Don’t just teach them, teach them how they learn

Dominant learning style of target audience
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This week as I was teaching my class different reading strategies they could apply to their textbooks.  I  brought up how everyone has a different learning style.  To my surprise many of them did not understand what I was talking about.  This concerned me.  I realized that not only do I need to teach these kids my subject specific content but I also need to help them understand how they learn.  It is very important that students gain an understanding of how they learn.  This provides them insight on how they should study and approach their learning.  With out this knowledge they are at a real disadvantage in their education.  So like a good teacher, I scraped my next days lesson and began looking at how I could help my students understand how they learn.

So the next day we discussed what the different styles of learning were and I had the students take an assessment that helped them find out what learning style best fits them.  In this process I found 10 great sites that contain great learning style assessments.  So if you find your self in a similar position as me in your class use these sites to help your students learn how they learn.

  1. Multiple Intelligences (Find your Strengths)
  2. What is your learning style?
  3. The VARK Questionnaire
  4. Free learning styles inventory, including graphical results
  5. Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire
  6. What are my Learning Strengths?
  7. Learning Styles Explained
  8. Multiple Intelligences
  9. Multiple Intelligences Inventory
  10. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories model
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Technology A Vital Instructional Tool

No one can deny the influence technology is having on our society today. New ways to communicate and conduct business are being created daily. Students today see technology as a daily necessity that has become a central part of their life. Educators must address this view of technology in the classroom to successfully teach the students of today. Technology is no longer just a neat way to present information and create projects for students, but a necessary skill that students must have to be successful in our ever changing society. The use of technology as a medium provides students an engaging learning environment that is student-centered, maximizes student achievement, and provides necessary skills. To understand why we should promote technology in education today, we must look at the following areas: preparation for the work force, developing a student-centered learning environment, student assessment and standardized testing.

Educators must continue to assess the needs students will require to ensure their success in the current workforce. Integrating technology into their curriculum provides the students the opportunity to develop the needed skills to work with common software, and communication tools that will be needed to contribute to the workforce. Krieg, Brown and Ballard (1995) in their article, Transition: School to Work, state that today’s work force is moving into what they term as the “third wave” of the industrial revolution. They believe that students must have acquired a “new set of skills to survive economically, politically, and socially” (p. 7).

Integrating technology in instruction also allows for the development of student-centered learning environments. It is through the use of technology that students can see how they are progressing through lessons and allows them the ability to make adjustments in their learning to address their learning style through instant feedback. Students can have material read to them to meet the needs of auditory learners, spend more time doing simulations to meet the needs of kinesthetic learners, or visually show students through pictures and/or videos for visual learners. This facilitates students’ ownership in their education, and allows them to progress at their own pace (Underwood, Brown, 1997).  Kulik reviewed 500 studies and found that students learn more, faster, and have a more positive attitude toward instruction in courses which involve computer-based instruction (Kulik, 1994). Technology allows educators to meet the needs of individual learners and reduces the cognitive load of the learner to maximize learning.

Realizing that integrating technology into curriculum has benefits to student learning, we must then consider how best to assess this new knowledge. It is here that research has shown that technology is beneficial in student assessment.  Burstein, Marcu, Andreyev, Chodorow, (2001) and Foltz, Gilliam, Kendall (2000) conducted studies that discovered it was possible to develop computer based software to assess open-ended questions with similar deviation as would be found between two different human judges. These types of programs are able to provide instant feedback about their learning, creating a more personal or student-centered learning environment. The use of tools such as these can increase scores on standardized testing. In 700 empirical studies in the state of West Virginia, Schacter found that students engaged with computer aided instruction and integrated learning systems. Simulations and software produced positive gains in achievement on standardized and national tests (Schacter, 2001, p. 9).

The integration of technology can accommodate different learning styles by providing a variety of instructional mediums that not only engages students but increases motivation and ownership in their education, making their learning student-centered. The benefits can be seen in student achievement on classroom, state, and national level assessment tests. It also provides the students with the necessary skills required to participate in the work force, providing them the tools needed to be successful in our ever changing society.

References

Burstein, J., Marcu, D., Andreyev, S., & Chodorow, M. (2001, July). Towards automatic classification of discourse elements in essays. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Toulouse, France.

Foltz, P. W., Gilliam, S., & Kendall, S. (2000). Supporting content-based feedback in online writing evaluation with LSA. Interactive Learning Environments, 8(2), pp. 111-129. Retrieved November 27, 2006, from http://www.knowledge-technologies.com/papers/ILE_foltz2000.pdf.

Krieg, F. J., Brown, P., & Ballard, J. (1995). Transition: School to Work. Bethesda, MD:    The National Association of School Psychologists.

Kulik, J. (1994). Meta-analytic studies of findings on computer-based instruction. In Baker, E. L. and O’Neil, H. F. Jr. (Eds.), Technology assessment in education and training. (pp. 9-33) Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Schacter, J. (2001). The impact of education technology on student achievement: What the most current research has to say. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Exchange on Education Technology.  Retrieved November 23, 2006 from http://www.mff.org/pubs/ME161.pdf.

Underwood, J., & Brown, J. (Eds.). (1997). Integrated learning systems: Potential into practice. Oxford, UK: Heinemann/NCET.

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