How people Learn – Part 1
514
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-514,single-format-standard,bridge-core-1.0.5,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-18.1,qode-theme-bridge,qode_header_in_grid,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.2,vc_responsive
 

How people Learn – Part 1

How people Learn – Part 1

“Learning styles” seem to be very popular these days in education.  However, the notion that each person learns differently is likely a myth (Olson, 2006; Feldon, 2005; Willingham, 2005). It is not a different learning style students enter instruction with, but different prior knowledge and experiences. In fact, when students receive instruction within their “style” of choice, they often perform more poorly on assessments (Salomon, 1984).  The explanation for this discrepancy is that students exert less mental effort on tasks they prefer due to perception of ease.  Therefore, the students are not as actively mentally engaged in the learning activities. Additionally, we must consider the biological nature of learning.  Human beings, in a physiological sense, are not very different and learning is a chemical/physiological process occurring in the brain.  Why should we think one person’s brain works fundamentally differently than another?  We do not think this about other organs.

Perhaps, instead of focusing on students’ “learning styles” we should focus on what representation best suits the content being learned.  Instead of thinking some students are “hands-on” learners while others are not, we must realize that all students will benefit from concrete representations of concepts.  If I want to teach students about changing the oil in a car, having some read about it and others do it and still others act it out is, I’m sorry to say, ridiculous.  All of the students will benefit from holding a wrench and checking the final levels.  This does not mean we should only teach in the concrete realm, we must consistently go back and forth between concrete and abstract.  By starting with concrete examples, teachers can have students continually link abstract ideas to their concrete experiences. Below, I expand on what is known about learning and how learning theories can inform our practice.

In my next post, I will begin discussing how learning theory (as opposed to learning “style”) more thoroughly explains learning and can better inform our practice.

(This excerpt originally appeared in Teaching as a Dynamic Activity – http://educatech.wordpress.com .  Follow Jerrid on Twitter (@jerridkruse)).

References.

Feldon, D.F. (2005). Dispelling a few myths about learning. UrbanEd 1(4), 37-39.

Olson, J.K. (2006). The Myth of Catering to Learning Styles.  Science & Children 44(2), 56-57.

Salomon, G. (1984). Television is “easy” and print is “tough”: the differential investment of mental effort in learning as a function of perceptions and attributions. Journal of Educational Psychology 76(4), 647-658.

Willingham, D.T. (2005). Do visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners need visual, auditory, and kinesthetic instruction? American Educator 29(2), 31-35, 44.

15 Comments
  • Louise Maine
    Posted at 08:49h, 22 April Reply

    Excellent. It seems ridiculous and perhaps in telling what they have learned in whatever format suits them best is more important, though that has nothing to do with learning styles and just about choice. It is the difficulty of the language of science that is the problem and the activation of prior knowledge to get to these beliefs. Moving students beyond their prior knowledge to learn the concepts can be a challenge. I look forward to your next post.

  • Louise Maine
    Posted at 04:49h, 22 April Reply

    Excellent. It seems ridiculous and perhaps in telling what they have learned in whatever format suits them best is more important, though that has nothing to do with learning styles and just about choice. It is the difficulty of the language of science that is the problem and the activation of prior knowledge to get to these beliefs. Moving students beyond their prior knowledge to learn the concepts can be a challenge. I look forward to your next post.

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 13:14h, 22 April Reply

    Excellent! How people #Learn – Part 1: http://bit.ly/8Ty5x #education

  • Jerrid Kruse
    Posted at 14:54h, 22 April Reply

    Ever felt Learning “style” didn’t quite fit? Check out: How People Learn, Part 1: http://bit.ly/8Ty5x (via @JasonFlom)

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 14:55h, 22 April Reply

    RT @jerridkruse: Ever felt Learning “style” didn’t quite fit? Check out: How People Learn, Part 1: http://bit.ly/8Ty5x (via @JasonFlom)

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 18:29h, 22 April Reply

    Do “learning styles” matter if you understand cognition? http://bit.ly/8Ty5x Read @jerridkruse ‘s scholarly approach to the question.

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 18:44h, 22 April Reply

    RT @JasonFlom: Do “learning styles” matter if you understand cognition? http://bit.ly/8Ty5x Read @jerridkruse ‘s scholarly approach .

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 16:48h, 24 April Reply

    @ellenfweber Yes.! If you haven’t already, see http://bit.ly/8Ty5x As we understand learning we improve our teaching. Brain res. matters!

  • Pingback:How People Learn: Part 2 - Constructivist Learning Theory | Ecology of Education
    Posted at 09:02h, 27 April Reply

    […] In the last installment of How People Learn, I will discuss how Developmental and Social Learning Theories can round out our understanding of the learner. Missed Part 1?  Read it here. […]

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 12:48h, 27 April Reply

    @nellygd Here’s the link to How People Learn, Part 1: http://bit.ly/8Ty5x

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 19:29h, 17 May Reply

    Interesting side-by-side reading: How People Learn http://tr.im/lB6E and 3 Basics to Improve Teaching http://tr.im/lB6R

  • David Bill
    Posted at 19:31h, 17 May Reply

    RT @kdwashburn: Interesting side-by-side reading: How People Learn http://tr.im/lB6E and 3 Basics to Improve Teaching http://tr.im/lB6R

  • nmcifvsm
    Posted at 03:41h, 15 July Reply

    nmcifvsm…

    nmcifvsm…

  • kdwashburn
    Posted at 18:46h, 24 September Reply

    @paulbogush Oh yes, saw this last week. Thanks! Here’s @jerridkruse’s posts on this: http://bit.ly/1OERfw & http://bit.ly/GLmPz

  • Trackback Submitter
    Posted at 00:53h, 05 December Reply

    How people Learn…

    […]You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already![…]…

Post A Comment