Bang ON Learning
"They didn't do the reading, they don't remember the reading and they
don't understand the reading are the only assumptions you should ever make about students"- Bang 2012
"Humor is the chocolate syrup of lecturing"- Bang 2011
"Talk, ask and listen. You'll be surprised at what you learn!"- Bang 2012
"Nothing beats a field trip for hands on learning"- Bang 2010
"When it comes to academic misconduct a ton of prevention
beats an ounce of enforcement"- Bang 2012
"To be a winning professor you need to be a winning coach"- Bang 2011
"If you want students to participate load up on carrots and put the stick away"- Bang 2011
"To help students experience real life assignments should
be based on real experiences"- Bang 2010
"Ask and they shall engage"- Bang 2009
"Show and tell should be heavy on showing and light on telling"- Bang 2011
"You and your subject are not the most important things in your student's lives"- Bang 2011
"If it can't be applied it doesn't need to be taught"- Bang 2010
"Most students don't understand the importance of attending graduation
until the ceremony is over. Encourage them to participate
and be there to cheer for them!"- Bang 2011
"They won't believe you read their paper unless you write a comment on it, always start with a positive one"- Bang 2012
"They hate role plays as much as you hate watching them,
simulations are way more fun"- Bang 2012
"I'm gonna learn you something today if it kills me!"- Bang 2009
Early in my career at the Bank I took a course in Human Dynamics and became aware of the three primary learning styles and that most of us prefer one learning style over the others. Auditory learners enjoy listening to a lecture while visual learners prefer colorful power point slides, pictures and videos. And let's not forget the kinesthetic learners who like to be actively involved in the learning process through discussions, live and/or simulated exercises. Initially I learned that only about 20% of people were auditory learners while the remaining 80% of the population was split relatively evenly between visual and kinesthetic so I have always tried to create lesson plans that engage all three styles of learning through lecture, discussion and visual aid.
The thought occurred to me that it would be interesting to know the actual percentage breakdown of learning style preferences within each of my classes and if these numbers changed significantly depending on the subject being taught. I developed a small learning style test which I give to each of my classes at the beginning of the term to help me align my lesson plans to the learning styles within the classes. The test goes something like this: I ask the students to picture themselves being given the latest communication device (the I-phone 10 for example). The device comes with several formats of operating instruction including a large written manual, a DVD to watch and an MP3 version of the manual you can listen to. I ask the students to vote on each of the options including a fourth option of ignoring the material provided and playing with the new device until you get it to work (the kinesthetic learner's favorite process). The results of most of my surveys differ significantly from what I was first told. I consistently find that less than 5% of my students prefer auditory learning, about 25% are visual learners and the remaining 70% are decidedly kinesthetic.
So what does all this tell me? Well the "sage on the stage" lecture format could be missing the mark with up to 95% of the students. Visual support would appear to be important for at least 25% of the students, either in the form of power point slides or hand writing on the board. The majority of the students prefer some form of interaction where they are actually involved in facilitating their own learning. To this extent I have incorporated group exercises, cases and simulations in my classes to stimulate the vast majority of my students. I still deliver some of my material through lectures and I still provide power-point slide support however my lectures are shorter and often take the form of open discussions allowing the kinesthetic learners to participate and arrive at their own conclusions.
Regardless of a student's preferred learning style they all have something basic in common and that is the desire to retain only the information that is relevant to their future success. I constantly strive to demonstrate, through story-telling, the relevance of the material I am teaching and how it can be applied in a real world situation. Our ultimate goal is for the students to be successful in their chosen field and to do so by applying the material they have obtained in our classes. Material that cannot be applied does not need to be taught as it will not help the student in the future. I refer to this concept as "being real" and I incorporate this into my assignments and evaluations. I seldom test a student on pure memory work as I much prefer to give them a life situation and ask how they will address it using the concepts learned in class. Sure it takes me longer to mark the assignments and examms however the final product is much more interesting to read and I find that the student's results are significantly higher.