How Math Is Used In The Real World Background Information Learning Styles for Non-Traditional Students

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Learning Styles for Non-Traditional Students

Constructivism is a philosophy of learning based on the premise that by reflecting on our own experiences we build our own understanding of the world in which we live. It is an active process in which students construct new ideas or concepts based on their present and/or past. knowledge I believe that this theory of learning is fundamental to adult learners as they have generated knowledge from prior experience. Learning is contextual and knowledge is necessary to learn.

According to Understanding Learning Styles (2008), there are several guiding principles of constructivism which are listed below:

(1) Preparation: Teaching must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the learner willing and able to learn.

(2) Spiral Organization: Instruction should be structured in such a way that the student can easily understand.

(3) Going beyond the information provided: Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and/or gap filling.

(4) Learning involves language and the language we use influences learning. Empirically, researchers have observed that people talk to themselves while learning. At a more general level, there is a collection of arguments that language and learning are irremediably intertwined.

(5) The crucial act of constructing meaning is mental. Physical actions and hands-on experience may be necessary for learning, but they are not sufficient. We must offer activities that involve the mind and the hands. (Dewey called this reflective activity.)

(6) Learning is a social activity. Our learning is intimately associated with our connection with others.

(7) It takes time to learn. Learning is not instantaneous. For meaningful learning we need to review ideas, reflect on them, try them out, play with them and use them.

Constructivism calls for the elimination of a standardized curriculum; promotes the use of curricula tailored to students’ prior knowledge and emphasizes practical problem solving. Under this theory, educators focus on making connections between facts and fostering new understanding in students. Instructors adapt their teaching strategies to student responses and encourage students to think critically and rely heavily on open-ended questions that promote extensive dialogue among students (Hein, 1991). I believe that this theory of learning is best suited for teaching non-traditional students as they bring a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to the classroom. They have real-world experiences that everyone can learn from.

Brain-based learning theory is based on the structure and function of the brain, and I think it’s another theory that is very suitable for adult learners. The reality is that everyone learns; however, traditional schooling often inhibits learning by discouraging, ignoring, or punishing the brain’s natural learning process. The basic principles of brain-based learning are:

(1) The brain can perform several activities at the same time;

(2) Learning involves all of physiology;

(3) Emotions are central to modeling;

(4) The brain processes wholes and parts simultaneously;

(5) Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception, and both conscious and unconscious processes;

(6) We understand better when facts are embedded in spatial and natural memory; and,

(7) Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.

Gagne (1985) states that the three instructional techniques associated with brain-based learning are:

(1) Orchestrated Immersion: Creating learning environments that fully immerse students in an educational experience;

(2) Relaxed alertness: trying to remove students’ fear, maintaining a very challenging environment; i

(3) Active processing: allows the student to consolidate and internalize information by actively processing it.

With these three techniques in mind, teachers need to design learning around student interests and make learning contextual. Students must learn in teams and use peripheral learning, and teachers must structure learning around real problems that encourage students to learn in environments outside the classroom as well. It makes sense that adult students, especially non-traditional students, learn best using this theory. While teaching management classes a few years ago, I used this method without even realizing it. My students were all non-traditional students, most of them worked full-time and took night classes, while some of them were single parents in addition to working full-time. During each class period, we would discuss real-life problems and situations encountered in the workplace, and students would be placed in groups to evaluate, brainstorm, and come up with solutions. The experiences and knowledge these students would come back with were incredible. They learned best by solving realistic problems and the feedback was amazing, all because it came from reality and not from an authority figure.

Right brain vs left brain As a left-handed person, I have sometimes been at a disadvantage in the “right-handed world” and have had to make a concerted effort to conform in some cases. The “right brain vs. left brain” theory has always intrigued me, and I’ve realized that it’s not only true for hand control, but also for different ways of thinking. The differences between left brain and right brain thinking are:

Left Brain: Logical; sequential; rational; Analytics; Goal; Look at the parts

Right brain: random; Intuitive; Holistic; Synthesizing/Subjective: Look at the wholes

Most people have a definite preference for one of these thinking styles. In general, schools tend to favor left-brained thinking modes (right-handed people) while minimizing right-brained students (left-handed people). Left-brained school subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and precision, while right-brained subjects focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity. As a left-handed person, I can fully vouch that I am right-handed!

To be more “intellectual” (that is, equally skilled in both modalities), schools must give equal weight to the arts and to the skills of imagination and synthesis. Instructors should use techniques that connect with both sides of the brain; for non-traditional students this is especially important as they have a more holistic view of the world and tend to look more at the whole while being logical and analytical.

Robert Gagne’s theory of learning conditions. Gagne distinguishes between two types of conditions, internal and external. Internal conditions include attention, motivation, and recall; external conditions include factors surrounding the behavior itself, such as the arrangement and timing of stimulus events. He created a nine-step process called “the instructional events” to address learning conditions. They include:

(1) Attract attention;

(2) Inform students of the objectives;

(3) Stimulate the memory of previous learning;

(4) Present the content;

(5) Provide guidance for learning;

(6) Obtain performance (practice);

(7) Provide feedback;

(8) Evaluate performance; i

(9) Improve retention and transfer to the workplace (Understanding learning styles).

This theory is the best way to ensure an effective learning program. Programs with “glitz and glitter” may look great, but they do not always maximize the effectiveness of information processing. If processing does not occur, learning does not occur. This is especially good for instructional technology where skills are critical. When using this teaching method, skills must be learned independently and must be built upon previously acquired skills. The analysis phase must identify and describe the lower-level skills and knowledge required for an individual educational objective. Only when lower level objectives have been mastered can the next level be taught. Positive reinforcement should be used repetitively at all times.

This is the best theory to use when teaching motor skills. The design of instruction must involve the analysis of requirements, the selection of media to be used, and the design of instructional events. The instructor must consider the concepts of learning when developing instructional methods using this theory and motivate learners along the way.

The above theories are what I believe are most appropriate for non-traditional students. In today’s age of instant information, why do we continue to educate our students as if we are preparing them for a life of assembly line work? The Industrial Revolution is in the past and a distant memory. Today’s students need to learn the skills that will help them in today’s job market and society. They must learn to make wise decisions, work well with others, and sift through large amounts of information.

As management expert Peter Drucker said, “Nothing is more practical than a good theory.” Theories can tell us not only what should be done, but also what can be done and the process by which it can be achieved. There are many theories available and it is up to us as educators to choose the one that best suits our students.

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