Summary and Takeaway
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"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 seeing 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 studied since the beginning of the 20th century. The most current research focuses on the VAK model, or visual-auditory-kinesthetic, and how each student processes information best using a preferred style, or a combination of the three. Students are capable of learning using any of the three, but to have them properly engage and better understand what we teach, we must 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 show 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 that 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 of 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 the 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.
Unit 4, Kinesthetic:
Kinesthetic, or tactile, learners make up the smallest percentage of our students but often have the largest impact on a teacher's ability to progress through a lesson (as well as their peers). These are the students who cannot sit still or stay seated and often distract themselves and others more than they participate in your lesson. They are not wired to be successful in the traditional classroom because they learn, connect, and engage by doing rather than seeing or hearing. Finding ways to be flexible with tactile learners in regards to classroom policies is key to helping them engage and learn. With that all being said, tactile learners encompass the traits of the modern-day classroom and curriculum in countries with highly successful education systems. This is because they are great at discovering and forging connections with content that involves stations, labs, and hands-on interactive content and technologies. Give them enough rope to do what they need to do, and they will be the most engaged students in your classroom.
“No one person uses one style of learning exclusively, but they do have preferred learning styles. It is therefore important to attempt to cater for all learning styles during lessons to enable the most efficient learning to take place" (Southwesterncc.edu).
You were tasked at the beginning of this mini-course to achieve the following three goals:
|Identify the three learning modalities||Yes||No|
|Evaluate which modality(ies) best suit the needs of your students||Yes||No|
|Able to incorporate modality strategies into lesson design and content||Yes||No|
Hopefully you were able to confidently answer yes to all three of our course goals.
- Developing effective teacher beliefs about learners: the role of sensitizing teachers to individual learning differences
- Approaches to Biology Teaching and Learning: Learning Styles and the Problem of Instructional Selection—Engaging All Students in Science Courses
I want to give a heartfelt thank you for participating in this mini-course, but more than that, for taking time out of your busy and hectic day to continue to be the life-long learners that all educators are. The care and devotion you are showing to better your teaching practices is a testament to the profession and shows the lengths that you will go to to help your students become the leaders and beacons of tomorrow.
- Michael VanDoren
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