What is Sequence Learning?

Debra Durkee
Debra Durkee

Sequence learning is one of the most predominant ways of teaching and in turn learning something. It occurs when a subject, action, or topic is presented in a way that is logical for the human mind to understand, and therefore easy to grasp. There are several different types of sequence learning, and within all of them the steps and facts are presented in a logical, beginning to end order that both the human and animal mind is programmed to understand.

There are seven different types of sequence learning. Perhaps the most common is the procedure of teaching something in chronological order. This is often found when people are telling a story; events are typically relayed in the order in which they occur, making it easier for people to understand the logical progression of the story.

Beginning to explain a difficult subject with terms that are already familiar is called comparative sequence. This allows individuals to build upon knowledge that they already have. For example, an individual studying to be a mechanic may first start by learning the systems on his or her own car before going on to study the same types of systems on different makes and models.

Another common form of sequence learning is job performance order. This is the logical way in which to teach an individual how to perform a task. Chefs learning a new recipe will learn it in job performance order, and be instructed as to what steps must be carried out in what order so everything comes together properly at the end.

Individual elements of a concept are taught before patterns are put together as a whole. A scientist will learn what all the elements of the periodic table are before he or she learns how they combine to make new structures. Similarly, a simple to complex system of sequence learning will teach basic elements of a concept before more complicated ones. For those undergoing massage therapy instruction, individuals are taught to work on larger, more easily accessible muscles of the body before they are instructed about more delicate processes.

Individuals can also be taught sequence learning based on the relationship between learning objectives. This can be effective in the teaching of a computer technician who must first learn to recognize and diagnose a problem. After this has been learned, he or she will be instructed as to how to fix it; without being able to recognize it first, knowing how to remedy the problem is rendered pointless and confusing.

Critical sequence instruction occurs when students are taught a concept by being instructed about the most important elements first, which are then followed by lesser elements of the concept. A veterinarian may first be taught to recognize symptoms that will be commonly seen in the animals that come into a practice. After these have been mastered, the vet will then learn about more obscure conditions that are not seen as frequently.

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