The Black Box Of Learning: Why Students Get Anxious

“What if I haven’t studied enough?” “What if I get asked a tricky question?” “What if I forget what I studied?” “What if I still have gaps I haven’t found yet?” Well, I tell you that all of these questions arise from the same underlying cause: the black box of learning.

What Is The Black Box?

The term “black box” comes from the field of engineering and refers to a system that can be observed only in terms of its inputs and outputs, without any knowledge of its internal workings. There is often a problem with understanding or observing the internal processes of complex systems, so the term is often used to describe them.

Learning is characterized by the black box effect because learners are not always aware of the learning process. While learners may have a clear understanding of what they are expected to learn and what their learning outcomes should be, they may not fully comprehend the mechanisms by which they are learning. Lack of understanding can result in anxiety and stress for learners, as they may feel as if they are not in control of their own learning and are uncertain how to improve.

The inputs to learning are “time and effort”, and the outputs may be “good exam results” for students in formal education. The anxiety arises when students are unclear about how time and effort make good results possible.

Due to the black box, many students will engage in avoidant behaviors. For example, they may avoid situations in which uncertainties about learning or gaps in knowledge may be exposed for fear of causing anxiety.

  • To avoid finding gaps and mistakes in learning, avoid difficult tests
  • Avoiding uncertainty by procrastinating
  • Social media has become a more willing distraction
  • Stress-related disengagement from learning

This is similar to the behaviour of someone who is Enochlophobic (afraid of large crowds of people). Those who suffer from