Capitalizing on Your Education: Know Your Style

Kinesthetic. Visual. Audio. Those three words, these learning styles, categorized us in grade school. They shaped the way we learned, and the ways our teachers taught. The idea of learning styles has been around for decades. “For more than 30 years,” says the Association for Psychological Science, “the notion that teaching methods should match a student’s particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education.” As its influence has grown, so has the study of it. Ryan R. Jensen of our Geography department has researched the learning styles of student swithin different majors and learning environments. He identified three new learning styles that describe students working on group projects. And in a 2012 study published in the Asia Pacific Media Educator, he identified four types of communications learners:

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Ryan Jensen, All Rights Reserved

Four types of Communications Learners

Global Conceptualizers care about the big picture, the “why” behind lists of facts and details. Concepts are easier to understand than memorized facts, and being sensible is better than being imaginative. These students remember what they see better than what they hear. They are globally, realistically, and sequentially (when it comes to writing) oriented. Global conceptualizers prefer classes dedicated to theory and concepts.

Verbal Learners gravitate to text rather than graphs and charts. They do not like theory-oriented courses. Surprisingly, they do not like reading for fun. Verbal learners do not like proofreading their own work because they are not detail-oriented. They remember things better when they experience them, rather than when they think about them. These students express their opinions boldly in group settings.

Realistic Visualizers see themselves as highly realistic and detail-oriented. These students prefer graphs and charts to obtain information. They understand the overall structures of subjects at the same level that they do their details. When these students remember or recall something, they can picture it in their minds. They learn better by talking things out with other students. Group work is their favorite when they can make a plan for the project. These student rarely get to know their classmates.

Ambiguous Conceptualizers feel most comfortable learning concepts and theory. Remembering what the teacher said is easier for them than recalling visual aids. Reading is their past-time. They love to share their thoughts in group collaboration and dive into projects without planning. These students can remember things that they have thought about easier than things they have done. These students like to master one concept before learning more.

How does this apply to you?

“In recommending a deeper understanding of learning styles,” says Jensen, “we do [not] propose a hyper-individualized approach in which each student is given a unique curriculum to match his or her specific style. But friction may be destructive when existing…thinking and learning learning skills are not called upon and developed. One example of destructive friction is the tendency instructors frequently have to take over as many learning and thinking activities as possible. Knowledge remains inert; that is to say students may learn many facts, formulas and theories but are unable to apply them to new problems.” Jensen suggests that teachers use their knowledge of learning styles to help students “gain satisfaction form learning and thus develop lifelong skills by better understanding their own learning processes and preferences.” It thus behooves students of all majors as well to gain that understanding to further capitalize on their education.

Do your instructors teach to your learning style?

Teaching Toddlers: Tips From the Child and Family Studies Lab

BYU‘s Child and Family Studies Lab has been learning hand in hand with parents and children for over 65 years. Teaching toddlers and other young children is their expertise.

If you’re the parent of a young child, you may think that it’s too soon to teach them about certain topics. Toddlers and preschoolers can be very apt and eager pupils, though, because they are naturally very curious and tactile. So, consider these tips from our FHSS experts:

Where’er Thou Art…Take Advantage of it!

Remember: the situations in which you find yourself throughout the day are the best (and healthiest) opportunities to teach your children. Making time for these types of exploratory activities—whether it’s during an afternoon walk or a morning romp in the snow—are key to child development. Your first goal should be to help your child associate learning with positive time spent with you. Once that association is established, it will likely continue throughout their life. Some theorize that firstborn children tend to perform better in school because at a young age the attention they receive from their parents is undivided between siblings.

Toddler-aged children certainly have a desire to learn. And your number one goal should be to nurture that desire. At this stage, it is more important to  help your children develop positive dispositions toward learning than anything else. Drilling and pressuring your children to learn too much too quickly can be detrimental to their futures. For example, the CFSL blog teaches us that “The amount of drill and practice required for successful reading of the English language at an early age may undermine the children’s dispositions to be readers.” Does your home encourage learning?

Teach at Their Pace

Children need time to learn. Yet so often at home we feel in a rush to give them the best education possible. Out of genuine concern for their well being, some of us tend to set quotas for our children’s learning. But which are we more worried about? How well Billy is learning, or how Billy compares to Bobby next door?

“The greatest enemy of understanding is coverage. As long as you are determined to cover everything, you actually ensure that most kids are not going to understand.” says Howard Gardner, a world-famous developmental psychologist. And the results from the research and experience at the CFSL show that Howie is right on the money.

If we fail to teach for understanding, we ultimately fail to teach.

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Learn Best Teaching Methods

BYU’s CFSL is constantly looking for ways to improve its teaching methods. And so should you. “Research is an active component in the BYU kindergarten and preschool, thus ensuring the implementation of up-to-date practices in meeting the assessed needs of each student.” Try these tips:

        • Subscribe to a parent-child teaching blogs such as MomItForward.com
        • Search for a Yahoo preschool homeschool group in your area. Look for those who have the most recent activity before asking to join.
        • Talk with experts, teachers, and even your friends and neighbors about what they are doing to improve their children’s learning environment.
        • The parent tips section of the CFSL site has lots of ideas on how to teach your children.  You can teach science to kids at any age, even to preschoolers. Steve Spangler Science is a great resource for all kinds of experiments for young children. Current BYU president Kevin J. Worthen had fun doing pudding experiments with CFSL kids recently.

Former president of the LDS church David O. McKay once said, “No greater responsibility can rest upon any man [or woman], than to be a teacher of God’s children.” And parents have an opportunity to teach their children at virtually every moment of every day. Hopefully you’ve noticed by now that your children learn more from what you do than what you say.  Above all: love, educate, and enjoy yourselves and your children to the fullest.

What are your child’s favorite learning activities? Tell us in the “Leave a Reply” section below!