The labs (learning as behaviors) framework for higher-order learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to contribute to greater conceptual clarity on the topic of higher-order learning, and to enable its potential empirical measurement. It includes a framework to show how this ability is developed by engaging in specific learning behaviors, each of which constitutes its own level of learning. Design/methodology/approach: Three criteria are used to develop the framework. Each learning behavior should lead to a change in long-term memory, should have empirical support for leading to a defined learning outcome, and should be applicable to workplace learning. Findings: The Learning As Behaviors (LABS) framework presents three novel propositions. Four key learning behaviors of taking on a challenge, attending to information, forming meaningful connections, and practicing with feedback are required to engage in higher-order learning. There is an optimal order to the learning behaviors. Any one individual is unlikely to be motivated to engage in all four learning behaviors. Research limitations/implications: The clear definitions and elaborated LABS framework provide a potential new means for empirical research. The learning behaviors provided are directly observable behaviors, each with its own measurable learning outcome. Originality/value: Historically, engaging in higher-order learning has been presented as a choice that is plagued by psychological forces of self-defense, ego and image management. This paper extends that view by presenting higher-order learning as a domain-specific ability to derive fundamental principles and patterns through critical reflection. It also develops three novel propositions that lend insight into the barriers that employees face as they engage in workplace learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalLearning Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018


  • Learning behaviors
  • Learning organizations
  • Levels of learning
  • Self-managed learning
  • Workplace learning


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