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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61 Responses for this Activity

  • Mastery Learning
    by Isaac Kimunio (@Dr. Isaac Kimunio)

    Using your discipline, explain what concept is like driving a car. Four key economic concepts—scarcity, supply and demand, costs and benefits, and incentives—can help explain many decisions that humans make 2.   Explain the component skills required to master this concept Economists should also possess the following specific qualities: Analytical skills. Economists must be able to review data, more… »

  • Sitting with discomfort
    by Kate MacIsaac (@kmacisaac)

    I facilitate workshops and training sessions related to helping skills and incorporate role plays frequently. Something I notice is that participants frequently want to jump to solutions to alleviate discomfort instead of sitting through the discomfort of themselves and the person they are helping. I’ve broken down “sitting with discomfort” into a few different skills more… »

  • Researched Writing
    by Susanmarie Harrington (@susanmarieh)

    So many skills involved in researched writing!  I’m probably going to remember a few more later today….

  • Like driving a car, a formula car!
    by Pamela LeBrun (@PamLeBrun)

    Excel formulas and functions, need I say more? Take a look at my strategy for teaching these challenging Excel tools.

  • Like driving an iceberg?
    by Michelle Laurence (@Michelle Laurence)

    The expertise need to drive a car is the tip of the iceberg with regard to the skills needed. So why not mash-up the metaphors? In kinesiology, preparing an exercise prescription is the tip of the iceberg. The FITT principle makes it look even more simple, especially as an expert – you just roll out more… »

  • Responsive Relationships
    by Tricia Bonner (@Tbone)

    See the attached activity description.

  • Presentation Skills
    by jessica srivastava (@Jessica)

      I remember when I first came to Canada, I had to do my driver’s test again. I had been driving for 7 years already in England but here, I failed 2 times for not looking in the mirror often enough and not stopping the required distance from the stop line! Obviously, driving had become second nature and I did more… »

  • Key skills for developing an online course
    by Alissa Bigelow (@alissabigelow)

    When working with faculty to develop online courses some key considerations we work through with them are: Developing an online presence. We know from the Community of Inquiry framework (University of Toronto) there are 3 types of presence; teaching, social and cognitive and it is important to build in activities and opportunities to allow each more… »

  • Like Driving a Car
    by Lori Hallahan (@lhallahan)

    Please see the attached Like Driving a Car activity.

  • 9 Piece Nuggets Pac
    by Terry Greene (@terrygreene)

    See the response here in which Chuck Pearson’s Just Listen Patch is turned into a big 9 pack of philosophical nuggets

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