Use the Stages of Learning to define and meet students’ needs

The Learning Hierarchy as defined by Haring, Lovitt, Eaton, & Hansen (1978) has 4 stages: acquisition, fluency, generalization, and MM900283665adaptation.  Understanding these stages can help you determine how to instruct your students in the most effective and efficient way.


The student is… The teacher should…
  •  just starting to learn the skill
  •  not able to perform it independently
  •  not performing the skill with accuracy 
  •  model performing the skill
  •  think-aloud while demonstrating
  •  give student constant feedback for redirecting errors, correct performance, and effort


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurately performing the task, but slowly with too much wait time


  • create activities for the student to respond actively while you observe
  • offer opportunities for repetitive practice
  • if possible, document speed and/or number of correct responses and set goals for increasing both
  • give feedback on fluency and accuracy and encourage effort


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurately and fluently responding
  • unable to apply skill in various contexts
  • confusing the skill with similar skills


  • create tasks that require the student to  use the skill regularly in various assignments/activities
  • work with parent to share ways to apply the skill outside school
  • if confusing the skill, create practice activities that require the student to discriminate between the similar skills and when each should be used
  • give feedback to reinforce accuracy and redirect errors


The student is… The teacher should…
  • accurate and fluent
  • able to apply task, but unable to modify the skill when necessary to fit new situations


  • assist the student in understanding the core element(s) of the task and possible situations for modification
  • create assignments/activities that require slight modifications initially, leading to greater modifications when appropriate
  • continue praise, corrective feedback, and encouragement

Once you have determined the stages your students have mastered, you can successfully cycle them through to the highest level of learning. The more frequently the students move through the stages, the more accelerated their learning will be!



3 thoughts on “Use the Stages of Learning to define and meet students’ needs

  1. You and one other reader I follow are the best teachers I know! Great advice; great post. Take care, Janyll…



    • Thank you so much! What an awesome compliment! Thanks for your support, I really appreciate it!!


      • You deserve the recognition, Janyll. To understand and then be able to teach others this kind of information is talent.

        You keep up the very good work! Talk to you later…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.