TUM Learning Challenge 2021

Have you already made plans for 2021?
How about learning something new? Take part in the TUM Learning Challenge!

With the TUM Learning Challenge, we want to motivate you to learn something new. Our learning experts will provide helpful Learning Nuggets to facilitate your learning! Register for the TUM Learning Challenge and describe your personal learning goal: What do you want to learn 2021? As part of our Learning Community, you will then receive many helpful tipps that support you in achieving your personal learning goal.

Join now!


"I would like to continue with building and expanding my leadership skills this year."

"I started learning Japanese last year and want to be able to write and read as many kanji as possible by the end of this year."

"I want to pay more attention to balancing my time between family and work this year."



Lifelong learning is not only a necessity,

but a great desire many of us have: We wish to keep growing, to learn new things, and to share our views of the world with others. But sometimes this comes too short in the hustle and bustle of everyday (professional) life. With the TUM Learning Challenge, we want to encourage you to purposely make a resolution about what you want to learn in 2021. As research shows: The more concrete this learning goal, the greater the chance that you will achieve it!

Dr. Kristin Knipfer
Executive Director TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning



TUM Learning Nugget: Learning and Routines

Routines help with decision-making and can reduce stress in everyday life. Learn how you can de-stress your brain through routines and thus increase learning success.

Learning and Routines

In our hectic everyday life, it has become more and more relevant to balance our energy. Hereto, routines and habits can help. They accompany us through a flood of opportunities and decision-making that are awaiting us every day. Therefore, they also play an important role for learning.

Learning Nugget: How to identify and develop relevant routines

With this creative exercise, you can develop routines for mastering your personal Learning Challenge:

  1. Envision what you would like to learn or which personal or professional goal you would like to achieve within the next months. Be as specific as possible – use the SMART formula from our first learning nugget.
  2. Now imagine: We are six months ahead of today. You have failed! You have not achieved your goal. Explain in detail why you have failed – write it down if you like.
  3. Based on these learnings, reflect on which decisions you can make differently today and which routines will help you achieve your goal.

Tips and tricks to develop and stick with your routines:

Optimize the start, not the end goal. Make starting as easy and comfortable as possible. If your goal is to learn a new language, for example, why not have vocabulary cards ready all times or listen to a song in the preferred language every morning.

Make sure your environment fits to reach your goal.
Think about who or what can help you with your plans or what might become an obstacle?

Visualize your successes.
Even if they are only tiny steps: mark every calendar day with a cross, when you have managed to stick to a new routine. Thereby, it will become your new moment of happiness to simply not interrupt this „chain of success“.

Science Nugget: Why do routines help?

Cognitive Psychology shows that routines and habits save brain energy. If we needed to make all our everyday decisions attentively (e.g., How do I brush my teeth today? How do I put on socks?), our brain would be overstressed and our energy completely depleted after just a few hours. Cognitive decision research in particular has recognized the power of routines and sees them as essential for daily decision making. There are reasons why we use the saying „The power of habit“.

Info-Box:  If you want to learn more about...

... how to start and stop routines, read James Clear´s success book „Atomic Habits“ or Charles Duhigg’s book „The Power of Habit“.
... the development of a new routine, listen to an inspiring podcast about personal development topics: The Happiness Lab.

Anna Donato, TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning

TUM Learning Nugget: Learning and Mindset

Our Mindset is critical for our personal development. Learn how to unfold a growth mindset, accept challenges more willingly and thus achieve higher performance.

Learning and Mindset

Personal beliefs, thought patterns and routines can be decisive for whether we engage with new challenges, how we experience them and how we deal with success or failure. Prof. Carol Dweck’s concept of “mindset” - our attitude towards challenges and lifelong learning - can thus be crucial for our personal development.

Learning Nugget: How to unfold a Growth Mindset

People with a fixed mindset often believe that their skills and talents are inherent and therefore cannot be changed. Consequently, they tend to avoid challenges and therefore do not always reach their full potential. People with a growth mindset, however, believe that their skills and talents are the starting point for their further development and that lifelong learning is essential for their professional, and personal, advancement. They take on challenges more willingly and consciously and can achieve higher levels of performance as a result.
Typically, we all show a mixture of fixed and growth mindset. However, to unfold the growth mindset, it does not mean one needs to “ban” the fixed mindset. Instead, it helps to accept and analyze it:

Become aware of your Fixed-Mindset triggers.
Triggers are different for everyone. They can be setbacks, criticism from others or even meeting someone who seems smarter or more talented. Think about what triggers put you into a fixed mindset.


Pay attention to your fixed mindset reactions.
When you face challenges, do you feel incapable or does an inner voice warn you against it? Accept these thoughts and feelings and work with them.

Transform your fixed mindset into a growth mindset.
You may hear yourself saying in challenging situations, “I don't have what it takes!”. A simple but very effective method in such situations is to end this sentence as often as possible with a “yet”.

Science Nugget: Why a Growth Mindset supports your learning

Research shows that people who are convinced of the changeability of their talent or intelligence are more willing and less fearful to expose themselves to unknown situations. They take setbacks or failures as a starting point to explore their full potential.

If we are convinced that it is, in most cases, not a question of born talent but of the process that leads to learning - such as constant practice and trying out new strategies - we can benefit from constructive feedback and foster a growth mindset.

Info-Box: If you want to learn more about...

... Growth-Mindset, read the book "Mindset" of Standford-Professor Dr. Carol S. Dweck or follow her interesting Ted Talk.
... the role of different mindsets in Leadership, read this interesting article.

Thomas Münch, TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning

TUM Learning Nugget: Learning and Experiences

Experience is the source of knowledge. Learn how to develop strategies to face similar situations more successfully in the future by reflecting and analyzing your experiences.

Learning and Experiences

Much of what we learn, we learn from experience. When playing the piano, for example, we learn how our hand can master a passage by practicing it repeatedly. We can then intuitively apply the same approach to similar passages in the future.
Experiential learning often happens “in passing” and unnoticed in everyday life. However, if you want to learn something specific - as in your TUM Learning Challenge - you can actively take control of your own experiential learning.

Learning Nugget: How to learn from experiences

By reflecting on your experiences, analyzing your reactions to a particular situation, and developing generic strategies from them, you will also be able to face similar situations more successfully in the future. To learn as much as possible from a practical experience as part of your TUM Learning Challenge, keep the following points in mind:

Make a concret experience
When you try or practice something, the connection between cause and effect should be clearly observable.

Prepare well
Be aware of what precisely you are going to learn and what strategy you are going to try.

Reflect on the experience
What was good? Where were problems? What would you do differently next time?

Accept mistakes and experiment
It probably won't work right away - the crucial thing is to analyze what you experienced and deliberately do something different the next time you try it.

Get help
Shared experiences promote the refinement of solution strategies and more experienced people can show you things that are difficult to explain.

Science Nugget: Why experiences help with leaning

The notion of experiential learning is based on the understanding that knowledge is constructed by ourselves. Through reflection and analysis of what we experience, we form abstract, experience-independent concepts and theories, in other words, knowledge. In this way, we can transfer insights once gained to other situations.

This approach helps you increase the efficiency of your learning by making the most of learning experiences. It encourages you to give more space to practical experience, even in topics where you might otherwise limit yourself to the acquisition of more abstract knowledge.


Info-Box: If you want to learn more about...

 ... experiential learning, read this informative blog post.
 ... Learning types and learning cycle by Kolb, visit this information page.
Dr. Emanuel Schreiner, TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning


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