Adult Learning s an instructor, you should have a basic understanding of how adults learn. Adult learners bring experiences and self-awareness to learning that younger learners do not. To understand adult learning, you should understand learning domains, learning styles, and how and why adults learn. Educators have determined that most adults, adolescents, and children learn best by experiencing a blend of activities that promote the three learning domains: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. Cognitive refers to knowledge or a body of subject matter, affective refers to attitudes and beliefs, and behavior refers to practical application. The table below shows examples of activities in each of the three domains.
COGNITIVE AFFECTIVE BEHAVIORAL
Lectures Values clarification exercises Role plays
Brainstorms Nominal group process Simulations
Discussions Consensus-seeking activities Teach backs
The three primary learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Visual learners tend to learn by looking, seeing, viewing, and watching. Visual learners need to see an instructor’s facial expressions and body language to fully understand the content of a lesson. They tend to sit at the front of the classroom to avoid visual distractions. They tend to think in pictures and learn best from visual displays. During a lecture or discussion, they tend to take detailed notes to absorb information. Auditory learners tend to learn by listening, hearing, and speaking.
Auditory learners learn best through lectures, discussions, and brainstorming. They interpret the underlying meaning of speech by listening to voice tone, pitch, and speed and other speech nuances. Written information has little meaning to them until they hear it. They benefit best by reading text out loud and using a tape recorder.
Kinesthetic learners tend to learn by experiencing, moving, and doing. Kinesthetic learners learn best through a hands-on approach and actively exploring the physical world around them. They have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, and easily become distracted by their need for activity and exploration. We retain approximately 10 percent of what we see; 30 to 40 percent of what we see and hear; and 90 percent of what we see, hear, and do. We all have the capability to learn via all three styles, but are usually dominate in one. https://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/downloads/freebies/172/PR%20Pre-course%20Reading%20Assignment.pdf
Here is an online test so that you can learn what type of learner you are, if you do not know already: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml
If you are in school right now or plan to in the future, here is a site to assist you with studying as applied to your learning style: http://blog.centers.saintleo.edu/blog/the-3-types-of-learning-styles-how-to-use-them-for-college-success
Learning how to identify learning styles and how to teach to the different learning styles at all times to reach as many students as possible is important to your success as a teacher.
Are there only three learning styles? What are VARK learning styles:
One of the most accepted understandings of learning styles is that student learning styles fall into three “categories:” Visual Learners, Auditory Learners and Kinesthetic Learners. These learning styles are found within educational theorist Neil Fleming’s VARK model of Student Learning. VARK is an acronym that refers to the four types of learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic. (The VARK model is also referred to as the VAK model, eliminating Reading/Writing as a category of preferential learning.) The VARK model acknowledges that students have different approaches to how they process information, referred to as “preferred learning modes.” The main ideas of VARK are outlined in Learning Styles Again: VARKing up the right tree! (Fleming & Baume, 2006)
- Students’ preferred learning modes have significant influence on their behavior and learning.
- Students’ preferred learning modes should be matched with appropriate learning strategies.
- Information that is accessed through students’ use of their modality preferences shows an increase in their levels of comprehension, motivation and metacognition.
Identifying your students as visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic learners, and aligning your overall curriculum with these learning styles, will prove to be beneficial for your entire classroom. Allowing students to access information in terms they are comfortable with will increase their academic confidence.
Tips for accommodating learning styles: https://teach.com/what/teachers-teach/learning-styles/
But, are there only three learning styles?
Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience at Harvard, developed one theory in 1983. Gardner defines “intelligence” not as an IQ but, rather, as the skills that enable anyone to gain new knowledge and solve problems.
Gardner proposed that there are several different types of intelligences, or learning styles.
- Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart) – People who possess this learning style learn best through reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Verbal students absorb information by engaging with reading materials and by discussing and debating ideas.
- Logical-Mathematical (Logic Smart) – Those who exhibit this type of intelligence learn by classifying, categorizing, and thinking abstractly about patterns, relationships, and numbers.
- Visual-Spatial (Picture Smart) – These people learn best by drawing or visualizing things using the mind’s eye. Visual people learn the most from pictures, diagrams, and other visual aids.
- Auditory-Musical (Music Smart) – Students who are music smart learn using rhythm or melody, especially by singing or listening to music.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart) – Body-smart individuals learn best through touch and movement. These people are best at processing information through the body. Sometimes kinesthetic learners work best standing up and moving rather than sitting still.
- Interpersonal (People Smart) – Those who are people smart learn through relating to others by sharing, comparing, and cooperating. Interpersonal learners can make excellent group leaders and team players.
- Intrapersonal (Self Smart) – Intrapersonal-intelligent people learn best by working alone and setting individual goals. Intrapersonal learners are not necessarily shy; they are independent and organized.
- Naturalistic (Nature Smart) – Naturalistics learn by working with nature. Naturalistic students enjoy learning about living things and natural events. They may excel in the sciences and be very passionate about environmental issues.
Accepting Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences has several implications for teachers in terms of classroom instruction. The theory states that all seven intelligences are needed to productively function in society. Teachers, therefore, should think of all intelligences as equally important. This is in great contrast to traditional education systems which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbal and mathematical intelligences. Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that educators should recognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills.
Another implication is that teachers should structure the presentation of material in a style which engages most or all of the intelligences. For example, when teaching about the revolutionary war, a teacher can show students battle maps, play revolutionary war songs, organize a role play of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and have the students read a novel about life during that period. This kind of presentation not only excites students about learning, but it also allows a teacher to reinforce the same material in a variety of ways. By activating a wide assortment of intelligences, teaching in this manner can facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject material.
Everyone is born possessing the seven intelligences. Nevertheless, all students will come into the classroom with different sets of developed intelligences. This means that each child will have his own unique set of intellectual strengths and weaknesses. These sets determine how easy (or difficult) it is for a student to learn information when it is presented in a particular manner. This is commonly referred to as a learning style. Many learning styles can be found within one classroom. Therefore, it is impossible, as well as impractical, for a teacher to accommodate every lesson to all of the learning styles found within the classroom. Nevertheless the teacher can show students how to use their more developed intelligences to assist in the understanding of a subject which normally employs their weaker intelligences (Lazear, 1992). For example, the teacher can suggest that an especially musically intelligent child learn about the revolutionary war by making up a song about what happened. http://ericae.net/digests/tm9601.htm