Sunday, October 13, 2013

Learning My Learning

As was suggested, I tried directly discussing learning styles with a student. This particular student, “Martin” came to me with a brainstormed paragraph outlining a paper for a 2000-level class in the humanities. We talked through his ideas, and he made notes extending his paper and his thoughts. I said, “You seem to learn well through reading and writing things down.”
“Naw,” he said. “I usually never write things down. I just think about ‘em a lot.” I laughed, and told him that I often do my first draft in a similar fashion. Both of us would think through our ideas and have a lot of the work done mentally before we ever even sit down to write. He had never been told that this is a valid method, so long as the writer actually gets out of his / her head and sits in front of the computer.

For other students, who are not so obviously verbally oriented, I will sketch out diagrams or basic pictorial representations of a concept. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes students are just too overwhelmed with their academic survival to think about and process the concept of learning styles. However, if we just inject a couple of thoughts about learning styles, students may begin to think about the topic when they have time and are cognitively prepared for the sort of self-reflection involved. 

Personally, I have a verbal learning style when it comes to academics. I like to read, think, and when possible discuss topics before diving into writing. The problem is that I too often get drawn into the research and reading. I can get so far away from my original idea, with so many connections that I get lost down the rabbit hole in the weeds, as Dr. Rogers might say. Recognizing my own learning style, and the strengths and weaknesses of it helps me stay focused and productive in my studies. 


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