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FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Learning Styles

Source for your MSU Faculty Development Needs

Learning Styles

The term learning styles is generally used to group common ways that people learn.  It describes how an individual gathers, interprets, and comes to conclusions about information in learning situations. Basically, it refers to both the affective and cognitive processes by which an individual learns. There are numerous learning style models...

10 Points to Consider:

  1. Styles are preferences in the use of abilities, not abilities themselves.

  2. People have patterns of styles, not just a single style.

  3. Styles can change depending on the task or situation.

  4. People differ in the strength of their preferences.

  5. People differ in there stylistic flexibility.

  6. Styles are socialized and can change depending on who is near.

  7. Styles can change across one's lifetime.

  8. Styles are teachable.

  9. Styles valued at one time or place may not be valued at another.

  10. Styles, on average, are not good or bad -- it's a question of fit.

For more information, visit: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/index.html

How People Learn

According to Bransford, Brown and Cocking in
How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experirence and School,
there are four interdependent environmental aspects that best promote learning:

1. Foucs on the learners
Since new knowledge is built upon existing knowledge, learn the false beliefs and misunderstandings of concepts that students may have when they start a course.  Pay close attention to the attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and skills that students bring with them to the class.

2. Well-organized knowledge
Have clear learning goals, listing exactly what knowledge and skills they will be acquiring and how they will use them.

3. Ongoing assessment for understanding
Have frequent formal and informal modes for feedback on understanding-- not just memorization for end-of-the-semester exams. Include plenty of opportunities for formative assessments. This will allow students to self-asses and relfect in order to revise errors in misunderstandings.

4. Learning communities for challenge and support
In a learning community, students are active, creative participants in the learning process.  Camaraderie from peers can foster challenge, collaboration, as well as support.

Learning Theories