Conscious Competence

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Conscious competence learning model

stages of learning - unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence

Here is the 'conscious competence' learning model or matrix. No-one seems to know for sure who originated it. The simple conscious competence model explains the process and stages of learning a new skill (or behaviour, ability, technique, etc.) It most commonly known as the 'conscious competence learning model', sometimes 'conscious competence ladder' or 'conscious competence matrix', although other descriptions are used, and occasionally a fifth stage or level is added in more recent adapted versions. The conscious competence model is a useful reminder of the need to learn, and train others, in stages. The learner or trainee always begins at stage 1 - 'unconscious incompetence', and ends at stage 4 - 'unconscious competence', having passed through stage 2 - 'conscious incompetence' and - 3 'conscious competence'. Teachers and trainers commonly assume trainees to be at stage 2, and focus effort towards achieving stage 3, when often trainees are still at stage 1. The trainer assumes the trainee is aware of the skill existence, nature, relevance, deficiency, and benefit offered from the acquisition of the new skill. Whereas trainees at stage 1 - unconscious incompetence - have none of these things in place, and will not be able to address achieving conscious competence until they've become consciously and fully aware of their own incompetence. This is a fundamental reason for the failure of a lot of training and teaching. If the awareness of skill and deficiency is low or non-existent - ie., the learner is at the unconscious incompetence stage - the trainee or learner will simply not see the need for learning. It's essential to establish awareness of a weakness or training need (conscious incompetence) prior to attempting to impart or arrange training or skills necessary to move trainees from stage 2 to 3. People only respond to training when they are aware of their own need for it, and the personal benefit they will derive from achieving it.

Conscious competence learning matrix

The progression is from quadrant 1 through 2 and 3 to 4. It is not possible to jump stages. For some skills, especially advanced ones, people can regress to previous stages, particularly from 4 to 3, or from 3 to 2, if they fail to practise and exercise their new skills. A person regressing from 4, back through 3, to 2, will need to develop again through 3 to achieve stage 4 - unconscious competence again. For certain skills in certain roles stage 3 conscious competence is perfectly adequate. Progression from stage to stage is often accompanied by a feeling of awakening - 'the penny drops' - things 'click' into place for the learner - the person feels like they've made a big step forward, which of course they have. Certain brain (personality) types favour certain skills (see for example the Benziger theory). We each possess natural strengths and preferences. We each therefore find progression to stage 3, and particularly to stage 4, easier in some skills rather than in others. Some people will resist progression even to stage 2, because they refuse to acknowledge or accept the relevance and benefit of a particular skill or ability. In these cases it's obviously not too clever to attempt to progress the person to stage 3. Instead find the person a more suitable role, or allow an adapted approach to the current role if appropriate and viable. People develop competence only after they recognise the relevance of their own incompetence in the skill concerned. |  |competence |incompetence | |conscious |3 - conscious competence |2 - conscious incompetence | | |the person achieves 'conscious competence' in a...
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