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An Example of Frustrated Learning

Probably the most important learning skill you have is your ability to read, read, read. Effective reading is the most critical element for becoming a successful adult learner (or for learning at any age).

As adults, we learned how to read many years ago. This chapter obviously will not teach you how to read, but rather how to improve your reading comprehension and get the most from what you do read.

Let's look at an example:

Leslie is a married woman who had been away from the work force for approximately 20 years while taking care of her home and raising three children. About two years ago, she began working for an insurance company as an assistant claims processor. Initially, she was provided with a two-day training program on how to operate the computer at her desk, as well as some on-the-job training relative to claims processing. Last month, she was promoted to lead claims processor. This promotion requires her to participate in a two-week training program at the company's main office in another state.

To this end, Leslie's boss has given her two very thick manuals -- one on computer programs and the other on more advanced claims processing. Each manual consists of approximately 200 pages, around which the two-week training program is built. Her boss has instructed her to "browse" through the materials before she leaves for the main office next week. Leslie feels completely overwhelmed by this pre-training activity.

She has started to read the material on several occasions, only to feel very frustrated, as she is not sure what it is she's reading. She has attempted to take some notes from her reading, but this too leaves her frustrated. She concludes that being out of the learning cycle for nearly 20 years has taken its toll. She is concerned about failure and not doing well in this upcoming training situation.

Obviously, Leslie can read. However, it's one thing to read a novel for pleasure and relaxation. It's another thing to have to read and study for purposes of learning some new technology and job-related skills.

The first thing Leslie should do is take a deep breath and relax. She should recall some positive learning experiences from her past, which she may call upon for some type of reinforcement. She needs to replace her frustration and apprehension with an enthusiastic and positive attitude toward this learning experience.

Then she may need to oil the gears of her reading skill machinery by doing some or all of the following activities.