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My recollection of learning curve is from my days of selling self-study
training. The axes on the learning curve graph we used were time across the
bottom and skill level up the side -- the curve was like a hill. The idea
was that when you first set out to learn a skill, you don't know much. As
time goes on and you persist in the learning effort, you get near the top
of the curve (i.e., the "skilled apprentice" level, as we called it). But,
then, if you don't continue to work at the skill (to get to the "expert"
level at the top), it starts to go the way of the dinosaurs (down the hill,
so to speak) -- remember the language you learned in high school that you
never used again. We used this explanation to convince people that one of
the benefits of self-study training is that it could be at hand when the
downslide starts to happen -- to keep things from ending up in the mud.
barb -dot- ostapina -at- metromail -dot- com
...speaking only for myself.
Webster's New World College Dictionary (Third Edition, p. 769) defines a =
learning curve as:
1. the time required to learn certain information, acquire certain =
2. the rate of progress in such learning represented on or as if =
represented on a graph.
See? Not even the most astute lexicographers know what to make of the =
term mathematically. That leads me to believe it was invented by a =
non-mathematician, probably a marketing guy using Word 6.0 to write an =
overdue brochure late on a hot, sweaty Wednesday afternoon a few summers =
ago, right after his art disappeared for the third time.=20
I'll bet goofy metaphors like this fog things up especially well for ESL =
folks. Our readers should be able to put away their graphing =
calculators and get on with the narrative.
Speaking for myself, and not OEC Medical Systems
Salt Lake City, Utah
Michaelj -at- oecmed -dot- com