I think I understand what both trvvn5 and suzeeq are saying and I believe I agree with their intend but I do not agree with what they said. Before retiring I spend many years in and as a project manager and have a Master Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.
I understand that a project is a task with a start and and end that has a specific objective. A gauge swatch is a project, a pattern test swatch is a project, a swatch to practice a stitch or a group of stitches is a PROJECT.
I find that just knitting a swatch of stitches to be boring and has an inherent problem. I have found (MY OPINION) that it is easy to incorrectly preform a stitch in the test and without someone to look at my test stitch project I may not know that I am doing the stitch incorrectly.
If I am doing a small pattern item, I can compare the picture of the finished item to my test project and get a better feel on how well I am progressing.
In addition if I were to knit a flat test project of a single stitch knitting one stitch on both the right side (RS) and wrong side (WS) creates a garter stitch effect. As in garter stitch the project would have a front side stitch row followed by a back side row making it difficult to see how well I am performing the stitch.
You DO NOT have to do a pattern project to learn a stitch or how to knit. However, In My Humble Opinion, I would rather frog often and know I am doing it correctly then to not frog and learn a stitch incorrectly.
This is my opinion and I realize that in many threads different opinion and not popular. But, I have always believed that we learn by looking at multiple approaches to a task.