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Generative Learning

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Generative Learning is the idea that students make meaning by connecting knowledge to present stimuli or concepts. In principle, it is the step in any thinking process whereby a person must recall something from memory.


As a strategy, consider how to assign generative learning tasks. Instead of assigning tasks that allow students to make use of resources in front of them to find ideas, require students to use knowledge of those materials in application to a task or discussion.

To further expand, Generational Learning Theory incorporates four components:

  • Recall–accessing information from memory
  • Integration–adding new details to existing knowledge
  • Organization–connecting existing knowledge to new or different concepts
  • Elaboration–expressing connections between new concepts and prior knowledge in creative ways

Examples of generative learning tasks might include:

  • Reading an article related to a class topic, and having students discuss the connections. The article may be before them for reference, but class notes and materials should be stowed.
  • Recording videos where students make use of rhetorical concepts or recall ideas/make connections
  • Self-testing or self-questioning about a topic
  • Teaching a topic to others


Read a comprehensive examination of the concept with examples and additional resources from Structural Learning here.

Watch a concise explanation with examples from Mind the Gap here:

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