Human development is a long and complex process. Although there is a tendency for this process to take place over a period of time, we all have our own pace of physical and mental maturation, and the lessons we learn throughout our lives also take place at different rates.

This is taken into account in the field of education, although this does not prevent the fact that as a rule the different school courses take into account that it is necessary to possess certain knowledge, skills or abilities in order to overcome them. This is the concept of expected learning , which we will discuss throughout this article.

Expected learning: what is it and what does it involve?

Expected learning is understood as the set of knowledge that a subject in a learning situation (for example, at school) is expected to achieve within the level of education he or she is pursuing. It is considered that such learning must be able to be expressed in a concrete and operational way, and be able to be applied and generalized later on.

Such concreteness implies that the concept of expected learning is usually very concise, referring to a specific activity or knowledge that the subject should possess. These are indicators regarding the achievements that each student is expected to achieve in different facets during the training period.

Technically, these expected learnings serve to evaluate what is achieved through the evaluations that are carried out throughout the school year. It does not refer only to theoretical concepts but can also incorporate attitudes, perspectives, skills, actions and other competencies that can be demonstrated through assessment. Basically, if we look at the objectives of a teaching plan, we will be seeing, as a rule, the expected learning that we want to achieve.

The expected learning is not limited to early childhood education : in any educational or training process certain objectives are intended to be achieved. For example, also in university education, the acquisition of certain contents and competencies is expected in order to guarantee a good future professional performance, or even in non-official courses in order to assess whether the process has been followed and what was expected to be achieved has been acquired.

The need for good sequencing

The expected learning does not come about on a whim or by chance: the fundamental aspects to be acquired must be carefully evaluated, taking into account both the abilities of the subjects who are following the course and the learning they have already acquired and those they intend to achieve later. This is essential if we want these expected learnings to be meaningful (i.e. to be able to attribute meaning to them), although an expected learning could also be merely memoristic.

In this sense, they must be organized in a logical way and organize the contents in such a way that the demand and difficulty towards the student grows gradually . In this way we would go from the fundamental and basic to the complex.

In this regard, there are a large number of guides developed with respect to the knowledge that students in different courses should have, although each of them must be taken into account and adapted to the conditions of the students themselves, the country and culture, and the educational and socio-economic conditions of the group members.

Three key areas of expected learning

As we have said, the expected learning is used as an indicator of the achievements of the students and allows to assess their learning capacity and the fulfilment of the educational objectives . In other words, that they have learned what was intended to be learned. And, as we have seen, they are not limited only to theoretical knowledge: there are different elements that are valued that they can be expected to acquire.

For example, if we group them by educational fields we can find those that are part of language and communication, mathematical thinking, nature, art, social and physical development. But although each subject generally has its own objectives and expected learning, in general the fields or fundamental factors that are considered to be learned can be included in three large groups.

1. Knowing

Knowledge refers to theoretical knowledge acquired during the school year. It does not require practical application or even generalization, but rather the acquisition of knowledge itself. It is probably the most easily valued in terms of whether or not the content is learned, being the most representative of academic training .

2. Know-how

In this case, reference is made to the practical use of knowledge. It necessarily implies an understanding of the processes necessary to reach an end, although sometimes theoretical knowledge of what they imply is not fundamental. Applied mathematics, music, carpentry or mechanics are some of the knowledge that usually requires more learning associated with know-how.

3. Knowing how to be

This last factor brings together the set of attitudes, ways of acting and integrating beliefs and values into daily life, linking them positively and maintaining motivation and direction to a goal. It is something that can be worked on in emotional education , or that is intended to be achieved by carrying out various activities. Many of the skills required in university training or in professional areas such as psychology (for example, empathy, unconditional acceptance, etc.) would form part of this group of expected learning.

Advantages and precautions

The development of a learning system based on expected learning is of great use to both learners and educators. In the first place it allows to organize the training in an adaptive way , structuring what, how and when to introduce the different concepts to be learned and facilitating the generation of strategies.

However, it should be noted that these objectives are generalised to the average of the age group or school year, but individualised plans or adaptations should also be taken into account and developed for those people with functional diversity at the psychological, physical or sensory levels, whether by default or in excess.

In addition, it must be taken into account that learning must be operable, clear, and relevant or it would be complicated or absurd to incorporate it as expected.