Over the next 4 weeks I will be talking about a certain topic relating to the psychological principles that can be applied education. The topic that I have chosen to write about is different learning styles and techniques, this week I’ll start off broad and expand on this over the following weeks. I have chosen this topic because after just receiving my results from semester 1 and comparing to my year 2 scores, I found SUCH a variety of results. It got me questioning – how can I be so much more successful in some of the subjects compared to others? I thought perhaps it was due to the style of learning; the way the lectures were taught, the way I revised, the method of assessment etc. So I’m going to explore some of the explanations! Not just in terms of university but throughout schools and colleges too.
Research suggests that the type of activities and the teaching styles used in classrooms are important, and the wrong type of teaching method can really affect the way a student learns (Wentzel, 2002).
One type of learning method that is considered successful is getting the students actively involved in lessons (Jang, 2008). Research to support this idea comes from Boaler (2002), she found that when students engaged in a lesson and shared their ideas with their classmates, they had more of a positive attitude than the students who didn’t get actively involved! Samuelsson (2008) also found similar results – children who were involved in practical class work where they had to engage with others performed better than children who were either just lectured by a teacher or were asked to work directly out of a textbook. Jang (2008) suggests active involvement in the classroom is effective because they are engaging with the subject, therefore the learning is considered to have more of a personal importance and relevance to the student.
Another thing to consider in terms of learning styles is the way the things are taught to the student. Atkins (1998) suggests that teachers can encourage students to be more enthusiastic with their learning by presenting the information with a performance based approach. So, Atkins (1998) thinks that by using a teaching style which includes anecdotes, humour and impromptu class discussions will keep the learner interested as it is entertaining!! Short and Martin (2011) support this as they found that students not only preferred lectures that used this performance based approach, but they also retained and understood more information from those lectures. This method can unfortunately sometimes be inappropriate as it can be time consuming, but aspects of it can still be used – such as the use of images and what not.
If we are talking about keeping students interested then we can’t forget the use of technology as a learning style (I won’t talk about this too much as I have already wrote a whole blog about it – check it out if you haven’t already). But research suggests that technology can have a positive impact on the way students learn due to its entertainment factor (Eckel, Rojas & Ball, 2006). And I agree with this as I do think modules like this one where we use technology a lot really influences the way we work, in fact I think I may expand on this one day and possibly write a whole post about blogging as a learning style.
So to conclude, I think the way we learn is really important as different types of learning styles are more successful than others. So why is this? Well Atkins (1998) suggests different learning styles could be more effective due to how interesting they are. This could be related to the entertainment factor of technology (Eckel, Rojas & Ball, 2006). Also, Jang (2008) suggests that being more actively involved is an important factor for learning styles.
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Samuelsson, J. (2008). The impact of different teaching methods on students’ arithmetic and self‐regulated learning skills. Educational Psychology in Practice: theory, research and practice in educational psychology, 24:3, 237-250
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