DailyDirt: You Must Un-Learn What You Have Learned... Really?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

There is a lot of demand to improve the institutions of education in various ways. Creating an education system in the US seemingly costs a lot, and the results aren't as tangible (or as favorable) as everyone would like it to be. But in order to improve, perhaps we need a closer look at what actually needs to improve. Here are just a few links on how we learn. By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

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  • identicon
    Eric Barrett, 26 Oct 2011 @ 7:19am

    So while I'm open....

    ....to the idea that learning styles don't matter. I'm not sure this "study" proves it. I pulled up the actual research paper, and from what I read, they didn't analyze the results of previous studies, so much as look at them and talk about their implications. (There's no meta analysis performed, which is key to being able to draw conclusions from previous research. Their main complaint seems to be, "these weren't experimental studies" which is a complaint that could be leveled against many / most psychological studies.)

    They raise an interesting objection, but their own conclusion fails to live up to their own call of "evidence based" education.

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    • icon
      Michael Ho (profile), 26 Oct 2011 @ 10:22am

      Re: So while I'm open....

      Eric, without doing any research of my own, I'd guess that there are probably a several different "brain groups" in a human population -- where some brains learn more effectively using certain methods than others -- but that it's very difficult to determine which group a brain belongs to because it's impractical to "teach/learn via a single method" even for a brief study.

      (And maybe they need to do a study where they observe students learning subjects that are very difficult to learn -- to see how some succeed/fail at physics/etc...)

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  • icon
    Mike42 (profile), 26 Oct 2011 @ 10:21am

    Telling Kids their smart...

    I would love to see a study of all the kids which were in "gifted" classes, and what academic achivements they made. I was in one throughout elementary and middle school, and to the best of my knowledge, I am the only one who actually used any of it.
    Of the people I followed at all, one is a handy-man, two were drug dealers, and one just became an elementary school teacher after years of bartending, and one is a manager at K-Mart. My sample is completely ancedotal, though. I'd love to see a larger and more random study, but seeing as they've had gifted classes for at least 35 years, the data should be there.

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  • identicon
    Eric Barrett, 26 Oct 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re: So while I'm open....

    Michael - I think that's a possibility. But I bet the real culprit in these studies is that we're just so good AT learning, that even if we learn better through visual or auditory styles, we can easily compensate by using other learning styles. If that's the case you'd really only see a minor to modest boost in performance. On top of that, as you point out, it is impractical to teach in only one style. How many times do we ever learn something in a classroom that's through only one learning style. We don't ask kids to close their eyes while the teacher talks about math, or to only watch while the teacher points to pictures without talking.

    It would be pretty unethical to do a long term study of teaching through only one method.

    I'm entirely open to learning styles not existing, I just need some evidence to prove otherwise. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Michael Ho (profile), 26 Oct 2011 @ 11:23am

      Re: Re: So while I'm open....

      Eric, Good points. On top of what you suggest, the subject matter of what is taught also makes a difference. I'd think that what might work for teaching calculus might not work for teaching French...

      Ultimately, technology will likely allow students to learn at their own pace using whatever style they choose. So perhaps by analyzing Khan Academy statistics, we'll find out that 73% of students prefer to learn math with visual aids and pick up math skills faster using graphs/etc -- or something along those lines....

      So there may be ways to determine if teaching/learning styles exist (or matter at all) -- without resorting to unethical methods of teaching. :P

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anon, 27 Oct 2011 @ 11:19am

    different learning styles

    My grandmother raised me, I remember her asking me if I didn't hear her ask me to do , I replied, truthfully, that I had heard her, but didn't remember what she said.

    She told me she would help me remember _next_ time. Grandma had a razor strop to assist in that...

    Valuable lesson learned: Don't tell Grandma the truth.

    Years later I took an instructor billet in the military, our job: make sure people don't kill their own troops. This is a pass/die type class, there was no fail option. Everyone has to PASS a class like this, so we modified the training based on the student.

    I don't learn well from lectures, as my grandmother could attest, but I can learn from reading the material, or hands on. As a matter of record, lectures are the worst of all ways to transfer knowledge, but a minority of people are capable of learning that way, so it persists.

    The problem is it's hard to teach. Lectures are easy, and hands on requires a lot of personal attention that frankly some teachers don't want to extend. Yes, I blame the teacher because I was one.

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