Secondary learning
Secondary learning

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2.6 Learning styles

The concept of ‘learning styles’ has been described as students’ ‘tendency to adopt a particular strategy in learning’ (Mutiu and Moldovan, 2011, p. 578) based on their personal characteristics, and suggests that different modes of learning suit different students. It has also been termed ‘learning preferences’ or ‘learning strategies’.

Some people believe that these ideas have implications for the classroom because a student’s preferred learning style may affect the way in which they respond to your teaching. Various schemes have been suggested and are popular in schools. However, despite the popularity of the concept of learning styles, there is very little evidence to support the idea that learners learn more effectively if they have the opportunity to learn in their preferred style (Petty, 2009). You will consider this evidence in the next activity.

Activity 6 Learning styles

Timing: Allow about 1 hour

Watch the TED talk video below by Tesia Marshik.

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Note your thoughts in response to this talk as it progresses. What strategies would you use to help learners ‘make meaning’ in your subject?

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There are many theories about learning and this section has touched on a few of the more established ones. The theories of learning described in this section not only suggest how this might be achieved but also provide a framework to help you to reflect on practice. No single theory should be regarded as ‘right’; in different contexts, with different topics, with a particular group of students, all have something to offer.

As a teacher, your responsibility is to support your students to learn. You can’t make them learn – that is up to them – but you can draw on the various theories of learning in order to create the conditions in which learning is likely to take place. New theories are emerging. For example, in recent years there has been a great deal of focus on neuroscience and what happens in the brain when learning takes place. This is an area that is advancing fast and is controversial. The concepts of ‘learning without limits’ and ‘growth mindsets’ have also impacted on views about learning. The Further reading section provides links and references that might interest you.

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