If someone walked up to you and asked, “how do you learn?”- will that seem strange? Think about it for a minute!
In our classrooms, whether it is a face-to-face class or an online class, we typically have a textbook we use, then if we are lucky the teacher will add some other external resources such as articles, worksheets, and some videos. How do we know which of these materials are beneficial to our students? How do you as a student know which of these materials will benefit you? I have had students over the years tell me that they prefer videos to reading a textbok. Others tell me that they prefer online games, where the system walks them through a problem, and allows them to solve each problem step by step. I’ve had others also tell me that they prefer the good old pen and paper with their textbook infront of them. Oh, and don’t forget the student who prefers the teacher in the classroom walking through concepts with them instead of an online computer system. Do you realize a pattern here? All of these students have different approaches to learning.
Over the last few years, at one point or another, we’ve heard the debate on learning styles. Some people believe that learning styles should be taken into consideration when instructing students. Others believe that learning styles are not important in instruction because there is no evidence that incorporating activities based on different learning styles improves the learning process. I promise that I didn’t make up the part about “no evidence on learning styles improving the learning process.” Take a look at this article from the Center for Teaching and Learning (Vanderbilt University). They do a great job defining what ‘learning style’ is, and go through the trouble of including research on the contradictory results from researchers on learning styles. What do you think?
This is what I think – I’ve had extensive experience working with various students at varying skill levels in math. I do believe we all learn differently. A student might grasp the concept of simultaneous equations in a shorter time if they use an adative system that is engaging. That same student might spend a longer time grasping that same concept if they are given a textbook to read. I am not agreeing with one part of the research against the other, I am sharing what I believe due to my experience. I do believe that it is imperative we take into consideration different learning styles when we instruct students. Isn’t there a saying that, “Experience is the best teacher?”
What has your experience been in the classroom as a teacher or as a student when it comes to learning? Do you prefer one method of teaching and learning or a combination of various methods? If you are an educator, how do you select learning tools for your class to make sure that all your students have a choice on what learning materials they use? If you are a homeschooling parent, how do you choose learning materials for your kids? Share your thoughts with me in the comment area. It will be enlightening to myself and my readers what others do to enhance learning.