ask them questions
  3. Work on vocabulary

After Reading:

  1. Encourage (require!) reflection
  2. Let them ask questions/ask them questions
  3. Have them summarize

Stages of Learning

  1. Declarative
  2. Procedural
  3. Conditional
  4. Metacognitive

Students Will Be Able To:

  1. Name learning strategies
  2. Know how to use learning strategies
  3. Know when to use learning strategies
  4. Know why they are using learning strategies



  1. Richard Catterall

    May 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

    In my limited experience teaching (only 32 years so far) I have found 5 stages of learning that can be illustrated by the stages of learning to ride a bicycle: 1. I know I cannot. 2. I know I can (even though I have not tried yet, I see others succeed and they are humans just like me). 3. I try, and fail (I fall off and graze elbows and knees). 4. I succeed (I get balance, that thing that cannot be taught, only learnt). 5. I overlearn (I repeat the success until it becomes automatic). Many people struggle to move from one stage to the next for reasons etched in their pasts by family, friends and experience, and many think that each stage before the fifth is the final one, for them. In teaching Mathematics I see each of these stages in my students and work to bring each student to the next stage and to the fifth stage.

    • Connie

      May 20, 2014 at 11:30 am

      well said

    • Vickie

      July 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      This analogy is very helpful! With your permission, I will use it with my struggling students who are learning how to study. Many thanks!

  2. Tricia

    May 19, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Can you share a lesson plan that illustrates how all of these come together? In particular, the question-response in the “clarify” segment can take different forms, so what ways do you think this would work best? Thank you.