‘Learning By Doing’ Revisited

My Twitter friends Robyn McMaster (@RobynMcMaster) and Ellen Weber (@EllenFWeber) are teaching an MBA course at the Bittner School of Business in Rochester, NY, Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind.

Over the weekend, Robyn tweeted me with the following message: “Kathy, @ellenfweber and I planning course activities. If no lecture, you have learners doing rather than taking notes.” Robyn’s tweet was in response to my comments on Ellen and Robyn’s previous tweets saying, “Students question, apply & wonder… rather than listen to lectures.” I believe their course is a perfect example of “learning by doing”!

I’m a huge fan of “learning by doing,” and here’s information on the topic from one of my previous blog posts — info that’s definitely worth repeating now…

How do you learn best? Over the years, I’ve discovered that taking action helps me to learn. I call this “learning by doing.” After teaching for seven years now, I’ve seen that my students seem to enjoy “learning by doing,” too. Research backs up this approach. Here’s the Cone of Learning from Edgar Dale:

Since we “tend to remember 90% of what we SAY and DO,” according to the Cone of Learning, we take this multi-sensory approach to teaching and learning in my own classroom (which is actually a computer lab equipped with brand-new Macs) at Rider University, and we’re seeing great results!

Do you learn by doing?… Please tell us about what you’re doing and how you learn best. Do you agree with the ideas presented in the Cone of Learning above? And please join me in sending good luck and best wishes to Robyn and Ellen as they design and present their new course! (I wish I lived closer to Rochester so that I could take the course, too!) ;-) Until next time, take care — and thanks for reading!

Kathy Magrino


  1. Great post and inspired reminder to act today – as a way to literally change your brain into more of who you want to be, Kathy! Thanks for your excitement about our novel MBA leadership course that will do and model a new kind of leadership.

    One small change — It’s at the Bittner School of Business – which is in a very fine University in Rochester, NY – called St. John Fisher.

    • Kathy Magrino says

      Thanks, Ellen! (And I’ll make the correction about the location to the blog post now…) Have a great day!

  2. Kathy, had not realized you wrote a blog on our new offering at St. John Fischer College. We had worked on the kinds of activities that would stir our students to think in different ways. Glad you also design your classes so that students learn by doing.

    So look forward to this. Posted all materials for the first week, including our new book chapters. Can’t wait to meet students and to begin our journey together.

    • Kathy Magrino says

      Hi, Robyn! Thanks for your comment here. Your new course sounds like it’s going to be GREAT! I hope you’ll keep us posted and let us know how it’s going… My spring semester classes at Rider University start on 1/25 and I’m anxiously looking forward to meeting my students, too! – K

  3. Elisabeth Robson says

    I completely agree with the ideas in the Cone of Learning. I write Head First books, and “learn by doing” is the core idea in these books.

    Thanks for the graphic! I’m going to use that Cone of Learning idea a lot.

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