Incidental learning

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Incidental learning is learning that is not planned by either the instructor or the student but occurs as a byproduct of another activity, which may be an experience, observation, self reflection, interaction, unique event or common routine task. Learning which happens in addition to or apart from the instructor‘s plans and the student‘s expectations.

Incidental learning is an occurrence that is not generally accounted for using the traditional methods of instructional objectives and outcomes assessment. This type of learning occurs in part as a product of social interaction and active involvement in both online and onsite courses. Research implies that there are un-assessed aspects of onsite and online learning which challenge the equivalency of education between the two modalities. Both onsite and online learning have distinct advantages with traditional on-campus students experiencing higher degrees of incidental learning in three times as many areas as online students. Additional research is called for to investigate the implications of these findings both conceptually and pedagogically.[1]


  1. ^ Konetes, George (2011). "The Effects of Distance Education and Student Involvement on Incidental Learning". IUP Doctoral Disserations: 115. Retrieved 7/12/2014.