Monday, December 21, 2009

How do your students learn?

According to World Wide Learn students learn in different ways. And no one has a better learning style than anyone else. Some experts say there are as many as seven different learning styles; but it's easier to narrow it down to three types of learning . . . we'll call them:

1. Listening learners
2. Seeing learners
3. Touch / experience learners

It's simple really. Think about one of life's earliest lessons - often taught by our mothers: The Stove Can Burn You.

1. Listening learners heard their mother, believed the information, and never touched a stove.
2. Seeing learners watched their brothers touch the stove, and never touched it.
3. Experience learners touched the stove; but only once!

The question that you might ask is, what is your point? My point is that there is no set method to use in a unit. Teachers need to know their audience. They need to get into the minds of the students immediately, the 1st day. Read what the prior teacher has to say about the student and observe for your self.

These three discussion methods do play off each other. At any point during the unit you can bring either of these into play. We don’t want to leave anyone out of the learning process , so as teachers, we should be will to try all that might work.. One goal for teachers is to reach all students where they are.

The word reflective is an adjective, meaning to reflect- to meditate, to bring back, to think over, to wonder or to ponder (Retrieved December 16, 2009 from This method of discussion is when individual students use their own knowledge, experiences, and values to decide on the question (Gabler & Schroeder, p. 23).

Exploratory provides insight into and comprehension of an issue or situation by definition . This method takes place because no definitive conclusion has been made or is clearly defined. The exploratory discussion method allows students to brainstorm forming a list of pros and cons, implications, alternatives, and emergent questions (Gabler & Schroeder (2003, p. 22).

The word directed is to have or take charge of, to control and cause forward movement, to give guidance and instruction or to supervise. The directed method of discussion is one where the teacher already knows what the conclusion is or should be. This is where the teacher poses questions for the student to answer (Gabler & Schroeder year 2003., P. 23).

The Free Dictionary (2009). Retrieved December 16, 2009 from

Gabler, I., & Schroeder, M., (2003). Constructivist Methods: For the secondary
classroom. Pearson Education, Inc.: Boston.

Memodata Corporation: Online Encyclopedia, Thesaurus, Dictionary definitions and more (2009). Retrieved December 16, 2009 from .

WorldWideLearn (2009). The world’s premier online directory of education. Retrieved December 16, 2009 from .

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For Teachers, Parapros and Other Childcare Professionals

Behaviorist Perspective:
The behaviorist theorists believe that children learn by watching other children. According to Smaldino, Lowther and Russell (2008), B. F. Skinner believed that children learn best when they are interactive with their environments. The teacher can modify or change a student’s behavior by enhancing their experiences. The behaviorist name three types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning and observational learning or modeling.

According to Gordon and Browne (2004), classical conditioning is based on the theory that a child may learn based on the stimulus provided, such as with Pavlov’s dogs (p. 140). Operant conditioning emphases the response rather than the stimulus. For example, a teacher who is a positive reinforcer may invoke a desired response by offering a reward or special treat. Whereas, a teacher who is a negative reinforcer may remove an unpleasant stimulus as a method to change a behavior. Both these conditioning methods aver that learning is based on the development of habit. “What people learn is a series of associations, forming a connection between a stimulus and response that did not exist before” (Gordon & Browne. 2004, p. 139). Observational learning or modeling is deemed “social behavior”. This type of behavior is developed when a student watches another student.

Cognitivist Perspective:
The cognitivist theory seeks to explain how learners receive and process information and how that information is perceived in light of the world. Some theorists believed that the process of thinking was borught on by heredity or by one’s natural environment. Jean Piaget (1977) researched many of the factors that can affect man’s thinking: their environment, how one solves problems or makes decisions and believed none of these affect cognitive thinking (Gordon & Brown, 2004, p. 142).

Constructivist Perspective:
These theorists believe that it is critical, “the engagement of students in meaningful experiences as the essence of experiential learning” (Smaldino et. al. 2008, p. 11). According to Gabler and Schroder (2003), the basis of the constructivist theory is that this method is critical at all levels of learning. Constructivism, here, is sparingly defined as a process that focuses on the student-centered classroom whereby students’ ideas are the legitimized. Students are encouraged to develop cognitive and problem-solving skills that may be transferred to the real world not just in recalling facts.

Social-Psychological Perspective:
The social organization of the classroom on learning.In this theory, students learn based on their social experience with their peers or their environment the causes and effects of their actions. Slavin (1990) states that “cooperative learning is both more effective and more socially beneficial than competitive and individualistic learning” (Smaldino et. al. 2008, p. 11).


Gordon, A., & Browne, K. (2004). Beginnings and beyond. Redwood City, CA: Thomson Delmar Learning.

Lowther, D., Russell, J., & Smaldino, S., (2008). Technology and media. Instructional Technology and Media for Learning (9th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.