Monday, January 4, 2010

Teaching Styles

Ironically, it is a former student (Lukas Neville) who twittered a link to a piece that raises questions about teaching styles and learning styles.  We have been told that students have different learning styles, so we ought to teach in ways that do not just play to one style of learning.  However, this piece claims that no one has really done the necessary kind of testing to see if teaching to learning styles actually works.
For a given lesson, one instructional technique turns out to be optimal for all groups of students, even though students with certain learning styles may not love that technique.
So learning style ends up being about taste--whether students like a particular teaching style--and not so much about  what they learn.
What this means for instructors, Mr. Pashler says, is that they should not waste any time or energy trying to determine the composition of learning styles in their classrooms.
Instead, teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best taught through lectures, and some are best taught through group discussions.

 And some stuff must be taught through lectures if there are 600 students in the room.  But one can mix things up in lecture to keep things alive--video, demonstrations, music, even, dare I say it, humor.

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