Belief in Learning Styles Myth May Be Detrimental — from apa.org
Many people believe learning styles predict academic and career success, study finds

Excerpts:

WASHINGTON — Many people, including educators, believe learning styles are set at birth and predict both academic and career success even though there is no scientific evidence to support this common myth, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Previous surveys in the United States and other industrialized countries across the world have shown that 80% to 95% of people believe in learning styles. It’s difficult to say how that myth became so widespread, Nancekivell said.

 

Also see:

  • Maybe They’re Born With It, or Maybe It’s Experience: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Learning Style Myth — from apa.org by Shaylene E. Nancekivell, Priti Shah, and Susan A. Gelman
    .
  • Learning Styles are NOT an Effective Guide for Learning Design — from debunker.club
    Excerpt:
    The strength of evidence against the use of learning styles is very strong. To put it simply, using learning styles to design or deploy learning is not likely to lead to improved learning effectiveness. While it may be true that learners have different learning preferences, those preference are not likely to be a good guide for learning. The bottom line is that when we design learning, there are far better heuristics to use than learning styles.
    .
  • Learning styles: Worth our time? — from Cathy Moore
    .
  • Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say — from psychologicalscience.org
    .
  • Learning Styles FAQ — by Daniel Willingham
    Excerpt:
    How can you not believe that that people learn differently? Isn’t it obvious?
    People do learn differently, but I think it is very important to say exactly how they learn differently, and focus our attention on those differences that really matter. If learning styles were obviously right it would be easy to observe evidence for them in experiments. Yet there is no supporting evidence. There are differences among kids that both seem obvious to us and for which evidence is easily obtained in experiments, e.g., that people differ in their interests, that students vary in how much they think of schoolwork as part of their identity (“I’m the kind of kid who works hard in school”) and that kids differ in what they already know at the start of a lesson. All three of these have sizable, easily observed effects on learning. I think that often when people believe that they observe obvious evidence for learning styles, they are mistaking it for ability.

 

From DSC:
While I’ve heard and read through the years that there isn’t support for learning styles — and I’ve come to adopt that perspective as well due to what I’ve read, such as the items listed above — I do think that each of us has our learning preferences (as the debunker club mentioned as well). That is, how we prefer to learn about a new subject:

  • Some people like to read the manual.
  • Others never pick up the manual…they prefer to use the trial and error / hands-on method.
  • Some people prefer to listen to audio books.
  • Others prefer to watch videos.
  • Others like to read about a new topic.
  • Others like to study in a very quiet place — while others prefer some background noise.
  • Some people love to learn in a 100% online-based mode…some people hate it, and that delivery method doesn’t work as well for them.

Along these lines…in my mind, offering learning in multiple media and in multiple ways maximizes the enjoyment of learning by a group of people. And now that we’re all into lifelong learning, the enjoyment of learning has notched waaay up in importance in my book. The more we enjoy learning, the more we enjoy life (and vice versa).

In fact, I’m getting closer to the point of putting enjoyment of learning over grades in terms of importance. Grades are a way to compare people/school systems/colleges/universities/etcetera…they are the currency of our current systems…and they are used to “incentivize” students. But such systems and methods often produce game players, not learners.

 

 

Cathedral Thinking – Designing for the Next Century — from tarunagoel.blogspot.com by Taruna Goel

Excerpts:

Cathedral thinking involves taking a leap and imagining the bigger picture and realizing that while it may seem that you are a small part, you play an important role in how that bigger picture will eventually emerge. It means realizing that your decisions today will lead to consequences in the future that you may or may not live to see but others will.
I think the concept has a key role to play in how we design for learning especially considering the future of work and the future of learning including multi generational learning in the context of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and other adaptive learning technologies.

With the cathedral thinking mindset, there are many questions that I am pondering about…

 

 

Bad bargain: Why we still ask kids to factor polynomials and how we fix it — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpt:

OK, we cut a bad deal 20 years ago and it’s time to fix it.

Kids are still factoring polynomials and that’s just dumb. Requiring every student to pass a course on regurgitated symbol manipulation (Algebra 2) is torturous for many students and why some dropout. It’s an inequitable barrier to college and careers.

“The tragedy of high school math,” said venture investor and education advocate Ted Dintersmith (who has a Ph.D. in math modeling), “is that less than 20% of adults ever use algebra. No adult in America still does integrals and derivatives by hand – the calculus that blocks so many from career paths. It remains in the curriculum because it’s easy to test, not important to learn.”

Math educator Dan Meyer told the We’re Doing It All Wrong Podcast that algebra 2 is “arcane gibberish…not useful knowledge”…

Now, rather than the plug and crank of symbol manipulation, we should be teaching computational thinking. As mathematician Conrad Wolfram said, we should be teaching math as if computers existed.

Rather than a separate symbol language, Wolfram argues, math should be taught as computational thinking and integrated across the curriculum. That starts with problem finding–spotting big tough problems worth working on. Next comes understanding the problems and valuables associated–that’s algebraic reasoning. But rather than focusing on computation (including factoring those nasty polynomials), students should be building data sets and using computers to do what they’re good at–calculations.

To fix the problem, states that require Algebra 2 should swap it out for a course in coding and computational thinking. Colleges and college entrance exams should drop Algebra 2 requirements. They should start by asking young people about their contributions to solving big problems.

 

From DSC:
This posting reminded me that, just the other day, I took the picture below…it’s outside a local mall. The annotated picture below gives you some of my thoughts on this ridiculous setup. 

 

Are some of our educational systems setup like this stop sign outside an abandoned, old store that's no longer being used?!

 

 

 

Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

Huge study finds professors’ attitudes affect students’ grades — and it’s doubly true for minority students. — from arstechnica.com by Scott Johnson

Excerpt:

Instead, the researchers think the data suggests that—in any number of small ways—instructors who think their students’ intelligence is fixed don’t keep their students as motivated, and perhaps don’t focus as much on teaching techniques that can encourage growth. And while this affects all students, it seems to have an extra impact on underrepresented minority students.

The good news, the researchers say, is that instructors can be persuaded to adopt more of a growth mindset in their teaching through a little education of their own. That small attitude adjustment could make them a more effective teacher, to the significant benefit of a large number of students.

 

Along these lines, also see:

 


 

 

 

Jennifer Gonzalez on the Aerodynamics of Exceptional Schools | SXSW EDU

 

 

Joint CS and Philosophy Initiative, Embedded EthiCS, Triples in Size to 12 Courses — from thecrimson.com by Ruth Hailu and Amy Jia

Excerpt:

The idea behind the Embedded EthiCS initiative arose three years ago after students in Grosz’s course, CS 108: “Intelligent Systems: Design and Ethical Challenges,” pushed for an increased emphasis on ethical reasoning within discussions surrounding technology, according to Grosz and Simmons. One student suggested Grosz reach out to Simmons, who also recognized the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to computer science.

“Not only are today’s students going to be designing technology in the future, but some of them are going to go into government and be working on regulation,” Simmons said. “They need to understand how [ethical issues] crop up, and they need to be able to identify them.”

 

 

Attention, college shoppers. These schools are slashing their prices. — from washingtonpost.com by Nick Anderson

Excerpt:

As soaring tuition scares off many families, a growing number of private colleges have embraced a marketing tactic associated more with selling airline tickets or flat-screen televisions than higher education: a price cut.

St. John’s College slashed tuition from $52,734 in this school year to $35,000 in the next.

The liberal arts school, with campuses in Maryland and New Mexico, joined more than 20 others nationwide that have reduced prices in the past three years.

The movement exposes a reality of higher education long hidden in plain sight: The difference between sticker prices and what the average student actually pays is often vast.

 

“Is that tenable? Is that right? Is that who we are?” asked Panayiotis Kanelos, president of the campus in Annapolis, Md. “Is it right for us to expect families to bear that burden?”

 

“Every time you raise the tuition, the screw gets tighter and tighter on families in the middle,” Kanelos said. “Something is broken in tuition pricing. We want to fix it now.”

 

The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! — from bigthink.com by Simon Oxenham (from 2/15/13)
Psychological Science in the Public Interest evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions.

 

Excerpts:

Practice Testing (Rating = High)
This is where things get interesting; testing is often seen as a necessary evil of education. Traditionally, testing consists of rare but massively important ‘high stakes’ assessments. There is however, an extensive literature demonstrating the benefits of testing for learning – but importantly, it does not seem necessary that testing is in the format of ‘high stakes’ assessments. All testing including ‘low stakes’ practice testing seems to result in benefits. Unlike many of the other techniques mentioned, the benefits of practice testing are not modest – studies have found that a practice test can double free recall!

Distributed Practice (Rating = High)
Have you ever wondered whether it is best to do your studying in large chunks or divide your studying over a period of time? Research has found that the optimal level of distribution of sessions for learning is 10-20% of the length of time that something needs to be remembered. So if you want to remember something for a year you should study at least every month, if you want to remember something for five years you should space your learning every six to twelve months. If you want to remember something for a week you should space your learning 12-24 hours apart. It does seem however that the distributed-practice effect may work best when processing information deeply – so for best results you might want to try a distributed practice and self-testing combo.

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 

Per Willingham (emphasis DSC):

  • Rereading is a terribly ineffective strategy. The best strategy–by far — is to self-test — which is the 9th most popular strategy out of 11 in this study.  Self-testing leads to better memory even compared to concept mapping (Karpicke & Blunt, 2011).

 

Three Takeaways from Becoming An Effective Learner:

  • Boser says that the idea that people have different learning styles, such as visual learning or verbal learning, has little scientific evidence to support it.
  • According to Boser, teachers and parents should praise their kids’ ability and effort, instead of telling them they’re smart. “When we tell people they are smart, we give them… a ‘fixed mindset,’” says Boser.
  • If you are learning piano – or anything, really – the best way to learn is to practice different composers’ work. “Mixing up your practices is far more effective,” says Boser.

 

Cumulative exams aren’t the same as spacing and interleaving. Here’s why. — from  retrievalpractice.org

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Our recommendations to make cumulative exams more powerful with small tweaks for you and your students:

  • Cumulative exams are good, but encourage even more spacing and discourage cramming with cumulative mini-quizzes throughout the semester, not just as an end-of-semester exam.
  • Be sure that cumulative mini-quizzes, activities, and exams include similar concepts that require careful discrimination from students, not simply related topics.
  • Make sure you are using spacing and interleaving as learning strategies and instructional strategies throughout the semester, not simply as part of assessments and cumulative exams.

Bottom line: Just because an exam is cumulative does not mean it automatically involves spacing or interleaving. Be mindful of relationships across exam content, as well as whether students are spacing their study throughout the semester or simply cramming before an exam – cumulative or otherwise.

 


From DSC:
We, like The Learning Scientists encourages us to do and even provides their own posters, should have posters with these tips on them throughout every single school and library in the country. The posters each have a different practice such as:

  • Spaced practice
  • Retrieval practice
  • Elaboration
  • Interleaving
  • Concrete examples
  • Dual coding

That said, I could see how all of that information could/would be overwhelming to some students and/or the more technical terms could bore them or fly over their heads. So perhaps we could boil down the information to feature excerpts from the top sections only that put the concepts into easier to digest words such as:

  • Practice bringing information to mind
  • Switch between ideas while you study
  • Combine words and visuals
  • Etc. 

 

Learn how to study using these practices

 

 

Training the workforce of the future: Education in America will need to adapt to prepare students for the next generation of jobs – including ‘data trash engineer’ and ‘head of machine personality design’– from dailymail.co.uk by Valerie Bauman

Excerpts:

  • Careers that used to safely dodge the high-tech bullet will soon require at least a basic grasp of things like web design, computer programming and robotics – presenting a new challenge for colleges and universities
  • A projected 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 2030 haven’t been invented yet
  • The coming high-tech changes are expected to touch a wider variety of career paths than ever before
  • Many experts say American universities aren’t ready for the change because the high-tech skills most workers will need are currently focused just on people specializing in science, technology, engineering and math

.

 

 

Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

The world is changing. Here’s how companies must adapt. — from weforum.org by Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Although we have only seen the beginning, one thing is already clear: the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the greatest transformation human civilization has ever known. As far-reaching as the previous industrial revolutions were, they never set free such enormous transformative power.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming practically every human activity...its scope, speed and reach are unprecedented.

Enormous power (Insert from DSC: What I was trying to get at here) entails enormous risk. Yes, the stakes are high. 

 

“And make no mistake about it: we are now writing the code that will shape our collective future.” CEO of Siemens AG

 

 

Contrary to Milton Friedman’s maxim, the business of business should not just be business. Shareholder value alone should not be the yardstick. Instead, we should make stakeholder value, or better yet, social value, the benchmark for a company’s performance.

Today, stakeholders…rightfully expect companies to assume greater social responsibility, for example, by protecting the climate, fighting for social justice, aiding refugees, and training and educating workers. The business of business should be to create value for society.

This seamless integration of the virtual and the physical worlds in so-called cyber-physical systems – that is the giant leap we see today. It eclipses everything that has happened in industry so far. As in previous industrial revolutions but on a much larger scale, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will eliminate millions of jobs and create millions of new jobs.

 

“…because the Fourth Industrial Revolution runs on knowledge, we need a concurrent revolution in training and education.

If the workforce doesn’t keep up with advances in knowledge throughout their lives, how will the millions of new jobs be filled?” 

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 


From DSC:
At least three critically important things jump out at me here:

  1. We are quickly approaching a time when people will need to be able to reinvent themselves quickly and cost-effectively, especially those with families and who are working in their (still existing) jobs. (Or have we already entered this period of time…?)
  2. There is a need to help people identify which jobs are safe to reinvent themselves to — at least for the next 5-10 years.
  3. Citizens across the globe — and their relevant legislatures, governments, and law schools — need to help close the gap between emerging technologies and whether those technologies should even be rolled out, and if so, how and with which features.

 


 

What freedoms and rights should individuals have in the digital age?

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 

The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2018 — from educationnext.org

Excerpt:

Every December, Education Next releases a list of the most popular articles we published over the course of the year based on readership.

The article that generated the most interest this year was one that looked at the policy of inclusion, or mainstreaming, in special education. A response to that article was our third most popular article of the year.

Some other popular articles were studies finding that teachers’ impact on non-cognitive skills is 10 times more predictive of students’ longer-term success than teachers’ impact on test scores; an analysis of the effectiveness of instructional coaching for teachers instead of regular professional development; and a look at whether teacher preparation programs can be evaluated based on the learning gains of their graduates’ students.

Other articles collected data on public support for higher teacher pay and greater school spending, the decline in private school attendance by middle school families, and whether states are lowering their proficiency standards.

Here’s the list of 2018’s Top 20 articles…

 

 

Modern Learners 2018 Provocation of the Year — from modernlearners.com by Bruce Dixon

Excerpt:

In this context, provocation is therefore about deconstructing meanings and hidden agendas, challenging assumptions and seeking new ways of thinking not just about what we do, or how we do it, but most importantly, why we do what we do.

It is in this context that the choice for our 2018 Provocation of the Year came down to a single word… assessment.

 

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ Now there’s a provocation to really start a vibrant conversation.“

 

From DSC:
First of all, an excerpt from an email from RetrievalPractice.org:

Last week, we talked about an activity we call Flash Forward. Simply ask your students these questions:

“Now that you’ve taken this class, what is one thing you want to remember 10 years from now (and why)?”

“How will you remember that one thing? What will you do to make sure you don’t forget?”

Second of all, the topic of remembering something 10 years from now (from some current learning) made me think about obtaining a long-term return on investment (ROI) from that learning.

In the online-based course that I’ve been teaching for a while now, I’m all about helping the students in my classes obtain long-term benefits from taking the class. Grades aren’t the key. The learning is the key!

The class is entitled, “Foundations of Information Technology” and I want them to be using the tools, technologies, services, and concepts (that we learned about) loooooong after they graduate from college! We work on things like RSS feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, building their network, building their personal brand, HTML/web design, Microsoft Excel, the Internet of Things and much more. I want them to be practicing those things, leveraging those tools, pulse-checking their surroundings, networking with others, serving others with their gifts, and building on the foundations that they put into place waaaay back in 201__.

 

 

 

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