To learn to drive, you require many component skills, including knowing where the gas and brake pedals are and when to use them, how to steer, when and how to use your mirrors, all while following the rules of the road.

Experienced drivers find it very difficult to think of each component separately, not as a whole. They drive with a level of automaticity, knowing their reflexes will apply each component as needed.

Learning the component skills to achieve mastery is crucial in any classroom discipline. For example, in economics, physics, or chemistry, the application of a formula can be more easily learned if simple calculations like addition and multiplication have first been mastered so that no cognitive overload occurs. Having the component skills in place allows the learner to focus on the larger conceptual problem.

What concept in your discipline is like driving a car? Can you identify the component skills required to master this concept or skill?


This activity is part of the Mastery section of the Teacher for Learning Module.

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108 Responses for this Activity

  • Driving the Car to Counselling
    by Jennifer Lee (@jslee)

    Driving a Car – Using the Rudder !   As noted in the example of driving a car, we often forget what it is like to be a beginner and therefore skip steps along the way.   I teach several courses in the Career Development Practitioner Program. The counselling process  is  a prime example of a more… »

  • Like Driving a Car
    by Darby Anderson (@danderson)

    Within the Work Integrated Learning discipline, Co-operative Education more specifically, there are numerous components to the machine in order for it to run effectively.  Students regularly underestimate the importance of a resume.  The resume is a marketing tool, therefore students need to understand the product (themselves) and the selling features in order to gain buyer more… »

  • Driving a Car – the Rearview Mirror
    by Sheryl Third (@Sheryl)

    Reflective practice is a disposition required of Early Childhood Educators My role a Professor in this program is to provide opportunity for students to practice this skill so it becomes a disposition. One activity I do in 2 of the courses I teach is to provide a provocation (a video, a scenario, or case study) more… »

  • Like Driving a Car – Reflection in Leadership
    by Rob Harrison (@Rob H)

    In my leadership course, a key element is being able to consider how the theory and content we discuss in the course can be applied in a real-world context. While this is not specifically a key concept, it is an important part of the course learning outcomes. With something as abstract as leadership, encouraging students more… »

  • Communications and Grammar
    by Patrick Moore (@patrick.moore)

    This is a great topic when it comes to communications because it intersects so well. When engaging in effective communications, often the underlying grammatical structure of the language you are using is often overlooked, even though understanding that structure is vitally important in order to communicate. People without ‘formal’ grammar training still know grammar – more… »

  • Like Driving a Car-Hypothesis Testing
    by Valerie Watts (@vwatts)

    Most introductory statistics courses are organized in a similar way to driving a car.  Basic, component skills are taught first so that these skills can be applied to inferential statistics later in the course. For example, consider hypothesis testing, a very common and very important application in statistics.  There are many skills students must learn, more… »

  • Keep Learning to Drive That Car
    by Rachel Schultz (@Rachel Schultz)

    This is an interesting prompt, which I found challenging to apply to Group Dynamics until I realized that unlike driving a car, most aspects of Interpersonal skills perhaps should not be automatic and should take attention and effort. We get sloppy and tend to make more errors in dealing with others when we think that more… »

  • Like Driving a Car
    by Jenn Harren (@j_harren)

    See the attachment for the break down of components for note-taking in an interview compare to driving a car.

  • Writing as An Act of Choice – a threshold concept in Communications class
    by jill jones (@teacherlyjill)

    There are a couple of threshold concepts in the field of writing/composition. The most obvious one, in my opinion, is the writing process; once embraced, it becomes just like driving a car, to borrow eCampus’s analogy — it becomes a series of rote actions, where we don’t think about what to do next … it more… »

  • Like Driving a Car
    by Brian Percheson (@bpercheson)

    When we develop mastery, we ought to acquire component skills, practice integrating them and know when to apply what we have learned. We acquire our component skills, the theory to driving, in the classroom, both with independent study and group work tasks. We then practice integrating theory to practice, our driving knowledge, in a safe more… »

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