Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog 6: Picking up on learning styles

Blog 6: Picking up on learning styles/Shelley Williams

I have always been interested in finding ways to help myself and others learn better, and learning about and implementing different learning styles as adapted for students/tutees individually is precisely what we have to do to help us be effective tutors and to help them be effective learners (of any subject as well as of their own metacognition). I have found that I am a visual/non-verbal learner as my number one preference, and do learn that way best. Additionally though, I am kinetic and symbolic (the latter not listed as a learning style, but one which is named in learning modalities these days). My final assessment of my own learning style(s), and everyone's for that matter, is that we will always have a first preference, but that, as learning style theory supports, the more senses an individual can use to learn a new topic/subject/skill, the more quickly and solidly will he/she master it.

"Half the battle of being in college is learning how to learn, learning how you best learn." I can think of numerous recent instances when these words have come tumbling out of my mouth this semester as I've tutored tutees. And it's true. When all is said and done, what is said in class by the instructor, and what is done by the student as process and product in/for a given class are inextricably linked. The more learner-friendly the teacher can be by introducing various assignments that implement application of various learning styles, the better off students will be because some one assignment will speak "just right" to a student while another assignment or way of explaining it will speak to another in Goldilocks fashion. HOWEVER, given we do not live in an ideal world where all instructors even know their own learning style(s), arming a student with recognition of their own metacognition (learning style), is essentially tantamount to teaching them how to fish versus fishing for them.

In short, their instructor(s) may be poor fishermen, but once learners/tutees/fishers of knowledge have tapped into their own brains and behavioral observance for their learning styles, they have begun the journey of how they best learn and can ever after crack the academic code of any given course for themselves (using all other available resources in some cases as well). No worm dangled, no fish caught. We have to dangle the worm of metacognition in front of beginning writers, but ultimately, they will not need us for that later on, and making ourselves as tutors indispensable for some things is important, but for other things like metacognition, making ourselves obsolete is our job.


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