Is it Time to Adjust Our Approach to Learning?

Applied Clinical TrialsApplied Clinical Trials-03-01-2023
Volume 32
Issue 3

Noise in modern day life may be interfering with our ability to learn.

At a recent multigenerational family gathering, the millennials (and the boomers) were bemoaning the still-in-college-GenZs. “You get to learn all day. I miss that.” I would argue that those in the group that have jobs and responsibilities are still learning every day, but it’s a different learning because of said jobs and responsibilities. There is noise in our modern day life that can inhibit true learning over knee-jerk reactions.

There is probably no job or role today that doesn’t contain a modicum of learning. Whether it’s formal learning courses provided by your company, informal learning provided by your team, or personal learning during the course of your day, there are myriad opportunities from which to learn. But do we learn? Do we understand and incorporate the knowledge or information we have gleaned? Or are we too busy to get it and retain it?

In our article by Brian S. McGowan, PhD, as an expert in adult learning and change (his LinkedIn tagline is “Learning IS a Behavior”), outlines the three scientific fields that are fundamental in effective change management—learning, cognition, and behavioral economics. McGowan proposes that everyone can learn to change when best practices from these fields are integrated and leveraged to transform thinking and training approaches.

In the upcoming months, McGowan is going to share an article each on these three areas that offers a book for further reading, and an example of how it relates to clinical operations. Hopefully, this will lead to the stickiness of change management that is so desperately needed in our industry.

Sometimes, as I mentioned, the day-to-day is too overwhelming to take in new learnings. You’re too busy. The way you are doing things now works just fine. The way you relate to others is fine. You don’t understand why you need to learn this. It’s busy work.

But what if the way you are doing things is not optimal and there is a better way? What if the way you relate to others is causing unknown problems, and learning could make your work life more collaborative? And, finally, you may not know what you don’t know. Our business is about saving lives, and a little internal effort could go a long way in external realizations.

Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clinical Trials and can be reached at

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