The Competence Cycle Model of Learning


One useful model for learning is the Competence Cycle, a four-stage model that can help you identify your competences:

1) Unconscious Incompetence

You don’t know that you don’t know about something.

A good example would be a child who has never seen a bicycle, or has no idea that any language exists other than their own.

2) Conscious Incompetence

You have become aware that you lack a particular skill.

An example might be the child who has seen other children riding bicycles, or heard someone speaking another language, and therefore wishes to learn.

3) Conscious Competence

You have learned how to do something, but you still need to think about it in order to do it.

An example would be the child who can ride a bicycle but falls off if they stop watching where they are going.

4) Unconscious Competence

You have learned how to something so well that it has become hard-wired into your brain.

You no longer have to think about how you do it, but just do it. In fact, if you think about it too hard, you may not be able to do it.

Coaches need to identify the stage at which an individual is at to use the right sort of language to help them move to the next stage. After all, it’s difficult to try to improve a skill if you don’t know that you lack it.

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