Everybody is unique. God created us to be unique individuals that have specific personalities, abilities, and traits. Not a one of us is alike. This is also true when it comes to learning.
Since the early 1900’s, educational researchers have been investigating types of learning styles. Today, we talk about ‘multiple intelligences’, ‘taxonomies’, ‘personality types’, ‘perceptual styles’, and ‘learning cycles.’ We have many ways to peel back the layers of the onion and determine what types of learning works best for each of us. If you want to start identifying your learning style, here are a couple of free links that might be helpful.
Using these tools can help us identify our style(s). This information helps us learn about ourselves but soon the question becomes … how does this affect my teaching? And … how do I effectively meet the learning style needs of the of the students in my classroom? And what does this look like online? These are the questions that we have been wrestling with in my doctoral class this week. Here is another link from my class that might help you determine your own teaching style (http://longleaf.net/teachingstyle.html).
I found an interesting article from The Institute for Learning Styles Research (http://learningstyles.org). The author addresses cognitive learning styles and their relationship with distance education. In his research, the author examined a variety of student achievement studies of face-to-face classrooms and online classrooms. The most significant finding for me was that fact that online students need to be engaged as much as possible and encouraged to work with others in the class. It is easy for the online learner to procrastinate and feel disconnected from others. So … it is the responsibility of the online instructor to provide a variety of activities that meet the learning style(s) of their students but also find ways to build community between the students. Group work should be included for all learners but this is especially important to encourage those students who have a natural tendency to work alone. And … the online instructor needs to be actively involved in the facilitation of this process. An effective online class needs an effective teacher. The students cannot do it alone.
How have you addressed the learning styles of your students? What differences has this made in the achievement of your students? Feel free to share …