POST 64: LEARNING STYLES

When teaching a creative, I ensure that different learning styles are catered for. Learning styles are the way individuals characteristically acquire, attain and retrieve information (Felder & Silverman, 1988). To initially engage students in learning, set-tasks within the work plan utilise whichever learning style maximises understanding. Planning was organised to ensure all learning styles were managed within each task. Through the work scheme learners develop to use the most task-relevant learning style.

Engaging learning rather than direct teaching is the essence of cognitive constructivism, where students build on prior learning (Cohen, et al., 2002). When introducing a short dance sequence it is essential all learners understand the context. In line with Kolb’s and Fleming’s learning theories the theme ‘time’ acts as a starting point to develop movements/rhythms/performance in an ordered learning cycle. Individuals attain assessment criteria if it matches pre-learned behaviour, emulates a theme or involves them in directing learning. To introduce the choreographed-sequence in lesson-1, video-clips of clock mechanisms are shown and developed by clips of dancers matching these movements. Learners reflect on observations during discussion/written evaluations and brainstorm descriptive words to link clock-mechanisms to movements. Divergent-thinkers with strong visual skills generate movement ideas from the various time-themed perspectives. Assimilators develop abstract concepts based on the theme and construct written/mental reference models for further development. This should induce cognitive links between clock-mechanism stimuli and movements required.

Learners require concrete experience to participate fully in the task. Video-clips initiate visual/auditory aspects of required movement, ticking-clocks provide strong tempo/rhythm. Assimilators incorporate new stimuli into theoretical models to direct movements. Clapping/walking to ticking-clocks creates auditory/kinaesthetic stimuli. Convergers cope with formulating and practically testing movements emulating the pace/rhythm/style of the clock-ticking. Accommodators develop when reacting to problem-solving tasks, displaying aptitude when devising kinaesthetic mechanisms to walk in tempo/direction with clean-lines resembling clock-hands. Imagery/clapping activate responses characteristic of triplet-steps appealing to divergent learners. Tutor-led steps representing ticks/chimes guide basic triplet movement. Accommodators react to visual/auditory stimuli and problem-solve movements kinaesthetically and convergers practically apply movement based on interpreting ticks/chimes. Learners develop at different rates by passive/active involvement and reflective thinking. To accommodate this, sequences are taught in accumulative stages to interpret movements and imagery, respond to questioning and find solutions. These stimuli-response activities reinforce set movements.

When moving clock-wise as a class, individuals’ movement patterns are instinctively influenced as they become aware of peers. This task appeals to multimodal learners who benefit from several learning styles without boredom caused by repeating learning intentions in different styles. Gardiner describes this as developing interpersonal intelligence (Gardiner, 1983). To ensure movements maintain time-themed imagery the group are encouraged to use strong arm-lines accenting clock-hands.

All learners develop as a result of exposure to visual/auditory/kinaesthetic/read-write stimuli which are the basis of Fleming’s VARK model. Developing key movements individually focuses learners on practicing in their preferred style. Combining these movements in group-sequences encourages reciprocal learning using less preferred styles and interpersonal skills. Introduction of new movements requiring technical alignment and positioning with performance draw on all learning styles to solve physical problems.

 

Tutor-narrative and visual demonstration, written feedback continuously command and reinforce clock-mechanisms and give opportunity to practice sharp and dynamic movements. Accommodators should learn quickly by reacting to instruction and work kinaesthetically to intuitively link command and performance. The tutor must provide imagery and explanation to guide discovery of the appropriate movements of convergers. The theoretical imagery created in prior tasks allows assimilators to logically link instruction to movements. A logical development of the sequence using clock-like movements which link in an ordered manner and teaching, marking then performing the new sequence will allow assimilators to build a mental model which can be developed in practice. Demonstration of the movement and imagery will enable divergent learners to understand why movements link with the clock theme. The tutor must consider learners ideas to develop choreography.

Observing/performing choreography benefits all learning styles as participants are physically/cognitively involved, reflect on observed experiences and create concepts based on observations to suggest direction for developments. Learners preferring read/write tasks recall peer comments and develop critical-skills by transferring thoughts to text to self-evaluate. Encouraging all learning styles develops divergent learning needed in further tasks.

Although learning styles direct learning, it is overly simplistic to assign any one learning style as they are based on perceptual preferences. Teaching using various stimuli ultimately allows learners to select style suited to task. Designing instruction with desired breadth to accommodate Kolb’s learning styles is referred to as ‘teaching round the cycle’ (Felder, 1996). This task follows this model and therefore aims to improve motivation and appropriate responses during teaching and learning.

 

 

References:

 

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2004) A Guide to teaching practice. RoutledgeFalmer.

 

Felder, R.M., (1996) Matters of style. ASEE Prism, 6 (4), 18-23

URL: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/LS-Prism.html

Last accessed: 19.03.13

 

Felder, R.M. & Silverman, L.K. (1988) Learning and teaching styles in Engineering Education, Engineering Education. 78 (7), 674-681.

 

Gardiner, H (1983) Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences    http://www.businessballs.com/howardgardnermultipleintelligences.htm   Last accessed: 19.03.13

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