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The Descriptive Index

The past few years have been dominated by writing. Some of my work lends itself well to delivery in the form of articles and stories. These articles are listed below by general topic although many, if not most, contain combined thoughts on the topics of learning, motivation, achievement and teaching. For that reason a brief content description accompanies each title.

Those of you on the email notification list will be informed when new articles are added here.

Enjoy and use well what you find here.


Newest articles


Marbles In Your Mouth: Tiptoeing into the world of foreign language learning - part 2

by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



May 2009: In this article I continue to explore the nature of foreign language learning for adults. This article discusses the 2 most critical elements of the language to be learned FIRST, upon which all other language skills develop. I have also discussed how different programs relate to these important starting points.

Part 3of this article will be available in July 2009. Those on the notification list will receive a message when it is complete.


Marbles In Your Mouth:
Tiptoeing into the world of foreign language learning - part 1


by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



April 2009: After 3 and 1/2 years exploring the nature of foreign language learning in adulthood I am starting to write about this fascinating world of learning and teaching.

In this first article I start by addressing the 2 most common cultural myths. The first that learning a foreign language is just TOO hard. The second is the notion that children learn languages faster and better than adults.




Some interesting ideas about goal achievement
Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


  FOR: If you have a long list of goals or tasks you successfully and repeatedly avoid even though you've done all the good goal setting and planning courses then this article will give you a new understanding.

CONTENTS: In this article I discuss how my theories and strategies on goal achievement relate to the strategies espoused by those teaching goal setting, time management, planning and chunking? In this article you will also find a new way of understanding goal achievement as it relates to the phenomena of motivation, action, procrastination and willpower.


Bad feelings can be very good for motivation!
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



FOR: Anyone who has found that sometimes the positive benefits of achieving a goal fails to motivate you.

CONTENTS: This article discusses how focusing on the positive benefits of achieving a goal may not be compelling enough to motivate your behaviour in the present time. This point came loud and clear during my lecture in Melbourne with the Olympic Tae Kwon Do team in July.


Conquering the dreaded second time!
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


FOR: Those interested in the combined topics of experiential learning and goal achievement.

CONTENTS: In this article I use my experience of training as a sprinter with one of Australia's most renown sprint coaches and a group of elite athletes to illuminate one of the major stumbling blocks to goal achievement ... namely getting past the 2nd action if the 1st action was frightening, painful, discomforting or very hard. Without an ability to survive the second attempt there is no further learning and no goal achievement.


Life Exerts Itself
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


  FOR: For anyone who has confronted unexpected events impinging upon the actions they are taking toward their goals (such as illness, travel, work commitments) and as a result the goal has been abandoned.

CONTENTS: In this goal achievement article I discuss how to sustain movement toward a goal when "life exerts itself." Those times when some thing you could not plan for has happened and interfered with your best laid plans of taking action toward your goal (like breaking a finger the week you were going to start guitar lessons). In this article we go back to the athletics track for dramatic, unexpected events that affected sprinter Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, coach Jackie Byrnes and I in the recent past to illustrate the problem. I then discuss the cognitive and behavioural strategies we used to sustain action toward our respective goals.


Great real-time motivation strategies
by Paul Hankin

  FOR: Those looking for a few good quick strategies to apply when you just can't seem to get going.

CONTENTS: This article is a contribution from one of my past students. It contains interesting and clever strategies that fit right into the goal achievement model. You will get heaps of good ideas from this piece and I would recommend trying them out for yourself.


Applying the strategies of Move Closer Stay Longer

Baxter Moves Closer
and Stays Longer

by Pam Potter




Each week Move Closer, Stay Longer is being shipped to new destinations worldwide.

Correspondence is regularly received to thank Stephanie for sharing her fear strategies as their application is having a positive impact on a multitude of life activities for people.

Here is a story which outlines one family's use of the strategies when applied to learning to swim.

Oh we stayed a LONG time
by Pam Potter

Baxter Lego


This is the continuing story of a family's use of Move Closer, Stay Longer strategies. 

See the article "Baxter Moves Closer and Stays Longer" for the first part of this particular story. 

Each week over the past 18 months we have continued to receive stories from people across the globe who are applying these strategies to improve their quality of life. 

Creating a new habit
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



FOR: Those who regularly forget, or fail, to do the useful daily tasks that if done would make life healthier, less stressed, or more relaxed.

CONTENTS: A great life skill to have at your disposal is the skill to create new good habits or to break existing bad (or no longer desired) habits. Based on a subset of the work from the Goal Achievers Program I recently have become successful in teaching strategies that when applied actually work to build new habits!



On-line teaching:
The important issues and what I am doing about them
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns

Stephanie Burns on-line store

  FOR: This article is for anyone who plans on using or designing on-line learning programs. Most definitely for anyone who agrees that most of what is currently available on-line is nothing more than a powerpoint presentation and all that's bad in training about that! For anyone who has already come to believe that on-line learning is impersonal, can't compare to 'live' teaching, is just powerpoint on-line, or think you may be a bit too old for it all!

CONTENTS: Since 1999 I have been researching and experimenting with the development of viable teaching methods for use in on-line learning courses. The latest of that work can be now found via the "crystal ball" on the shelf.

This article was the first expression of my thinking in this new area. It still contains many important ideas which are not repeated elsewhere.


Teaching Internet literacy using on-line teaching methods
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


FOR: This article has many dimensions and would be of interest to most visitors to this website.

CONTENTS: This article announces the Internet Literacy project which commenced in November 2000. This project is for the design of an on-line learning solution to address the need for Internet literacy in many segments of society. In this article I describe the problem, the proposed solution and the unique way I chose to tackle the project.


A psychologist's evaluation of Stephanie Burns' on-line teaching methods
by Paul Martin


FOR: Those following or thinking of using on-line teaching methods in their organisations.

CONTENTS: This article is a critical review of the online teaching methods used in one of the on-line courses "Who's Driving the Bus". It highlights important issues related to online learning and their impact on student behaviour.


The key to on-line teaching is writing in a style that can be heard
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns
with short stories from students of the Writer's Table program



FOR: This article is for just about anyone who uses writing as a means to communicate. Even for those who would like to consider writing as an option for the future. There are also 4 short stories to illustrate the lessons of this article.

CONTENTS: Never more than for the creation of an on-line learning course is the style and quality of writing so important. It indeed needs to take the place of your "voice" in a meeting, a training or a sales pitch. Very little is written about this phenomenon, let alone done about it. For many years I have been doing exercises to stimulate and strengthen the voice in my writing. I discuss this in this article. I have also begun to teach writing skills using these same exercises in the "Writer's Table" on-line learning course. Samples from student assignments are found in this piece.


Voice Recognition with Bob!
A taste of the on-line learning experience
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



FOR: Those curious about how a technical competence can be taught using on-line methods. Those interested in voice recognition technology.

CONTENTS: It amazes me what amazed me when I first started to experiment with on-line teaching methods.

Teaching the skill of dictation and how to use voice recognition software via an on-line learning course was such a rich experience I found it difficult to write about. My tact was, therefore, to write a personal piece on what struck me most while I conducted this course. I also address the critics of voice recognition technology.


Getting Attention and Motivating Participation in an on-line, self-directed learning program
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns
  FOR: Trainers, Managers, Designers

CONTENTS: This is an article focusing on interesting issues I have had to consider in relation to making my work available in on-line formats. Students of Training To Train know that I believe there are two critical skills for maximising the audiences learning. One is the ability to hold an audience/reader's ATTENTION on the point where the learning occurs. The second is the ability to motivate the audience to PARTICIPATE - to do things, to try things. If you have experienced any of my work then you will have seen my methods of doing these two things in practice.

Now, as I move into on-line expressions of my work I am taking on a big challenge - solving the problem of how to hold the visitors attention and then motivate them to take action (in absence of a trainer) for the sake of actually learning something. This article will tell you what I am doing to solving this problem and what to look out for as I test these new concepts. If my approaches work, they will help to revolutionise the success of on-line, cbt, and self-paced training programs - and by success I do not mean the ability to sell on-line courses. I mean the user's ability to learn from these programs and see them to completion!


What causes a student to quit an on-line course before it even begins!
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns



FOR: All trainers, designers, potential on-line students.

CONTENTS: One of the significant issues in the subject of self-directed, on-line and computer-based learning is that of completion. We are just beginning to see a rash of research studies in the U.S. and elsewhere, focusing on the phenomenon of the abandonment of learning pursuits before completion. This is the issue that I have been arguing has the serious potential to undermine the whole assimilation of on-line learning as a serious method of teaching. The completion rates I have been given by colleagues using this method in their organisation is appallingly low - sometimes as low as 4%. I believe that many notions related to this issue are looking in the wrong direction for both the causes and for the solutions. Hence, my own efforts in this area.

At the time I wrote this article I had just started to test new instructional design and on-line teaching methods, in which completion was one of the highlights. In this article I discussed some of the factors that undermine motivation and action toward the goal between the time when the decision and commitment to learn a skill are made and the time when the first action is taken. This is the phase which my volunteers for the first on-line test have completed, and my mind is full of what I had to account for in my design to ensure minimal drop out rates prior to the formal first lesson.



The Silly Bridge
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns

pdf download only


FOR: Anyone who still lets the thoughts of other people to have a negative affect on their learning and goals.

CONTENT: One of the keys to persistence in learning relates to the affect other people have had on our learning behaviour. We develop a long term disability .. fear to step out of our comfort zone. I addressed this using The Silly Bridge model I learned from Larry Wilson many years ago. It was a very popular model I used during my years at the Discovery Program for teens and later in Learning To Learn. This is its latest incarnation in a unique context.


versus Goals

by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns

pdf download only



FOR: Teachers of all stripes.

CONTENT: There are times, when we as teachers, throw away our principles in order to achieve our teaching goals. In these instances we can harm the confidence of our students. This is an important aspect of teaching we must come to terms with within ourselves.


Learning about human behaviour from natural horseman Pat Parelli
by Pat Parelli
(and annotated by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns)

  FOR: Anyone whose primary tool of influencing others and the marketplace is communication! All my Training To Train students in search of a great role model for artistry and elegance in communication.

CONTENTS: I am always keen to meet individuals who are known for their mastery of verbal/visual communication. Through his wife Linda, a graduate of Training To Train (1991) I was made aware of Pat Parelli's work. In this article I introduce you to the work of this masterful teacher. Pat Parelli exhibits all the attributes of artistry in his teaching I speak of in my programs, and there is much for any trainer to learn from his work (whether you could pick a horse out of a crowd or not!). In this article I annotate one of hundreds of Pat's articles in which his philosophy and knowledge of teaching new behaviours is masterfully expressed.

Quite astonishingly, Pat's work and mine meet very close to the mid-line. I hope you enjoy this encounter, and for some of you I would hope you find Pat a good role model for your own teaching, whether your students are horses or humans or somewhere in between.



A funny thing happened when I was learning to use voice recognition software!
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns

In my office, talking away!


FOR: Anyone who needs a good laugh. Anyone struggling to master some piece of new technology. Those interested in the process of learning.

CONTENTS: This was supposed to be an article on learning strategies (how-to). Specifically, learning to use new technology. Instead, what you will find is a funny view of the process of learning.

This article brings you to my desk in the middle of an attempt to take what I have learned and put it to use. It was a total disaster. My first thought was to trash the lot, but then I thought "What a rare insight into the experience of learning itself."

I hope you laugh as much as I did (when you start to understand what is happening).


My horse bites
by Pat Parelli (and annotated by sb)

My horse Nugget


FOR: All trainers, teachers, managers, parents! Oh, and all dog, parrot and horse owners (you know, those pets with attitude!)

CONTENTS: Your horse bites, well my students bite too ... What we 'do' and 'say' creates behavioural responses in those around us. Now, that sounds obvious, but how many times do we continue to encounter the same less than useful behaviour in our students, pets and family members.

Behaviour is behaviour. And, the beauty is that we can learn from the master teachers regardless of which species their craft is applied. For that reason, I follow with great interest the work of Pat Parelli. This in spite of the fact I know next to nothing about horses. What you will find here is the second of Pat's written pieces I chose to help you reflect on your skills as an educator, manager or coach.




Achieving quality communication in groups, face-to-face or even with just yourself using CCS Cards
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


FOR: Anyone currently using the CCS Cards at home or in the office and .... all trainers who facilitate processes that involve participants sharing ideas and information with one another. All consultants, managers, coaches or counselors facilitating one-to-one communications, such as, performance reviews, issue breakers, setting goals or induction and ... any individual who keeps a journal or uses any kind of reflective process to help grow them in business, their relationship or personally.

CONTENTS: This article describes the CCS Cards that many of you have seen me using recently in courses, such as, Training To Train and the Goal Achievers Program. I also use the CCS cards in many of my on-line learning programs.

In this article I discuss what it is I find I am better able to do as a trainer when using the cards, and how I discovered a use for the cards as a self-communication tool. I have used the cards at my desk nearly everyday since October, 1999. Since beginning to use the cards in my own work and life, I have watched as others have taken this unique communication tool and applied it to a seemingly unlimited number of situations within the workforce and home environment. I discuss what I have experienced in both my own communication situations and what I have witnessed in others.


Answering the 13 most asked questions about Training To Train
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


FOR: For all those who still have questions about Training To Train. For anyone who has had no experience with me as a professional trainer you will find good insights into my philosophy about teaching.

CONTENTS: As Training To Train passes final expression I have been going through my files. There I found an article in question and answer format that had been constructed from an interview. It actually answers the most frequently asked questions about the program and expresses my philosophy about training in a unique way.




If you can't remember it ... you didn't learn it
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns
(excerpt from Great Lies We Live By)


FOR: Anyone involved in a new learning situation, or who plans to soon re-enter a learning situation. This article is appropriate for students of all ages. This article is also for anyone hears themselves occasionally saying ... "I have a bad memory."

CONTENTS: All learning is dependent upon your ability to make the information memorable and to then retrieve this information when needed. This article sets the record straight about memory, and also provides some good basic strategies. The news is that YOU CAN'T HAVE A BAD MEMORY!!


Why is taking notes so important in learning?
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns


FOR: Anyone who regularly takes notes in conferences, meetings, or while studying.

CONTENTS: Notes serve an important purpose in the area of learning and remembering. This is a short piece with an argument for making your notes unique and a few thoughts about how to do that.

This piece was excerpted from my book Great Lies We Live By before it went into reprint. You can now purchase copies of the book from the office. For good measure I have kept this excerpt in with the articles.

How to learn from text-based information you find on the Internet
by Dr. Stephanie A. Burns

FOR: All students. Anyone who is finding it difficult to be efficient with information on the Internet, and that might include getting value from the amount of information available in this newsletter. For website designers, and trainers thinking of using the Internet to teach.

CONTENTS: This article discusses the variety of ways we need to approach information delivered via the Internet in order to effectively use that information. The Internet is a wholly new phenomenon and our approaches need to be thought through carefully.




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