What goal-directed learning is and why it’s important for adolescents to learn from their actions, researcher says

Imagine you’re at a carnival and want to win a big stuffed toy. You play different games and, if successful, collect tickets. But it’s not the tickets you care about, it’s the big toy they’ll buy.

And you’re likely to stick to the easier games to earn as many tickets as possible.

An experience like this would be goal-directed learning, says Juliet Davidow, assistant professor of psychology at Northeastern University.

“You experience something and then you take something away from that experience, whether it was good or bad,” she says, “and then that guides you into whether you want to put yourself in that experience again.”

Davidow, who leads the Learning and Brain Development Lab at Northeastern, recently conducted a detailed review of multiple scientific experiments to determine how much scientists know about adolescent goal-directed learning. She was able to isolate findings that may benefit adolescents today.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

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