Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#70Days The Myth of Learning Styles and #EduRead

#EduRead returns tomorrow evening!  YEA!

The topic of discussion is this article on The Myth of Learning Styles.  It was only in the last year that I began seeing online that the idea of learning styles had been debunked.

Obviously students have preferences - some like physical activity more than they like to read.  And so if you organize an learning activity that involved movement, they get excited.  The readers on the other hand may not find the physical activity particularly engaging.  Students have preferences for the type of activity they engage in.  This past year I had a few students who loved to draw and color.  They loved any activity in which they could doodle.  Other students asked - can we just answer the question without drawing???

Knowing our students well is key.  We need to know if they have the background knowledge or vocabulary to support learning new concepts.  Do they have the prerequisite skills?  What are students' interests and how can I relate the content to their interests?  All of these are valuable to designing learning activities that will engage students.

We also know that the brain likes it when we use all of our senses.  Any time you can use movement, music, and pictures with text the information is more likely to find connections in our brains - hooks on which to connect and grow.  Our brains like novelty and variety - so when we change up routines, move away from the standard textbook/workbook exercises, students are likely to be more engaged and learn more readily.

The authors of this article asked this question ... "Instead of asking whether we engaged the right sense (or learning mode), we should be asking, what did the students think about while they were in class?"  I assert that if students are actively conversing about math then you will know what they were thinking about.  If they are passive and quiet - you won't have a clue.

Last, the authors said, "We seek only to emphasize that attention to learning styles, for which evidence has not been found, may lead educators to neglect research on learning for which there is solid scientific support."

There are a number of lists of research-based instructional strategies - Marzano published 22 in this article and Rosenshine outlines 17 in his article.

What strategies do you use most often?  Why those particular strategies?