Benchmark Institute is a training and performance development organization dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of legal services to low-income communities.
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Best Practices in Learning
This page is devoted to practical applications of adult learning theory. It’s geared to those who do
• staff training
• community legal education for clients.

Benchmark Learning Philosophy
Guidelines for Participation

Future additions will include case studies as well as learning modules and performance tools about training.
Benchmark Learning Philosophy

Learn by Doing
People retain knowledge and skills if they have immediate and repeated opportunities to practice what is learned.

Informal Atmosphere
Learning increases in an atmosphere that is the least
reminiscent of any formal schooling

Variety of Methods
Research has demonstrated that learning proceeds most quickly when information reaches the learner through more than one sensory channel. We use methods directed at the visual, auditory and kinesthetic channels.

Guidance Not Grades
We use no devices for comparative evaluation of your progress. We offer honest individualized feedback with explicit performance standards. We help you set achievable learning goals and suggest ways to meet them.

No Tricks, Traps or Red Herrings
Such artifice hinders and sometimes prevents learning.

Learning by Layering
We believe in layering information – basic information first, followed by exercises and experiences to use and practice applying the information. We aim to set cognitive hooks in the mind so that you can identify issues, recognize critical information in life-like situations. We do not believe in memorize and regurgitate.

Learning How to Learn
Information and knowledge are increasing exponentially. A key skill is learning how to improve your ability to learn. First steps are becoming aware of the value in setting learning goals and identifying your preferred sensory channels for taking in information.

Guidelines for Participation


All persons here are of equal worth and value; all opinions are valued and needed.

• Be Present Minimize distractions; avoid multitasking. Participate. If you tend to be quiet in group situations, work on increasing your contributions – we're here to learn from one another. Avoid monopolizing the discussion by talking too much or too long.

•  Listen.
We all will be speaking from our experiences; we talk about what is true for us. We agree to listen to one another with respect. Areas will arise where we agree to disagree.

•  Ask Questions Asking questions is a great way to learn; it is not a sign of weakness. Help create an atmosphere where it is easy to for everyone to ask questions.
• Express your needs and expectations constructively. Let us know what you need and expect. Please do it in a way that maximizes the possibility that people will hear you and respond.
• Explore new options, perceptions and assumptions; consider new experiences before passing judgment.

•  Extend yourself, take risks, make mistakes in pursuit of learning.
Learning doesn’t happen if you don’t.
• Honor confidentiality.
• Cheat! Work and share information with other people.

•  Give feedback in an honest way that helps others.
Please speak in “I” terms: “I think; I feel; I believe; It’s been my experience that.”

•  Feedback is a gift. Be open to receiving it from others, try to understand not defend.
• Be on time for sessions.
• Do your best. Enjoy!