Presentation on theme: "Considering Learning Styles: Communicating with Technology Jane Holbrook March 6 th, 2007."— Presentation transcript:
Considering Learning Styles: Communicating with Technology Jane Holbrook March 6 th, 2007
Goals for the Session What are learning styles and how do we assess them and accommodate for them? How does learning take place in the brain and how does this relate to learning style? How can understanding learning styles and the brain influence our communications?
What is a learning style? “Learning styles are cognitive, affective and psychological behaviours that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.” (Keefe, 1978) An individual’s “characteristic and preferred way of gathering, interpreting, organizing, and thinking about information” (Davis, 1993).
Meet George and Mary: Reads New Scientist and The Economist and newspapers, but also enjoys novels Enjoys sharing factual information in discussions Likes individual activities like computer games (strategy, not role playing) Did not enjoy team sports in high school but was a keen fencer Hand written notes are a mess Can see the relationship between concepts from different disciplines Often takes the lead in group work Loved to play team sports in high school, and is still very concerned with fitness Reads novels sporadically Loves to draw and make things Makes neat, concise notes Enjoys designing solutions, but hates memorizing facts Very adept at multitasking, likes music or TV while working Only enjoys working in groups if the other members of the group are known We know that these two people are going to learning differently - how and why?
Learning Style Models Sensing and Process - Felder and Silverman Personality and thus behaviour - Jung’s Theory of Psychological Type – Myers-Briggs Type indicator Social Interaction
Felder and Silverman ACTIVE / REFLECTIVE LEARNERS Active learners tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it - discussing or applying it or explaining it to others. “Let's try it out and see how it works”. Like working in groups. Reflective learners prefer to think about it quietly first, create theories, mental models “Let's think it through first”. Like working alone.
SENSING / INTUITIVE LEARNERS Sensing learners tend to like learning facts, often like solving problems by well-established methods and dislike complications and surprises; tend to be patient with details and good at memorizing facts and doing hands-on (laboratory) work. Intuitive learners often prefer discovering possibilities and relationships, and like innovation and dislike repetition; may be better at grasping new concepts and are often more comfortable than sensors with abstractions and mathematical formulations.
VISUAL / VERBAL LEARNERS Visual learners remember best what they see - pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films, and demonstrations. Verbal learners get more out of words - written and spoken explanations. Everyone learns more when information is presented both visually and verbally.
SEQUENTIAL AND GLOBAL LEARNERS Sequential learners tend to gain understanding in linear steps, with each step following logically from the previous one. Sequential learners tend to follow logical stepwise paths in finding solutions. “Bottom-up” Global learners tend to learn in large jumps, and then suddenly "getting it." Global learners may be able to solve complex problems quickly or put things together in novel ways once they have grasped the big picture, but they may have difficulty explaining how they did it. “Top down”
Can we generalize ? In general: More people are active than reflective More people are sensing than intuitive More people are visual than verbal More people are sequential than global Are we really like this or are we trained to be like this? ActiveReflective
ActiveSensoryVisualSequential Engineering Students 56%63%74%53% Biology Students 65%77%74%83% Faculty 38%42%94%35% Felder, 2002 Comparing Groups:
Myers-Briggs Indicator Extraverts (E) (try things out, focus on the outer world of people) vs Introverts (I) (think things through, focus on the inner world of ideas). Sensors (S) (practical, detail-oriented, focus on facts and procedures) vs Intuitors (N) (imaginative, concept- oriented, focus on meanings and possibilities). Thinkers (sceptical, tend to make decisions based on logic and rules) or Feelers (appreciative, tend to make decisions based on personal and humanistic considerations). Judgers (set and follow agendas, seek closure even with incomplete data) or Perceivers (adapt to changing circumstances, postpone reaching closure to obtain more data).
4 Educational Patterns ES pattern: concrete active (extroverted sensing) learners are action-oriented realists, the most practical of the four patterns, and learn best when useful applications are obvious. IS pattern: concrete reflective (introverted sensing) learners are thoughtful realists preferring to deal with what is real and factual in a careful, unhurried way. EN pattern: abstract active (extroverted intuitive) are action- oriented innovators having wide- ranging interests and liking new possibilities as challenges to make something happen. IN pattern: abstract reflective (introverted intuitive) are thoughtful innovators, introspective and scholarly, interested in knowledge for its own sake; they value ideas, theory, and depth of understanding.
In General ….. ES IN EN IS 50% 20% 10%
How do we assess people for their learning style? The Index of Learning styles is a 44 question instrument – designed to assess the preferences on the four scales of the Felder-Silverman Model, when submitted on line is scored and returned to the submitter with the scale scores on the four dimensions and a brief explanation of how the scores can be interpreted.
Let’s take the test! 1.When I am learning something new, it helps me to (a) talk about it. (b) think about it. 2.If I were a teacher, I would rather teach a course (a) that deals with facts and real life situations. (b) that deals with ideas and theories. 3.When I get directions to a new place, I prefer (a) a map. (b) written instructions. 4.When I solve math problems (a) I usually work my way to the solutions one step at a time. (b) I often just see the solutions but then have to struggle to figure out the steps to get to them.
5. In reading nonfiction, I prefer (a) something that teaches me new facts or tells me how to do something. (b) something that gives me new ideas to think about. 6. I like teachers (a) who put a lot of diagrams on the board. (b) who spend a lot of time explaining. 7. When I'm analyzing a story or a novel (a) I think of the incidents and try to put them together to figure out the themes. (b) I just know what the themes are when I finish reading and then I have to go back and find the incidents that demonstrate them. 8. I learn (a) at a fairly regular pace. If I study hard, I'll "get it." (b) in fits and starts. I'll be totally confused and then suddenly it all "clicks."
9. I would rather first (a) try things out. (b) think about how I'm going to do it. 10. When I am reading for enjoyment, I like writers to (a) clearly say what they mean. (b) say things in creative, interesting ways. 11. When I see a diagram or sketch in class, I am most l likely to remember (a) the picture. (b) what the instructor said about it. 12. When considering a body of information, I am more likely to (a) focus on details and miss the big picture. (b) try to understand the big picture before getting into the details.
13. In a study group working on difficult material, I am more likely to (a) jump in and contribute ideas. (b) sit back and listen. 14. I am more likely to be considered (a) careful about the details of my work. (b) creative about how to do my work. 15. For entertainment, I would rather (a) watch television. (b) read a book. 16. Some teachers start their lectures with an outline of what they will cover. Such outlines are (a) somewhat helpful to me. (b) very helpful to me.
For Question 2, 6, 10 and 14 – subtract # b answers from # a answers. This number will range from 4 to -4. If you are between 4 and 0, tend toward being a sensing learner, if you are between 0 and -4 you tend toward being an intuitive learner. For Question 1, 5, 9 and 13 – subtract # b answers from # a answers. This number will range from 4 to -4. If you are between 4 and 0, tend toward being an active learner, if you are between 0 and -4 you tend toward being a reflective learner. For Question 3, 7,11 and 15 – subtract # b answers from # a answers. This number will range from 4 to -4. If you are between 4 and 0, tend toward being a visual learner, if you are between 0 and -4 you tend toward being a verbal learner. For Question 4, 8, 12 and 16 – subtract # b answers from # a answers. This number will range from 4 to -4. If you are between 4 and 0, tend toward being a sequential learner, if you are between 0 and -4 you tend toward being a global learner.
13. In a study group working on difficult material, I am more likely to (a) jump in and contribute ideas. (b) sit back and listen. 14. I am more likely to be considered (a) careful about the details of my work. (b) creative about how to do my work. 15. For entertainment, I would rather (a) watch television. (b) read a book. Situation, experience and maturity change learning styles. They are not immutable. Age ? Type of task? Mood, Fatigue level?
Are learning styles valid and useful? Researchers must prove that students actually learn more effectively when their learning style is accommodated than when it isn’t – some argument as to whether this has been proven. Some critics feel that the usefulness or validity of learning style models and instruments has not been definitively established. Critics say that learning style theories label or pigeonhole students into a few categories rather than recognizing that learning style evolves as one learns and grows and varies by discipline.
General conclusions regarding learning styles Students will learn better when using preferences in which they are successful. Students will be better learners when they expand their preferences. When teaching accommodates various preferences, more students will be successful. Teachers can construct activities that include specific (or multiple) learning preferences by adding alternatives or, completing learning cycles that incorporate all styles, or by utilizing holistic, complex tasks. Bottom line – when communicating attempt to accommodate all styles as much as possible.
Although we may have a preferred learning style, is it “good” for us to always use it? A primary goal of education should be to help students develop skills that fall into each learning style category, regardless of the student’s personal preferences, since they will need all those skills to function in the professional world.
“Learning is physical”, “(Teachers) create conditions that lead to changes in a learner’s brain” So what about the biology of this? Zull, 2002
Neuronal Networks Zull, J. E. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Stirling, VA: Stylus Publishing. Neuron = axon + dendrites + cell body Synapses = connections between axons and dendrites 100 billion neurons in the brain 10,000 connections/neuron Thousand trillion connections in the brain One neuron connecting to three other neurons Potential sites for synapse formation on a single dendrite
Neuronal Networks After the initial pruning of synapses in the toddler brain, knowledge is physically produced in the brain through the formation and changes in neuronal network connections – synapse formation. Genes control the development of the organ and the basic chemistry within it, but sensory input (experience) changes the neuronal inputs – plasticity. Synapses strengthen through repeated use. We need to build on existing networks; prior knowledge that is related to life experiences. Tapping into what is already known by a learner is the single most important factor in influencing learning.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning - Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Cerebral Cortex Zull, J. E. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Stirling, VA: Stylus Publishing. (from the individual sense organs) (sensory input becomes meaningful images and language - comprehension) (connecting thoughts and internal processing of plans – problem solving) (physical execution of plans and ideas)
Kolb’s Learning Cycle Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning - Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Sensory cortex – receives direct input from outside world Back temporal integrative cortex – memory, daydreaming, developing insights, mind’s eye Front integrative cortex – new mental arrangements, decision, developing plans Motor cortex – ideas to physical movements, writing, talking, drawing, etc Transformation
Learning a new word Hear or read the word Remember related words Generate meaning for the word Speak or write a definition Transformation “Flabmonk”
How does this relate to learning styles? People with different learning styles may be more comfortable with certain parts of this cycle. People with different learning styles may start at different parts of the cycle. Teachers and designers need to design materials and support learning in a way that helps learners complete the learning cycle.
How can understanding learning styles and the brain influence our teaching/communications? Teach and communicate through real life examples, metaphors, and analogies - as much as possible work with existing neuronal networks. Try and accommodate learning preferences since people will comprehend better if their preference is accommodated. By adding alternative ways of interacting with materials more people will be successful. Build on incomplete neuronal networks (misconceptions) - we can only change them, not erase them. Repetition is important – strengthen synapses through repeated firing.
How can understanding learning styles and the brain influence our teaching/communications? Enrich the sensory input – this helps stimulate the neurons and synapse formation, uses sensory cortex Give time for learning/comprehension – reflection and transformation take time – integrative cortexes are large, complex and slower. Encourage both active and reflective involvement in material - write notes, solve problems on paper, discuss with a friend/group, draw a concept map (use the motor cortex) and – watch, listen (use the sensory cortex) Help learners/ users find a balance between back and front brain functions to promote transformation (deep learning) from comprehension to manipulation of ideas.
Incorporate alternatives and options for interacting with information in a document or object. Think about the learning cycle and find ways to communicate and teach so that all parts of the brain are used and there is “balance” between front brain and back brain activities. Create visual richness with audio and text back-up. Provide time for reflection and opportunities for action. Provide a hierarchy of information which can be readily accessed by global and sequential learners. Provide opportunities for social interactions. When using technology ….