Re: References to the "Learning Curve"

Subject: Re: References to the "Learning Curve"
From: Tracy Boyington <tracy_boyington -at- OKVOTECH -dot- ORG>
Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 08:33:41 -0500

I think "learning curve" is a phrase that, like "I could care less," has
come to mean the exact opposite of what it really says. If you graphed
the time it takes to gain mastery, a steeper "learning curve" would mean
less time, and a flatter "learning curve" would mean more time. But
people don't see this graph in their head and instead associate "steep"
with the difficulty of climbing a steep hill. Therefore, when you use
the phrase "steep learning curve," half of your audience will think
"difficult" and half will think "easy." So I suggest we abolish the
concept of the learning curve altogether. And that's my heresy for the
day. :-)


> Would someone on the list please tell me what the "learning curve" looks =
> like. People keep referring to difficult software as having a "steep =
> learning curve". I have looked in the archives and people have referred =
> to the curve as "short", "sharp", and "slow". I have no idea what these =
> descriptions mean.=20
> My dictionary reports that its x-axis is Time and its y-axis is Mastery. =
> If that is true, then a "steep" curve means mastery in a short time. A =
> difficult learning experience would have a "flat" curve, not a "steep" =
> one. That is, it would take a long time to gain a small amount of =
> competence.=20

Tracy Boyington mailto:tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org
Oklahoma Dept. of Vocational & Technical Education
Stillwater, OK, USA

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