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What is the name of this learning model?


I would very much like to know whose model of learning this is.

Consciously (3) | Unconsciously (4)
competent | competent
- - - - - - - - - - - - | - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Consciously (2) | Unconsciously (1)
incompetent | incompetent

Diane Hennessey

21 Responses

  1. Yes I know it!

    The model is the ‘Robinson’ ladder, I know no more than that.

    I use it and many others.

    I hope this helps.

    All the best.

    Andrew Gibbons

    [email protected]

  2. NLP Model
    Dear Diane,

    I’ve seen this model in Dr. Harry Alder’s book on NLP – although not quite in the same format, but in that of a grid.

    I don’t think it’s attributed in the book, but everytime I’ve seen it in use or discussed it or used it myself, it has just been refered to as the NLP model of learning.

    Please contact me if you want the full title of the book or the ISBN.



  3. D. L. Kirkpatrick – the originator of the model?
    Take a look at:

    The author cites a D. L. Kirkpatrick as the originator of the model, in Kirkpatrick’s publication, ‘A practical guide for supervisory training and development’ (1971) Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

    Hope this helps?

  4. Kogg’s Learning ladder
    I asked this same question on the UKHRD forum last year and I recieved 6 different citations. The only thing I know for certain is that NLP cannot lay claim to it as the model pre dates the work of Bandler & Grinder, Dilts et al.

    I know it as Kogg’s Learning Ladder, but I am affraid I have never been able to trace the originator.

  5. Self -organised learning
    Hi Diane,
    I’ve come across this model in a Rote V Experiential Learning context and seen it attributed to the work of Laurie Thomas @ Brunel University.
    It basically looks at the process of developing self-organisation in learning and the stages that the learner potentially goes through to achieve this.

    Hope that this helps?
    [email protected]
    Woodlea Consulting
    “Helping you to make the Links”

  6. Learning Models
    Thisis a well known model and is appropriate to most learning. For more detailed training on unconscious learning give us a call on 01273 298356.

  7. I agree with some others
    I used that model in a book I published recently looking at clinical supervision in healthcare. I referenced the model as
    O’Connor, J. Seymour, J. (1993) Introducing NLP – neuro linguistic programming (Revised Edition) Aquarian Press London. I also used a dynamic diagram for supervision based on this.
    Contact me if I can be of further help!
    John Driscoll (TLC Ltd.)

  8. Who’s Model?
    As regards O’Connor, J. Seymour, J. being the original authors of this model I think this is unlikely as I have in my possession material used at the Civil Service College in London on their Trainer Training Programme. This material dates back to 1983, and even then the model was well known and established.

    We also already have a publication of this model going as far back as 1971 in this discussion list:

    “The author cites a D. L. Kirkpatrick as the originator of the model, in Kirkpatrick’s publication, ‘A practical guide for supervisory training and development’ (1971) Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.”

    O’Connor & Seymour may well have adapted or adopted the model, but they did not create it and it is not attributable to NLP as this learning model pre dates the earliest work of Bandler and Grinder who originated NLP.

  9. Five Stage Competency Model
    I believe the model about which you enquire was first proposed by US brothers Dreyfus, SE and Dreyfus, HL (1980) in their work ‘A Five Stage Model of the mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition’ Unpublished report by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. University of California, Berkley USA.

    An excellent treatment of this model appears in Benner, Patricia (1984) ‘From Novice to Expert: Excellent and Power in Clinical Nursing’ Addison Wesley Publishing Co, California.

    I highly recommend Benner’s book for anyone studying how people learn.

  10. Nope – NOT NLP
    Whilst NLP books and training have certainly helped to poularise this model, it is extremely unlikely that it originates in NLP.

    In fact there’s really very little in NLP that’s wholly original since the heart of NLP is taking (modelling) things that have already been shown to work elsewhere.

  11. The Earliest Known Origin?
    Since my last posting on this topic I discovered this arabic saying first discovered on a 12th century manuscript, it reads:

    He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is ignorant – teach him.
    He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is a fool – shun him
    He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep – wake him.
    He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man – follow him.

  12. Huh?
    If I read Mr Platt’s version of this quote correctly:

    “He who knows not, and knows that he knows not” is BOTH a fool to be shunned AND ignorant and in want of teaching.


    “He who knows, and knows that he knows” is BOTH a wise man to be followed AND asleep and should be wakened.

    Interesting, but NOT, I suspect, an accurate quotation.

    I’ve not seen this quote before, so I’m just guessing that it should read:

    “He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool – shun him;
    He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is ignorant – teach him;
    He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep – wake him;
    He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man… follow him.”

  13. Addendum
    Yes I think Mr Tyler is correct – either way I think we can be certain it is not NLP in origin, unless of course some NLP practioner somewhere has taken Time Line Therapy and developed it beyond my wildest dreams – unlikely.

  14. Competence Model
    Hi I’ve used this model many times to illustrate the different stages of learning and therefore potential for both the supervisee and supervisor in a thing called clinical supervision in the NHS. It is a non managerial form of supportive supervision to promote the idea of qualified practitioner as lifelong learner. You may be interested to know that like you I also wanted the original author as I used it in a book I recently wrote on giving and receiving supervision. Sadly I had to admit to seeing it first in an NLP book rather than ever finding the originator and therefore remains a secondary rather than primary reference. My source was;
    O’Connor, J. Seymour, J. (1993)Introducing NLP – neuro linguistic programming (revised edition)Aquarian Press, London.

    Hope this is helpful on your quest!

    John Driscoll (Suffolk)

  15. The Dreyfus Model
    See my earlier comments. This model is definitely The Dreyfus Model by Dreyfus, S and Dreyfus, H (brothers, one of whom is a mathematician and system analyst, the other of which is a philosopher.

  16. Sorry – NOT Dreyfus
    Sorry, Robin, the competence model undoubtedly bears a resemblance to the Dreyfus model – but they certainly aren’t the same thing BECAUSE while the incompetent/competent model has only four levels –

    “The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition, which was first developed by Dreyfus and Dreyfus in 1980, is one way of looking at theory application. The model can be applied to the learning of any new skill; it suggests that those who master specific skills must pass through FIVE levels of proficiency in the process: ‘novice’, ‘advanced beginner’, ‘competent’, ‘proficient’, and ‘expert’.”

    A ‘level too far’, I fear, as the title of the report you mentioned in your previous posting indicated.

  17. Related Web Sites
    A detailed discussion of this saying and its origins.
    This site gives the credit for this model to W.C. Howell, which is clearly wrong.
    Here the model is extended to Unconscious Supercompetence
    An interesting review of the model from NLP.
    This web sites makes a connection to a Reynolds model which is interesting.

  18. I know this model as ***’s Ladder of Competence
    I’m new to training so I don’t know the full background to it, other than knowing that at the bottom of the ladder you don’t know what you don’t know and at the top you don’t think about what you know which can lead to mistakes.

  19. Cox … or Dreyfus?

    Do you by any chance remember where you got that title?

    The reason I ask is because there isn’t a single mention on the web (using Google) of “Cox’s” Ladder of Competence, but quite a few references to Hubert Dreyfus’ Ladder of Competence, which is described by one writer thus:

    “[Dreyfus] identified several levels of pre-expert performance, including the beginner, the advanced beginner, and the competent person. He observed that beginners and advanced beginners spend most of their time choosing and applying rules, while experts respond to situations holistically without consciously following rules.”

  20. ***….or Dreyfus
    Sorry Paul I don’t have any further information on it. As I said I am new to training and haven’t really looked into where the model came from. The name means nothing to me but I can understand where it’s coming from.

  21. Confused!
    We have been trying to get to the bottom of this one too. I have seen it credited to either Maslow, NLP, Taekwondo, Kirkpatrick and/or William Howell!!
    Does anyone have the definitive answer?


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