Picture of Lori Amsellem
Learning Styles
by Lori Amsellem - Monday, June 24, 2013, 11:53 AM
 

What is your learning style? A learning style is defined as the characteristics, strengths and preferences in the way people receive and process information (Felder & Silverman 1988). If you are interested in identifying your learning style in a simplistic way or just want to confirm what you already know, take this short 20 question assessment and see. Learning Style Assessment Tool There are quite a few of these tools out there for assessing learning styles, and I tried most of them just to find out if the outcome for each was the same which it basically was. Some of them categorized learning styles in a different way and some gave a more in depth result. I chose this assessment tool because it was short; the results were straightforward and some helpful learning strategies were listed at the end. The bottom line is that we all learn differently and our learning style is more of a mixture of different styles where one is usually preferred above the others. In our latest reading by Stephen Brookfield, Facilitating Critical Thinking: from Developing Critical Thinkers, he asserts that “When we are aware of our typical learning styles, we can select from a number of strategies those that we know will be most effective.” In knowing this information, the student can better help themselves learn. The teacher, in turn, can utilize that knowledge when planning instruction in the hopes of successfully engaging them in the learning process.

 Discussion Questions:

No need to answer all the questions, although you might want to at some time. For this discussion, pick one.

  • How do you think the manner in which you learn affects the way in which you teach?
  • What other types of assessments would you use to determine students’ learning styles?
  • In what way can a student’s learning style affect their ability to learn from different Web 2.0 applications?

 

Reference

Felder, R. & Silverman, L. (1988). Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education. Engineering Education, 78 (7), 674-681.

 
Picture of Daniel Kovach
Re: Learning Styles
by Daniel Kovach - Monday, June 24, 2013, 4:12 PM
 

Very interesting and engaging Lori. As a blended learner with a slight auditory bias, I tend to teach in a manner that tries to give each style of learner something to connect with. My curriculum incorporates units that have a lecture component rich with images, diagrams, and short video segments, (e.g. McCumber cube or Parkerian Hexad). I tend to draw diagrams in the same place on the white board every time, you’ll see students stare at the white board during exams, visualizing my diagrams on the blank surface. Student evaluations have often referred to my lectures as engaging and at times entertaining, as I try to hold the groups attention through stories, interactive Q&As and impromptu game show-style quizzes. Each unit contains a lab that allows the students some latitude with selecting the topic from a broader area and how they will demonstrate their findings.

As far as assessing learning styles, I use a blended approach to my materials and methods hoping to connect with various styles. I encourage every student to make an appointment with me during office hours to get to know each other better, where one of my standard questions is, “How would you characterize your learning style.”

I would like to think there is something for everyone in Web 2.0 content, but in my humble opinion there are so many web and local applications that just seem to be another flavor of existing technology that I don’t get too fired up about any of it. I tend to stick with D2L for my main web resource, loading relevant content there, opening communication through discussion and question boards, utilizing drop box for a paperless environment and online grading for everyone’s convenience. I would contend that no other area of education has benefited from technology as much as distance (online) learning.

Dan /Washburn

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Learning Styles
by Lori Amsellem - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:10 AM
 

Hi Dan,

It seems like a lot of great diversified activities are happening in your class! I especially like the visualization technique that you use when making a point of drawing diagrams in the same spot each time. It is interesting to note that teachers tend to teach the way they learn best. (Barbe & Milone,Jr. 1981). However, even though your tendency is toward the auditory, you are still able to incorporate other learning styles into your teaching with those activities. That is super. I also change it up to make sure to engage all of the students. Plus, I do not like to be bored and if I feel bored I can only imagine how the students are feelings! I would be curious to see if new teachers teach the way they learn because it comes easy and is comfortable to them; while the more experienced teachers, like you, are able to rise above that? What do you think?

Discussions with the students at any time are a great way to get to know them and to help them to understand themselves as learners. Based on their success with the different activities you have assigned them, might be another way to see what works and does not work for them.

I see your point about there are so many web and local applications that just seem to be another flavor of existing technology. It was not until we were asked to investigate Web 2.0 applications that I realized how many of the applications are similar to each other. I tried to organize them into categories to make it easier to compare. However, being more of a visual learner, I tended to gravitate to the more visually appealing and functioning applications and bookmarked the ones that tended to be more visual in nature. In looking at the Web 2.0 applications you bookmarked, do you feel they seem to follow your learning style?

Lori

 

Reference

Barbe, Walter B., and Michael N. Milone, Jr. "What We Know about Modality Strengths." Educational Leadership (1981): 378-80. Print.

Picture of Naomi Orlovsky
Cool Tools for Schools
by Naomi Orlovsky - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:03 PM
 

Cool Tools For Schools is a visually organized Web 2.0 tool wiki.  It is one of my favorite "go to" sources for Web 2.0 tools, because it is so nicely organized and visual.

I have found quite a few tools that have expired or are no longer working options on this site though.  I also found a really cool tool that allowed students to create stories with multiple users throughout the world.  Although that is an exciting writing possibility, it brought to light the questions of privacy and safety, especially with regards to sexual predators.  This same tool also listed one of the writing genres as, Erotic, so it definitely reinforces the fact that we need to know the tools we are going to use, before we use them.  The nature of a wiki is that anyone can add to it and I do not know who is monitoring this wiki.

So  . . . even as I appreciate the visual organization of this web 2.0 tool wiki, I wouldn't place it in the hands of my parents or students.  At this time, I just use it to select possible tools to use.

Naomi O. @ Wisconsin

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Go2Web20
by Lori Amsellem - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 8:40 AM
 

Hi Naomi,

Thanks. Some good stuff and I see what you mean about being careful.

I don't know if you have looked at this website before: Go2Web20, but I like it because it is also visually appealing, their lists use the applications' logos making it easier to identify and you can search for the type of application you want which is nice.

Lori

Picture of Naomi Orlovsky
NNTO: Thanks for the share!
by Naomi Orlovsky - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:11 AM
 

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Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Learning Styles
by Kristen Pham - Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:41 PM
 

Hi, Lori,

I really liked all of your questions!  Here's the one I chose to focus on:

  • How do you think the manner in which you learn affects the way in which you teach?

I am definitely a lingustic learner more so than anything else, so I tend to give very detailed and verbose directions or descriptions of assignments.  For some of my lower readers, I can see how this might "turn them off" to an assignment or frustrate them.  I'm always trying to be more concise and also trying to make my assignment sheets more visually appealing with borders or graphics.  It's not something I do when I first design a handout, so it is definitely something I have to go back and edit.  

Last year for my Junior English students, I had all of my students take a multiple intelligence quiz at the beginning of the first quarter, and then as the summative assessment for our first unit, I had them choose two ways to define what it means to be an American.  I've attached the choice board lesson.  I was shocked at how much variety I had with the assignments students turned in.  Some chose to make a video while others made a collage, and a high number of students turned in written assignments (although they had the choice to do something more creative).  I had fewer complaints and more students actually enjoy creating their projects.  It was a hit!

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Daniel Kovach
Re: Learning Styles
by Daniel Kovach - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 7:32 AM
 

Kristen,

I like your comment, “I tend to give very detailed and verbose directions or descriptions of assignments.”  It had been my experience that when I offer a project or assignment that is too open ended, students (college students) seemingly feel trapped by the ambiguity and freedom they’re given.  This is evident by getting more questions and seeking my help in gauging what I’m looking for.  Some, seemingly few, liked the freedom of such open ended projects, so I reverted back to detailed descriptions and rubrics and in some cases, even word or page count guidelines to relieve them of the burden of determining adequate length.  I think differentiation is important to instruction, but do you think our understanding of the varying styles of learning is slouching toward seemingly unrealistic expectation for everyone getting everything?  Does strenuously seeking instructional equality across learning styles have a downside?

Dan in Washburn       

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Learning Styles
by Kristen Pham - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:19 PM
 

Hi, Dan,

I've also found that my students like to have an idea of what I consider full credit or "A" work.  Honestly, being more prescriptive up front makes the grading easier, and I have less students challenging or complaining about grades.  I think it does stifle creativity a bit, though.  I usually put a word guideline -- If you don't have at least 800 words in your paper, that is a red flag to you that you're missing something or you need more elaboration!  Let's say two students turn in a reflection and one is four sentences and one is four pages.  How can the one that is four sentences earn the same credit?  It probably doesn't have the same depth of thinking.  I just want the student to know that ahead of time.  Likewise, I want the overachiever to be able to manage his/her time more appropriately.  I would have been the student who turned in a 10-page essay when my teach only wanted 4 pages if I wasn't given some sort of guidelines.

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Learning Styles
by Lori Amsellem - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:15 AM
 

Hi Kristen,

As I mentioned to Dan, teachers tend to teach the way they learn best. (Barbe & Milone,Jr. 1981). When a teacher recognizes that they are doing that, it is the first step to making better choices and including other styles when presenting materials. (see full article) I think you accomplished that with your choice board lesson on what it means to be an American. It was a terrific assignment. It provided the opportunity for students to choose how they wanted to accomplish the assignment using their own style of learning. Learning seemed fun because they could do it their way. In thinking about the different projects the students handed in, are you able to see a clear picture of how that student learns and what their tendencies are toward the use of certain learning styles?

Lori

 

Reference

Barbe, Walter B., and Michael N. Milone, Jr. "What We Know about Modality Strengths." Educational Leadership (1981): 378-80. Print.

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Learning Styles
by Kristen Pham - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:21 PM
 

Lori,

I definitely saw a difference.  It was a great way for me to get to know that types of learners in my class.  I included more video/kinesthetic/visual kinds of assessments in that class because of that.  Does anyone else have any good activities that allow you to see the types of learners in your class?

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Picture of Naomi Orlovsky
Re: Learning Styles
by Naomi Orlovsky - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:32 PM
 

Kristen,

Your “What it is to be an American” board looks like a wonderful tool to provide a variety of various assessment options to engage your students and meet the various learning styles in your classroom!  I’m curious how you evaluated the various completed assessments. 

Did you use a very general rubric that could be applied to all of the assessments or did you evaluate based on whether the assignment was completed or not?

Variety is nice, but I know that when I have offered these types of optional assessments, I either need to have a very detailed, yet general rubric or individual rubrics for various types of projects, which makes for a whole lot of front-end and back-end work.  Good for you for putting in the extra effort!

Naomi O. @ Wisconsin

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Learning Styles
by Kristen Pham - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:27 PM
 

Naomi,

I used a general rubric so that I could tailor it based on the activity choices.  For example, one component was "meets all requirements for specific option".  I would go back and circle any parts that weren't completed in the assignment description. I didn't want to create 10 or 12 separate rubrics -- what a nightmare!

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

Family photo
Re: Learning Styles
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 6:59 AM
 

Lori,

I was excited to take the Learning Style Assessment Tool quiz. I have found in my experience that students genuinely like to know about how they learn. I believe the manner in which I learn definitely affects the way I teach. I find that being more of an auditory/visual learner directs my teaching in the way that I introduce lessons by talking about it, then modeling it. I realize that some students have different learning styles and try to accomodate these students as well; but when I think about how it affects my teaching, I find I sway toward auditory/visual style.

As far as assessments used to determine learning styles, I try to give options when assigning assessments that allow the opportunity for students to be successful according to their learning style. The majority of the time, the students will choose the option that best fits their learning style.  Another effective assessment is when students become the "experts" and teach their peers the subject matter. They have a tendency like myself, to also teach according to the way they learn and generally create interesting and captivating lessons.

I am always interested in exploring assessment variety to accomodate our learners; Web 2.0 has some great tools that I have bookmarked in Diigo. Heres a link if anyone has not seen these: http://web2012.discoveryeducation.com/blog/

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Learning Styles
by Lori Amsellem - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 5:55 PM
 

Hi Stacy,

I agree that when given the opportunity, students find it helpful and many times enlightening to know how they learn. For some it provides that “Ah Ha” moment and things click for them. It is nice to see that even though you sway toward the auditory/visual style of teaching; you are quite comfortable presenting other ways to engage the students. At the end of the Learning Style Assessment Tool that you took, some learning strategies were offered. (Link Back to the Learning Strategies)
Did any of those strategies give you additional ideas on what to do to help your students learn better?

Have you noticed if the same students are handing in the same type of projects each time? It might give some insight into their learning style and help you better understand them.

Thanks for the link back. I also bookmarked assessment tools that I felt would be useful for all learning styles. The hard part will be picking which one to use and when!

Lori

Family photo
Re: Learning Styles
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 8:02 PM
 

Lori and Blues,

In reading the Learning Strategies I started thinking about certain students' behaviors during some of my classes-needing to chew gum, tapping a pencil, fidgeting; one actually closed her eyes when I was talking! Yes, I thought she were sleeping at first too, and even before I questioned, she aplogized and said she remembers/ understands the information better if she closes her eyes when the teacher is talking. I would have been skeptical still if this girl wasn't the valedictorian. This lead me to thinking about how many teachers absolutely prohibit and even punish these types of "distractions." They need this link! Yes, this link is a great tool for learning strategies and I will be utilizing it in my classroom.

Also, I do see a pattern of certain students choosing certain assessments such as the skit over the written essay when given the options. This reaffirms that students do need options to work with their learning style.

This got me to thinking about how sometimes it is healthy and a great challenge to get kids "out of their comfort zone." What if we were to ask the students to choose their project that correlates with their learning style, but then, for the next project, that particular option was eliminated? Perhaps the next project could be a collaborative effort with a group of multiple learning styles, but their assessment is out of the group's comfort zone? For example, let's say we have three students with three different intelligences, a musical, logical-mathematical, and spatial inteligence. What if their assessment is of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? Would this be setting them up to fail? Or would this be a beneficial learning experience? What do you think?

Picture of Jennifer Morris
Re: Learning Styles
by Jennifer Morris - Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:30 PM
 

Hi Lori,

While I like all three of your questions and think they're all important to consider, I'm going to focus on the following questions in this post:

How do you think the manner in which you learn affects the way in which you teach?

In an article entitled "Students’ Learning Styles Compared with their Teachers' Learning Styles in Secondary Schools", a Swedish study is referenced that examined 185 teachers' teaching styles in secondary schools compared to their students' learning styles (Bostrom, 2011). They found that although most students were sensory learners and benefitted the most from hands-on methods, most teachers in the study were visual and auditory learners and taught in such a manner. Since the teachers' learning, and therefore teaching, styles did not match that of the children, researchers concluded that a wide variety of diverse teaching strategies is best practice (Bostrom, 2011).

This finding confirms my personal thoughts that teachers cannot solely rely on only on teaching method - whether it matches their personal learning style or not. Since a classroom of students will obviously include a diverse collection of learners, it is important that the teacher becomes familiar with each student so he/she can determine which types of learning methods should be used when. While it is important for a teacher to recognize his/her strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning styles, it's even more important for a teacher to vary his/her teaching methods.

Jenny in Chicago

Resources:

Bostrom, Lena. 2011. “Students’ Learning Styles Compared with their Teachers' Learning Styles in Secondary Schools”.  Institute for Learning Styles Journal (1). 

 

Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: Learning Styles
by Lori Amsellem - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 6:53 AM
 

Hi Jenny,

I apologize for not responding to you sooner. Really sorry about that.

I absolutely agree with you about the importance of teachers varying their teaching methods.  Although for some teachers, I have noticed that it can be a difficult thing for them to do. If they have been teaching in that style for a long time and are using the same lesson plans that they have used for years, they seem to have a tougher time of it. For some they just do not want to change because it is easier not to and for others their training is lacking. In this article, "Changes in the Teaching and Learning Process in a Complex Education System” the authors advocates the strong need to train teachers to adapt instruction to the diverse student abilities, learning styles, personality traits and needs for better teacher effectiveness. However, change can be hard and knowing where to start can sometimes be harder which is why I do believe that training is the key and that it should be ongoing. Hopefully, by offering the teachers training opportunities to learn new methods and new technology while on the job will hopefully make them better able to implement what they learned and engage more students in the learning process.

Lori

 

Reference

Bar-Yam, Miriam, Yaneer Bar-Yam, Jim Kaput, Linda Booth Sweeney, and Kathleen Rhoade. "Changes in the Teaching and Learning Process in a Complex Education System." New England Complex Systems Institute. New England Complex Systems Institute, n.d. Web.

Picture of Kristen Pham
Re: Learning Styles
by Kristen Pham - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:25 PM
 

Jenny,

I envy your ability to do a lot of kinesthetic activities with your lab experiments.  I always struggle with that in my classroom.  Do you find that students with ADHD are more engaged during labs in contrast to general lecture?  Do you really see the difference in learning styles in terms of the kids who excel in notetaking/testing vs. lab experiments?  

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

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