Students process information differently, with some preferring visual, auditory, or tactile processes for acquiring and analyzing new data. You can expect Faculty Focus to report on the latest research on learning styles and how teachers can adjust their instructional techniques to accommodate all learners.
April 30 - What’s the Story on Learning Styles?
We have this tendency in higher education to throw babies out with bath water. It derives from dualistic thinking. Either something is right or wrong, it’s in or out, up or down. As mature thinkers, we disavow these dichotomous perspectives, but then find their simplicity hard to resist. They make complicated things easy.
December 6 - Getting Over Learning Styles
There is a landfill of studies—more than 3,000 articles and 600 books. If you Google “learning styles” you will get 9.7 million hits in 0.16 seconds. “Learning styles workshops” produces 7.8 million hits and even “critiques of learning styles” garners 460,000 items. By the numbers of instruments, handbooks, and workshops advertised online, learning styles must be a sizable industry. But after diving into the pile, my mind was full of grit and cynicism. A zealous quest has created claims and theories so bad they aren’t even wrong. There had to be something useful in all this effort or despair would settle over me like so much dust.
March 13 - Challenging the Notion of Learning Styles
You should know that evidence supporting learning styles is being challenged. Find below the reference for a research article authored by a respected collection of educational researchers that disputes the fundamental assumption that students with a designated learning style (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, for example) learn more when the instructional methods match their style. Also referenced is a brief, nontechnical article authored by Cedar Riener and Daniel Willingham, who begin their piece with this nonequivocating statement, “There is no credible evidence that learning styles exist.” (p. 33)
There are a number of ways of dealing with silent students in multicultural classroom setting. For instructors of international students, it is important to note cross cultural perspectives in course readings and grading the classroom discussion. Because of lack of language proficiency or being unfamiliar with the American classroom culture, students from other countries feel stressed and frustrated. To bridge this gap of international students, instructors could adopt strategies such as e-mailing study questions beforehand, giving clear directions and asking specific questions or summarizing important points of the discussions (Tatar, 2005).
June 23 - A First-Person Explanation of Why Some International Students Are Silent in the U.S. Classroom
Recently, in a class discussion, my professor let the students speak on the issue of silence. Many students in that class were either K-12 school or college teachers. They shared their experiences and perceptions of silent students — both native and non-native speakers of English. Some of my classmates were not familiar with the culture of silence in foreign countries. Personally, this class reminded me of my own experience of understanding the U.S. classroom experience a few years ago.
January 21 - Assessing and Developing Metacognitive Skills
Metacognition is easily defined: “[It] refers to the ability to reflect upon, understand and control one’s learning,” (Schraw and Dennison, p. 460) or, even more simply, “thinking about one’s thinking.” Despite straightforward definitions, metacognition is a complicated construct that has been the object of research for more than 30 years.
November 22 - Students on the Go: What’s an Instructor to Do?
Mobile learning is defined as any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies.
PowerPoint is versatile in allowing us to add multimedia (graphics, sound, audio, video, text, animation, etc.) to our presentations for keeping online students’ rapt attention. But how much multimedia should you add? In answering this question, I find that taking into consideration students’ learning styles and cultural/international backgrounds can help to lessen the risk of using too much or too little multimedia in your online PPTs.
July 9 - Learning from Experience
In an editorial published in the Journal of Geoscience Education, a geography faculty member offers a testimonial in favor of learner-centered teaching. “Through my 15 years of teaching Earth System Science, I have explored various ways of teaching it and have become convinced that the Learner-Centered Environment, that builds upon constructivist theory principles and fosters teaching practices that recognize the active roles students must play in their learning, is particularly suitable for Earth system science education.” (p. 208)
July 1 - Unlearning
The capacity to learn and to use what we’ve learned is one of those things that makes life worth living. When the mind delivers what we need or helps us understand something new, we take it for granted, unable to imagine its absence. Like so much else in life, learning is a gift to be used and enjoyed. But it is also one of those gifts that sometimes wears out.