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.

 

 

A giant book-shaped library — from fubiz.net

 

 

Cambridge library installation gives readers control of their sensory space — from cambridge.wickedlocal.com by Hannah Schoenbaum

Excerpts:

A luminous igloo-shaped structure in the front room of the Cambridge Public Library beckoned curious library visitors during the snowy first weekend of March, inviting them to explore a space engineered for everyone, yet uniquely their own.

Called “Alterspace” and developed by Harvard’s metaLAB and Library Innovation Lab, this experiment in adaptive architecture granted the individual control over the sensory elements in his or her space. A user enters the LED-illuminated dome to find headphones, chairs and an iPad on a library cart, which displays six modes: Relax, Read, Meditate, Focus, Create and W3!Rd.

From the cool blues and greens of Relax mode to a rainbow overload of excitement in the W3!Rd mode, Alterspace is engineered to transform its lights, sounds and colors into the ideal environment for a particular action.

 

 

From DSC:
This brings me back to the question/reflection…in the future, will students using VR headsets be able to study by a brook? An ocean? In a very quiet library (i.e., the headset would come with solid noise cancellation capabilities build into it)?  This type of room/capability would really be helpful for our daughter…who is easily distracted and doesn’t like noise.

 

 

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:

 


 

 

Using arts education to help other lessons stick — from nytimes.com by Perri Klass
The arts can be a source of joy in a child’s day, and also come in handy for memorizing times tables.

Excerpts:

Arts education in schools has introduced many children to great painters and great music, and helped them through their first dance steps or tentative musical endeavors. It can serve as a bright spot in the schoolchild’s day or week, a class that brings in beauty, color and joy, and which is not about testing.

These subjects are often under threat either from budget cuts or from the inexorable demands of academic testing and “accountability,” but insights from neuroscience suggest that arts education can play additional important roles in how children learn.

Arts education encompasses many disciplines: “I’m talking about everything from music, drama, dance, design, visual arts,” Dr. Sowden said. And the goal goes beyond the specific subjects, he said: “You’re looking for opportunities in the arts education context to encourage children to ask questions, to use their imaginations, but also to approach their work in a systematic, disciplined way.”

 

 

For a next gen learning platform: A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related “apps” [Christian]

From DSC:
In a next generation learning system, it would be sharp/beneficial to have a Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities that you could turn on and off (at will) — as one component of your learning ecosystem that could feature a setup located in your living room or office.

For example, put a Netflix-like interface to the apps out at eduappcenter.com (i.e., using a rolling interface at first, then going to a static page/listing of apps…again…similar to Netflix).

 

A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related apps

 

 

 

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

 

 

From DSC:
Not too long ago, I really enjoyed watching a program on PBS regarding America’s 100 most-loved books, entitled, “The Great American Read.”

 

Watch “The Grand Finale”

 

While that’s not the show I’m talking about, it got me to thinking of one similar to it — something educational, yet entertaining. But also, something more.

The program that came to my mind would be a program that’s focused on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format. 

For example, you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc.  These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

For example, how about this for a potential topic: Grades or no grades?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an A-F grading system?
  • What are the benefits and issues/drawbacks with using grades? 
  • How are we truly using grades Do we use them to rank and compare individuals, schools, school systems, communities? Do we use them to “weed people out” of a program?
  • With our current systems, what “product” do we get? Do we produce game-players or people who enjoy learning? (Apologies for some of my bias showing up here! But my son has become a major game-player and, likely, so did I at his age.)
  • How do grades jibe with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)? On one hand…how do you keep someone moving forward, staying positive, and trying to keep learning/school enjoyable yet on the other hand, how do you have those grades mean something to those who obtain data to rank school systems, communities, colleges, programs, etc.?
  • How do grades impact one’s desire to learn throughout one’s lifetime?

Such debates could be watched by students and then they could have their own debates on subjects that they propose.

Or the show could have journalists debate college or high school teams. The format could sometimes involve professors and deans debating against researchers. Or practitioners/teachers debating against researchers/cognitive psychologists. 

Such a show could be entertaining, yet highly applicable and educational. We would probably all learn something. And perhaps have our eyes opened up to a new perspective on an issue.

Or better yet, we might actually resolve some more issues and then move on to address other ones!

 

 

From DSC:
The picture below was posted in the item below from edutopia. What a powerful picture! And not just for art or drama teachers!

Does it not once again illustrate that we are different? The lenses that we view the world through are different. Our learners are different. Each of us comes to a learning experience with different backgrounds, emotions, knowledge…and different real-life experiences.

As the article mentions, we need to create safe and supportive learning environments, where the love of (or at least the enjoyment of) learning can thrive.

 

Getting creative with social and emotional learning (SEL) — from by Maurice Elias, Sara LaHayne
How to incorporate creative expression and movement in the classroom while building social and emotional learning skills.

Excerpt:

Being creative is an inherently vulnerable process. In order to authentically build SEL competencies through creative expression, teachers need to strive to create a safe space, provide time, and open doors for validation.

  • Creating a safe and supportive classroom environment
  • Providing time
  • Opening the doors for validation

 

 

Topic Sheet – Fun Math Activities for Parents to Prevent the Summer Slide — with thanks to Jennifer Harrison for this resource
Tips and ideas for parents with young children (PreK-6) to practice math, boost skills, AND have fun

Excerpt:

Thursday, May 17, 2018 — For stories on the Summer Slide, math education experts at ORIGO Education have compiled a list of activities and resources for parents to do with their young children.?

The Summer Slide is a very real issue, especially in mathematics instruction where students lose an average of 2.6 months of learning.

Quotes
From Debi DePaul, elementary mathematics consultant from ORIGO Education

  • “Summer is an ideal time to mix fun with learning. Parents can mix up math in the kitchen, on the sidewalk, even at the beach!”
  • “All children, but especially young children, need to keep practicing math in summer. But, this practice time should be fun!”
  • “Parents can turn playtime into learning time with some simple tweaks on the classic games and toys.”
  • “The best math activities involve using multiple senses like smell and touch. This multisensory play time cements deeper understanding of fundamental math skills like recognizing proportions, estimation skills, measurement skills, and number sense.”

Additional Ideas 

  1. Download the ORIGO EducationNum Fu apps in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division for free on the App Store.
  2. Sort, Count and Stack Legos – Sort Legos by color or shape. Stack and measure height of different Lego stacks.
  3. Mix and Match Buttons – Group buttons by color. Make piles of 5 and 10 and add.
  4. Grocery Store – Make lists with quantities needed. Count and subtract from a list as items are added to the cart.
  5. Egg Carton – Mark egg carton slots 1-12. Insert two marbles, close the lid and shake. Open and add the two numbers together wherever the marbles land. Numbers can also be multiplied or subtracted.
  6. Tell time using a clock with hands.
  7. Practice adding and subtracting with Monopoly money.
  8. Use different shaped geometric shaped cookie cutters to cut and make patterns in Play-doh
  9. Sculpt 3-dimensional shapes
  10. License Plate road games: Add up total numbers or closest to a target number
  11. Play card games like Blackjack
  12. Count dots on a group of Dominos and add, match dots on groups of 2s, 3s and so on
  13. Play Cribbage
  14. Visit a museum and create number- or shape-themed scavenger hunts

 

 

From DSC regarding Virtual Reality-based apps:
If one can remotely select/change their seat at a game or change seats/views at a concert…how soon before we can do this with learning-related spaces/scenes/lectures/seminars/Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)/stage productions (drama) and more?

Talk about getting someone’s attention and engaging them!

 

 

Excerpt:

(MAY 2, 2018) MelodyVR, the world’s first dedicated virtual reality music platform that enables fans to experience music performances in a revolutionary new way, is now available.

The revolutionary MelodyVR app offers music fans an incredible selection of immersive performances from today’s biggest artists. Fans are transported all over the world to sold-out stadium shows, far-flung festivals and exclusive VIP sessions, and experience the music they love.

What MelodyVR delivers is a unique and world-class set of original experiences, created with multiple vantage points, to give fans complete control over what they see and where they stand at a performance. By selecting different Jump Spots, MelodyVR users can choose to be in the front row, deep in the crowd, or up-close-and-personal with the band on stage.

 

See their How it Works page.

 

 

With standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Go now available at an extremely accessible price point ($199), the already vibrant VR market is set to grow exponentially over the coming years. Current market forecasts suggest over 350 million users by 2021 and last year saw $3 billion invested in virtual and alternative reality.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I vote that we change the color that we grade papers — whether on paper (harcopy) or whether via digitally/electronically-based annotations — from red to green. Why? Because here’s how I see the colors:

  • RED:
    • Failure. 
    • You got it wrong. Bad job.
    • Danger
    • Stop!
    • Can be internalized as, “I’m no good at (writing, math, social studies, science, etc…..) and I’ll never be any good at it (i.e., the fixed mindset; I was born this way and I can’t change things).
  • GREEN:
    • Growth
      • As in spring, flowers appearing, new leaves on the trees, new life
      • As in support of a growth mindset
      • It helps with more positive thoughts/internalized messages: I may have got it wrong, but I can use this as a teaching moment; this feedback helps me grow…it helps me identify my knowledge and/or skills gaps
    • Health
    • Go (not stop); i.e., keep going, keep learning
    • May help develop more of a love of learning (or at least have more positive experiences with learning, vs feeling threatened or personally put down)

 

 

 

The problem with hurrying childhood learning — from edweek.org by Justin Minkel

Excerpts:

When he lectured in the United States, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget would invariably get what he called “the American question” from a member of the audience. After he had explained various developmental phases that young children go through in their understanding of concepts like length and volume, someone would raise their hand and ask, “How can we accelerate a child’s progress through the stages?”

Baffled, Piaget would explain that there is absolutely no advantage to speeding up a child’s progression. The point of knowing the stages is to be aware of what stage a child is in, so that we can create the conditions and offer the guidance to help her move to the next one. It’s not a race.

One of the most insidious results of the testing madness afflicting education has been an emphasis on speeding toward a particular outcome—a reading level, a cut score—without taking the time to ask what is sacrificed in that rush.

We need, of course, to pay attention to academic growth. It’s one thing for a child to be below grade-level or to be on a trajectory toward catching up over the next couple of years. It’s a fundamentally different situation when a child is virtually flat-lining in his progress, or is making such slow growth that if he continues at that rate, he won’t become a proficient reader in time to acquire the content and confidence he’ll need to thrive in school.

But I see too many kids who are hurried and harried toward the level they’re “supposed” to be on by the end of a given grading period, with too little attention given to the path they’re walking to get there. I see children begin to define themselves by test scores, grades, and how quickly they’re leapfrogging from one level to the next.

Here are two ways that teachers, parents, and administrators can take a deep breath and see past the timetables set by adults to the particular journeys of the children themselves.

But here’s the critical point about their progress: that growth is a positive side effect, not the end goal, of the block of time we call the “Wild Reading Rumpus.” The true purpose of that reading time is for my students to come to love reading, so that they will lead richer lives—not just in the future, when they go on to college or a career, but in the present.

 

When we celebrated their perseverance and hard work, I had children stand and be applauded not according to how high their score was, but according to how much growth they had made.

 

 

From DSC:
I just thought this was an excellent essay.

Too often K-12 education in the United States is like a run-away train. When the train’s leaving the station, you better hop on board. It waits for no one. Its speed is set. You better keep up. Good luck to those who don’t. “Best wishes!” our system cries out.

 

 

 

Students are being prepared for jobs that no longer exist. Here’s how that could change. — from nbcnews.com by Sarah Gonser, The Hechinger Report
As automation disrupts the labor market and good middle-class jobs disappear, schools are struggling to equip students with future-proof skills.

Excerpts:

In many ways, the future of Lowell, once the largest textile manufacturing hub in the United States, is tied to the success of students like Ben Lara. Like many cities across America, Lowell is struggling to find its economic footing as millions of blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, construction and transportation disappear, subject to offshoring and automation.

The jobs that once kept the city prosperous are being replaced by skilled jobs in service sectors such as health care, finance and information technology — positions that require more education than just a high-school diploma, thus squeezing out many of those blue-collar, traditionally middle-class workers.

 

As emerging technologies rapidly and thoroughly transform the workplace, some experts predict that by 2030 400 million to 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs. The ability to adapt and quickly acquire new skills will become a necessity for survival.

 

 

“We’re preparing kids for these jobs of tomorrow, but we really don’t even know what they are,” said Amy McLeod, the school’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “It’s almost like we’re doing this with blinders on. … We’re doing all we can to give them the finite skills, the computer languages, the programming, but technology is expanding so rapidly, we almost can’t keep up.”

 

 

 

For students like Amber, who would rather do just about anything but go to school, the Pathways program serves another function: It makes learning engaging, maybe even fun, and possibly keeps her in school and on track to graduate.

“I think we’re turning kids off to learning in this country by putting them in rows and giving them multiple-choice tests — the compliance model,” McLeod said. “But my hope is that in the pathways courses, we’re teaching them to love learning. And they’re learning about options in the field — there’s plenty of options for kids to try here.”

 

 

 

Schools Should Be Cathedrals of Learning — from blogs.edweek.org by Sajan George

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What may surprise us though is how the underlying elements of these beautiful designs can follow certain principles–what Goldhagen refers to as “embodied metaphors.”  These embodied metaphors suggest, reinforce, and captivate an action sequence from us that is both cognitive and non-cognitive in response.  Examples of these natural, unconscious design principles that evoke conscious responses include:

  • Natural landscapes settle a person’s elevated heart rate after just 20 seconds
  • Bright lights stimulate creativity and bright ideas
  • Closed spaces offer a sense of refuge
  • Expansive spaces invite exploration
  • Colors can heighten (red for anger) and dampen (pink for calm) emotions
  • Sharp edge surfaces suggest retreat
  • Curving surfaces suggest approach
  • Repeating patterns with respites from that same pattern can stimulate problem-solving capacity

This has profound implications for the built environments of school buildings.  Goldhagen cites one study of 34 different British schools where the six design parameters of color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light, and connectivity affected a student’s learning progress by 25 percent! The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  

The difference in learning between the best and worst designed classrooms was equal to the progress of an average student over an entire academic year.  

 

 

 

Too often, children in poverty live in dwellings that are cognitively dulling environments, often limited in natural sunlight, creative use of color, changes in texture, or sightlines to landscaping, greenery, or vegetation. Low-income housing often wrings out the least costly, most expedient design. These children of poverty often leave such home dwellings and enter school buildings and classrooms each day that are equally devoid of cognitive inspiration. Where is the inspiration in uniform rows of wooden desks and plastic chairs?

 

 

How well does your school’s built environment contribute to human flourishing?

 

 

 

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