Learning styles: Hands-on Learning

I have been writing about learning styles for the past couple of weeks and mainly been blabbing on about how important I think it is to get students engaged and actively involved with their learning. So it made sense to me to now move onto talking about an active approach to learning in general!

Hands-on learning is a learning style which requires the student to carry out a physical activity and try and get learning by themselves. Rather than just sitting in a hall listening to a lecturer or watching a demonstration, hands-on learning gets the students up and physically involved.

Researchers have found that introducing hands-on techniques into the classroom is good for students (Sivan et al., 2000). Manuel (2002) found that students who had a preference for a kinesthetic learning style (a type of Hands-on method) would show signs of improved academic performances when they were taught in this way. Manuel believes that students performed well because of the positive attitude towards the kinesthetic learning style. Poudel et al., (2005) suggests that students will perform well when involved in hands-on activities because this approach is more interesting than a teacher lecturing them. Due to this enhanced interest, they believe that students will be more motivated to learn and to think in a more critical way.

Some hands-on methods that education practices have introduced are Group projects, working in a group means students have to be active in terms of sharing their ideas, learning from others, enhancing their argumentative skills etc., Springer, Stanna and Donovan (1998) suggest that group projects are particularly effective if working in pairs. They suggest that working in pairs promotes greater student achievement, increases retention in courses, and promotes favourable attitudes toward the course material. Also, Shakarian (1995) suggest that working in pairs is better than big groups because it makes it pretty much impossible for students to avoid participating (check out more I’ve written about social loafing). Jigsaw Group Projects have also been described as an effective active-learning technique (Clarke, 1994), this is where students are bunged into a group and have to explore a particular topic, each member has their own sub-topic which they research, then once they have all worked on their sub-topic they “fix” it all together and discuss. This works well because all the students have to research their own area and then deliver the information to other members, research shows that by explaining information to others will increase one’s own understanding (Peterson & Janicki, 1979).Online journals can be used for an active style of learning, this is an effective tool for motivating students to apply course concepts to their own life experiences and to explore course content in more depth, also by uploading journals online encourages public debate where others can discuss with them (Glogoff, 2005). Faust and Paulson (1998) suggest that role playing also works well for students because this active technique allows them to gain a better understanding of the theories and concepts that are being taught in class. Playing Games is another one (for adults too – not just kids lol) Groves, Warren and Witscher (1996) suggest that playing games can dramatize aspects of reality and information that can’t be transmitted by ordinary methods of delivering knowledge (lectures)! Faust and Paulson (1998) suggests that games such as puzzles are a highly effective way to review material before moving onto the next stage of the assignment.

However, people may criticize some of these techniques!! Faculties argue that these hands-on methods do not cover enough information, but Faust and Paulson (1998) controversially say that students are still learning just as much this way, basically they say that a boring approach may cover more material, but that doesn’t mean students will retain it all! Because students are less likely to retain all the information if they are bored! Also, some may say that not all students want to get actively involved and may have another learning style preference, due to this Felder (1993) suggests that it is probably best to use these hands-on techniques as an additional tool of learning; so using these techniques along with the standard lecture should be an effective method for all students in the class. Another thing Felder mentions is that by combining these methods, that it should hopefully prepare students for the workplace!

To conclude, its considered that many students have a preference towards hands-on learning activities, and it is suggested that this is because it is an interesting learning style! There are many ways to introduce hands-on activities into the classroom, which have been found successful for both children and adults in education. Some of these include; group work, journals, games and role playing – and that’s just to name a few, there are many many many ways to involve hands-on learning into education, but these are some of the ones that stood out to me!! Despite there being some negative issues surrounding this learning style; research shows that there are solutions and also that hands-on activites may be best to be used as an additional tool of learning.




Clarke, J. (1994). Pieces of the puzzle: The jigsaw method. In S. Sharan (Ed.), Handbook of cooperative learning methods (pp. 34-50). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Faust, J. L., & Paulson, D. R. (1998). Active learning in the college classroom.Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 9(2), 3-24.

Glogoff, S. (2005). Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate. Journal of Online Education, 1(5).

Groves, J. M., Warren, C., & Witscher, J. (1996). Reversal of fortune: A simulation game for teaching inequality in the classroom. Teaching Sociology, 24, 364-371.

Manuel, K. (2002), Teaching Information Literacy to Generation Y, Hawthorn Press, New York, NY, .

Paulson, D. R. (1999). Active learning and cooperative learning in the organic chemistry lecture class. The Journal of Chemical Education, 76, 1136-1140.

Poudel, D. D., Vincent, L. M., Anzalone, C., Huner, J., Wollard, D., Clement, T., … & Blakewood, G. (2005). Hands-on activities and challenge tests in agricultural and environmental education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 36(4), 10-22.

Shakarian, D. C. (1995). Beyond lecture: Active-learning strategies that
work. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 66, 21-24.

Sivan, A., Leung, R. W., Woon, C. C., & Kember, D. (2000). An implementation of active learning and its effect on the quality of student learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 37(4), 381-389.

Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., &. Donovan, S. S. (1998). Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Madison, WI: National Institute for Science Education.


Learning Styles: Field Trips

I’ve been discussing different learning styles, and mainly been focusing on the importance of active involvement and entertainment. One of the most engaging and entertaining methods of learning that I can think of is SCHOOL TRIPS!! (or as most of the research I have found is American –“ field” trips). This week, I’m going to talk about the impact of field trips in education, to see if they are beneficial and why.

Research suggests that field trips are beneficial for learning. One example is, Javlekar (1989) who found that a student’s knowledge on a certain subject will increase if they have been on a field trip, he found this by comparing students who had visited a scientific exhibit compared to students who hadn’t. When quizzed, the students who had visited out-performed the students who hadn’t. There are many reasons as to why researchers think field trips are so effective:

Hofstien and Rosenfeld (1996) believe one of the reasons field trips are an effective learning method is due to the informal learning experience. The informal learning encourages active-learning by allowing the students to interact physically and manipulate objects. Feher (1990) supports this as he believes field trips are successful due to the informality; students can move around the environment and experiment with objects at their own pace.

Furthermore, Lai (1999) suggests that it is the novelty of field trips that makes them so effective. Lai (1999) found that students perceive their usual classroom learning as boring, so they valued the field trips due to its rarity and the freedom they could have during the trip. Students would look at the learning experience form a new perspective; they developed a desire to break away from their teachers in order to give themselves a control over their own learning. Unfortunately they found that the desire to partake in proactive learning stopped once the children returned to the classroom.

Some researchers suggest that field trips can actually be a negative towards learning. Falk, Martin and Balling (1978) suggest that the novelty of the field situation can be a bad thing for learning as the children associate days out as fun social activities rather than a learning experience. Therefore, it is assumed that the students will direct all their attention towards the environment and the fun, distracting them from the actual learning activity. Another negative thing about field trips is that some children can become stressed due to the unfamiliar environment (Kagan and Fasan, 1988). It is suggested that because field trips can be stressful and cause anxiety for some children, they are not going to be able to focus on the learning activites and thus, not learn. Nevertheless, Hofstein and Rosenfeld (1996) believe that these issues can be resolved if the students are prepared for the trip beforehand. Meaning that, the children associating the day out as a social adventurous event will be prepared to learn and the children who become anxious will have more of an idea of what to expect from the trip.

One of my own ideas… As the majority of school trips (well, that I have been on anyway) usually take place outside, I thought maybe it is just the general outdoors that makes it so effective?? Eaton (2000) found that learning outdoors is effective for developing cognitive skills. Reasons for this could be due to the attention restoration theory (Kaplan, 1995). Suggesting that when we are surrounded by nature our minds unwind as we don’t have to constantly keep our attention focused on busy (and potentially dangerous) objects that we would usually find in manmade places (e.g vehicles, sirens, music, fire alarms etc.). So without these distractions, the students on field trips can focus their attention directly on the learning activity rather than diverting their attention to distractions in schools that they may find. Berman (2008) supports this as he found that nature enhances cognitive functioning.

To conclude, field trips are an effective learning style due to the promotion of proactive learning, which can be caused by the informal learning experience or due to the novelty of the trip. However, the novelty factor isn’t always a good thing as it can be overwhelming for some children. Despite there being some negative things related to field trips, there are ways to solve these problems. I personally think that school trips are beneficial and should be encouraged in schools, further research could look into ways to transfer the knowledge and attitudes gained on field trips into the classroom.

So sorry about writing so much, theres so much more I could write on this topic so I look forward to reading and replying to any comments you may have 🙂

school trip

Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological science, 19(12), 1207-1212.

Falk, J. H., Martin, W. W., & Balling, J. D. (2006). The novel field‐trip phenomenon: Adjustment to novel settings interferes with task learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 15(2), 127-134.

Hofstein, A., & Rosenfeld, S. (1996). Bridging the gap between formal and informal science learning.
Javlekar, V. (1989). Learning scientific concepts in science centers. In Bitgood, S Proceedings of the 1989 Visitor Studies Conference (Vol. 2).
Kagan, D. M., & Fasan, V. (1988). Stress and the instructional environment.College Teaching, 36(2), 75-81.

Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of environmental psychology, 15(3), 169-182.

Lai, K. C. (1999). Freedom to learn: a study of the experiences of secondary school teachers and students in a geography field trip. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 8(3), 239-255.

I thought some of my readers would find this particularly interesting 🙂

Science Of Education Blog

In last week’s blog, I discussed test anxiety, and how this may affect student’s ability to perform well during exams.  This week, I will introduce how social anxiety effects education during collaborative learning/ group work.  I briefly mentioned general anxiety in the previous blog, so if anyone would like to read it before this one, just click here and have a look!    


So what is social anxiety (or social phobia)?  It is a constant feeling of fear during social situations.  This can vary from a small group of people gathered in a casual environment, to a group of people in a more formal environment such as a discussion in a classroom.  Many of us often feel a lack of confidence or slight nervousness meeting new people, or speaking in public.  However, individuals who suffer from social anxiety will experience this on a regular basis and on a higher…

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Learning Styles: Blogging

Last week I mentioned that Jang (2008) said students perform better if they were more actively involved with learning, baring this and my technology post in mind, I wanted to talk about blogging as an effective learning style. I really enjoy blogging and it’s one of the main reasons why I chose this module. I like the freedom of being able to work whenever (well as long as it’s due in on time) and the fact that we actually get to delve into a subject and research it the way we want to. Rather than just being told “this is what you’re going to learn. Now do an exam on what I’ve taught you”. I think blogging should be encouraged more and I shall discuss some of the reasons why in this post.

One of the key things for an effective learning style was to encourage active learning, and blogging certainly does, as bloggers are required to find and post whatever they can about a certain topic. Blood (2002) suggests blogging requires a three-step process: sourcing, filtering and posting. Suggesting that the bloggers don’t just learn what they post, but as they have to read and evaluate sooo much information before posting the best bits, that their knowledge on the surrounding topic is ever-growing. So as we are writing a blog every week about the psychological principles in education, think about all the journal articles and website articles you have read, you didn’t post ALL of the information that you read, did you? But that doesn’t mean you haven’t understood the rest of it and your knowledge in this area is vastly growing each week!

Furthermore, last week I also mentioned in order for a learning style to be successful and motivating it has to be enjoyable Atkins (1998). Well,Ferdig and Trammel (2004) suggest that blogs are considered to be a motivating tool because they are a bit different to the usual ways we are assessed, so we find it exciting and enjoyable! They also suggest that blogs are seen as enjoyable because the students usually get a chance to blog about whatever they like, so it is going to be something that they are interested in.

Another important thing to consider when thinking about blogging as an effective learning style is the social aspect that comes with it. The use of blogs gives all students involved a chance to participate through the use of commenting on each other’s blog posts. Glogoff (2005) suggests that this is beneficial to learning as a class discussion allows students to encourage each other as well as advancing their own perspective and experiences. These online-disccusions could be particularly effective for shy students who might not have wanted to participate face-to-face infront of people in a classroom (Kajder & Bull, 2003). Also in the traditional classroom manner, not all students would have chance to express their opinions anyway due to the limited time of the class schedule. There are also only a limited amount of people who can learn in a class too (the people in the room who have signed up to the class). With blogging, every student gets a chance to express their opinion and anyone can be involved in the learning – even if they are not in the class, they can still read the material! (Hello to all of you not in the Science of Education module, or not even at Bangor University who are reading this!!! Hope you are enjoying the learning experience lol). Expanding on this, the bloggers quickly learn that the posted content can be read by more people than just their teacher and their classmates. As we know that so many people can read our work, this actually makes us work harder as we feel as though we are being evaluated by more people. So it is thought that as there is a large audience reading our work, we are likely to produce better work in our blogs than our other assignments that are only marked by the teacher (Richardson and Swan, 2003).

To conclude, I think that blogging is an extremely effective learning style, as it allows students to actively learn and research what they want to (within reason), which is beneficial in itself because we are more likely to do well if we enjoy something! Blogging is also beneficial to learning because of the social aspect; it gives every student a voice, students can develop their own knowledge by commenting on other students’ blogs, ANY one can read the blog and benefit from the learning, and due to this students are more likely to produce better quality work knowing that so many people have access to their work.



Blood, R. (2002). The weblog handbook: Practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog. Basic Books.

Ferdig, R. E., & Trammell, K. D. (2004). Content delivery in the’Blogosphere’.The Journal, 31(7), 12-20.

Glogoff, S. (2005). Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate. Journal of Online Education, 1(5).

Jang, H. (2008). Supporting students’ motivation, engagement, and learning during an uninteresting activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 798.

Kajder S., and G. Bull. 2003. Scaffolding for struggling students. Learning & Leading with Technology 31 (2): 32–35

Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examing social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction.

Again, if you want to be a lazy bum and want to watch this talk instead of reading it.. here is the video. Sorry that I look such a scruff on this video, I think it was raining that day so my hair is tied back (I hate wearing my hair up!), and my cardigan is all messy.. maybe I should have a word with the guys who set up the rooms to see if we are allowed mirrors next time to check ourselves out before we start presenting? 😉 lol. Also, I forgot to repeat back the comments and questions that were asked at the end of the presentation, oops. But if you listen carefully you may be able to hear. Oh and look, finally stopped with the constant note reading. Enjoy xx