Rethinking the Value of Learning Styles in the Classroom
Recent research has revealed that, despite each person having unique thinking patterns, our brains are much more similar than we originally believed. Still, the concept of distinct learning styles persists: many educators subscribe to the idea that each student has a distinct learning style that should be approached in an equally distinct way.
An alternative to learning-style-based teaching
Scientists are still debating the existence of learning styles, but combining both audio and visual learning tools in the classroom has proven to increase student engagement because it adds variety to the learning environment. Using a variety of technological teaching and learning tools like videos, message boards and learning games can keep students engaged and offer them a way to have fun with their lessons.
In addition to variety, interaction is also an important learning tool because it allows students to look at the concepts they are learning from multiple angles. For example: a student may think he understands the Pythagorean Theorem, but another student may approach it with a question that he had not thought of before. By bringing distinct minds together and allowing them to work through a problem together from different approaches, learning can become more engaging and effective.
The role of technology in teaching and learning
Technology has made it much easier for students and teachers to reach goals, regardless of location or distance. Many online degree programs are able to keep students engaged while allowing them to interact with one another through digital platforms. In many cases, students can choose from several teaching mediums, such as images, graphs, audio recordings, and interactive reading materials. By stimulating the mind through each of these approaches, students are more likely to comprehend and retain the information more effectively than they would if they were sitting in a full lecture hall with little or no interaction with the material, the instructor, or their classmates.
Although learning tools like these can be used to engage students enrolled in online learning programs, they can also be used effectively in physical settings. Large lecture halls and classrooms can benefit dramatically from the use of digital learning tools, which can allow students to submit questions to the instructor and their classmates, while also using hands-on software to put their knowledge to the test.
For example: a group of 300 students is taking a statistics class with one instructor. It would be impossible for an instructor to accommodate the learning preferences of each individual student without the help of digital tools. However, with interactive graphing tools on their laptops, access to lecture notes, and a comprehensive messaging system that enhances communication with their peers and the instructor, students can effectively engage themselves in the lessons get a firm mental grasp on the new information.
Students may have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to academics, and some students may have to work harder at learning a mathematical concept than a language concept—or vice-versa. However, these strengths do not necessarily indicate that a student with exceptional skills in language would benefit best from strictly reviewing word math problems without a focus on numerical or graphic alternatives. Instead, learning should be achieved by utilizing a variety of different teaching methods to slowly piece the concept together in the brain.
About the Author
Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for www.professionalintern.com.
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