The training for college instructors differs from other teaching professions. College educators often come to the classroom as expert professionals. They come with a wealth of knowledge from the field and little understanding of pedagogy. This is a primer for those college instructors, simply a starting point.
Mia, I love your thinking…and your work! However, I have been wanting to ask you this question– What is your source for ‘learning styles’ and ‘how people learn’ ? According to many educational psychologists, there is a difference between learning styles and learning preferences. As Anita Woolfolk quotes in her textbook, “Most researches are skeptical abou the value of learning preferences (p. 129).” As a matter of fact, I can’t quote the source right now, but I recall learning a while ago that in some instances we may actually learn MORE when we are presented with information that is outside our ‘preferred mode’ as we have to attend more in order to learn. Woolfolk further cites the research of Kratzig & Arbuthnott (2006), “When the researchers examined how people identified their own learning styles, they concluded that people’s judgements represented preferences rather than superior skills in ising auditory, visual, or kinesthetic modalities.” Woolfolk does note that the one learning ‘style’ distinction that does have research support is that of visualizer-verbalizer (see Mayer & Massa, 2003). Mayer notes that even this cognitive style distinction is rather complex. We use the Woolfolk text in our teacher ed program–Here’s the citation: Woolfolk, A. (2013). Educational psychology, 12th ed. Pearson Learning.
Other thoughts, questions???
Thanks! I absolutely agree with you. Our understanding of the brain and learning is changing every day. I remember learning things as a student that we no longer hold as fact (such as the term “short term memory” v. “working memory”- Jonides, Schumacher, Smith, Koeppe, Awh & Reuter-Lorenz, 1998; Treisman, 2006).
Let me try to go point by point and see if I can share my perspective:
What is your source for ‘learning styles’ and ‘how people learn’? According to many educational psychologists, there is a difference between learning styles and learning preferences. As Anita Woolfolk quotes in her textbook, “Most researches are skeptical about the value of learning preferences (p. 129).”
I think there is a difference between what we currently understand and recognize about learning styles and learning preferences and what we previously thought. But, I don’t think there is enough research to throw it out yet. The more research we conduct the more we are challenging commonly held ideas and this is good. I did merge the two for simplicity reasons. Mostly, because I do think that there is credibility behind both styles and preferences. I think most people have a natural “style” but is this because it is a preference that was “taught into them” or a cognitive ability that was “born into them,” I don’t know. I think it’s important for new faculty to recognize that they need to teach to styles and preferences different from their own. Often new faculty come to education and teach how they were taught, leaving little learning to occur. This is why it was included in the infographic. I think the criticism is valid, but has it debunked these concepts? I am not convinced yet. I don’t think that we should throw them out just yet. However, I don’t think we base our entire curriculum on them either. It is more of an awareness that people do learn differently. Does that get close to answering that one?
we may actually learn MORE when we are presented with information that is outside our ‘preferred mode’ as we have to attend more in order to learn.
Agreed! When I expose my classes to different preferred modes of learning, they grumble. But, later they are thankful that they were pushed out of their comfort zone to experience new “styles” of learning. I think presenting and working through learning in different ways aids in memory and retention above actually being able to walk around with the style label blazing across their forehead. I have noticed that when we use visuals or music or other things, students can chunk and later recall the material better. I will ask, what did we do week 2? And they ask, is that the week we made the human rights videos? And I said, yes. Then, they recall better everything about that week (from content to how they were feeling, what they heard…) We then add different styles and they learn equally as well. Not because the information was presented in their preferred style, but because it was delivered in a easily digestible and recallable (is that a word?) manner. So, what role does the style or preference actually play? Possibly less to do with how we should deliver and more with that we should deliver more styles. Does that make sense? (Huggett,Hoos, & Rensink, 2007; Marzano, 2009; Miller 2011; Snowman, 2009; Kalyuga, Renkl, & Paas, 2010, p.176; Mayer, 2002; Hamilton, 2009; Pelizzon, Brandimonte, & Luccio, 2002; Bruner, 1971, p. 72)- mostly memory references, let me know if you want the full citations.
“When the researchers examined how people identified their own learning styles, they concluded that people’s judgements represented preferences rather than superior skills in ising auditory, visual, or kinesthetic modalities.”
I think we can only prefer what we know. So If I was only taught a certain way all my life, I will “prefer” that way now… until I am exposed to another preference. At that point we may be able to accurately determine if a style is a style because we learn better that way and do away with the previously known preferences. However, I do believe that both nurture and nature are playing a role. This is where the problem lies. New faculty come with their preference and only teach that. I think we as the instructor need to be exposed as well. The learning styles link exposes them to other ideas of how people might learn differently.
Other thoughts, questions???
The basic premise of this infographic is that faculty today is different than faculty of the past. More and more colleges are using adjuncts from the field. It is claimed that we want experts teaching. But, many have trouble being teachers. This infographic kind of exposes them to pedagogy. The most academic infographic would have both sides of this topic, as well. However, it is only so big and can have so much information. I don’t think styles or preferences are without foundation. I just think that we are now being more critical about how important of a role we think they should play, as you have perfectly pointed out. I do think it should be recognized at least to expose that there are different ways students learn and we can’t go into a classroom and go to our default preference.
Wow! That was so long…. and there is so much more to say!
I will leave the rest to ed pych professionals. And, I will have a conversation Monday with my ed psych buddies on their opinions.
Thanks for adding to the conversation!
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I appreciate your thoughtful response. There IS a lot to think about!! I’d love to hear what your colleagues say!
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