Summary and Takeaway
Back to Michael's Mini-Course
"Learners consume content, manipulate and interpret it to understand it, commit it to memory, recognize patterns and trends in it, apply it, analyze and evaluate it, create with it, use it to solve problems, reflect on it, draw conclusions from it and form opinions about it, summarize it, practice its procedures and skills, and apply it to complete assignments or work tasks" (Larson and Lockee, pg.231).
Our students do all of these things with the content we use, create, and implement; but how do they do it best? Do they process information better by visualizing it? By hearing it? By Interacting with it? Who uses which modality and to what extent? How can we use this information to engage our students in a way that better helps them learn, discover, and create? These are the questions we set out to discover in this mini-course and, hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to create or update your content to correspond to your student's skill-sets, or have some more "tools in your belt" as you go about doing it.
Unit 1, Definition and Theory: We learned that learning modalities are not a recent discovery, that they have been recognized and studies since the beginning of the 20th century. The most current research focuses on the VAK model, or visual-auditory-kinesthetic, and how each student process information best using a preferred mode, or a combination of the three. Students are capable of learning using any of the three, but to have them really engage and better understand what we teach, it is important that we tailor our content to their needs. Creating content and lessons with the multi-modality mindset is always a solid approach to lesson design and a best practice. A link was provided which can help you and your students create their modality profile, which can help you better understand their needs, and your students how they learn best.
Unit 2, Visual We discovered the major role that visual learning plays in the educational environment and how a majority of our students fall into the visual modality category. Visual learning encompasses the daily life of our students, from the second they step into the classroom and throughout the course of a lesson. Visual learners are typically your higher-academic students because of the strengths that go with this style, such as listening, organizational, and reading skills. Their weakness include less-developed listening and verbal skills, as well as a tendency to get easily distracted by things they see. Creating or updating content with visual learners in mind is perhaps the easiest modification to make by adding more (relevant) visuals, scaling back the amount of time used for teacher-centered discussion/activities, and encouraging/developing the excellent study and reading skills that visual learners are already geared towards.
Unit 3, Auditory Auditory learners make up the second largest percentage of our students and embody the traditional teaching methods that have been prevalent in our education system for decades. That being said, auditory learners often make up the lower-academic end our student-body. The reason for this is because auditory learners, those who process information better when it is said and practiced aloud, typically have lower reading abilities than their peers. Many are placed in special education programs/curriculum because of this and need more help in the modern-day classroom; this groups also includes English language learners. They are our talkers, the ones who do best describing and articulating themselves and the topics being taught. They follow directions but can get lost or struggle with written information and expression. The strategies for helping these students are more time-consuming, but help the class as a whole. These include audio supports for notes, lectures, and textbooks, as well as a shift towards student-centered discussion of topics and ideas.