Before the advent of the public education system, student motivation was not a big concern for educators. In order to learn, students actually had to seek out their education in the form of tutoring or apprenticeship. Logically, any student who would take the time and effort to do so already had a great deal of motivation to learn their chosen subject. As modern policy makers introduced compulsory education as well as a predetermined mandatory curriculum, student’s motivation became one of the most critical issues facing modern educators. Whereas before, students chose when and what they learned, the modern education system forces kids to learn about subjects toward which they may have no natural inclination. Continue reading
In the mid 1980s, the course of longtime educator Roger Schank’s career changed forever. A professor of computer science and Artificial Intelligence (AI), he radically shifted focus when his own children began their careers as students. His professional work up to that point had been devoted to developing a successful system by which computers could be programed to learn. When his children entered the education system he noticed that, while he was trying to teach computers how to learn, the schools were merely teaching his children how to pass. Schank became increasingly horrified with how little learning actually occurred in these supposedly “educational” environments and devoted the rest of his life to correcting this fundamental problem. The solution, he believes, is learning with computers.
In 1983 Howard Gardner published his first book on a subject that would revolutionize the way we understand human beings to understand, process and learn new information. “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”, published by Basic Books, details seven identifiable forms of multiple intelligence (MI), revealing the various ways human beings think, learn and understand the world around them. With the help of LDPride.net, I’ve included a brief break down of the seven types of MI, which inform us of the different ways we understand students to learn:
The ability to visualize using spatial or visual elements. These learners tend to think using pictures, graphs, videos and movies, retaining information most efficiently when vivid mental images are integrated as part of the educational experience.
The ability to use words and language using highly developed auditory skills. These learners tend to think in words as opposed to pictures. These students are keen listeners, strong readers, writers and storytellers. They are particularly adept at remembering information, conveying knowledge and convincing others of their point of view. They learn best by taking notes, listening to lectures and discussing what they have learned.
According to a study on information retention rates of students, J.J Lagowski’s article in the Journal of Chemical Education has yielded surprising results in the graph below. Lagowski found that compared to traditional models in education the key to the most effective way students learn is marked by
- Less of a reliance on face-to-face teaching
- Greater reliance on high quality learning.
Parents and teachers alike need not worry. Findings reveal that students don’t have to be in the classroom to learn the subjects covered in class; they just need to be engaged in ways that are interactive. Traditional classroom teaching that center around lectures mean students on average will retain 26% of what they hear. This is not a comforting statistic for lecture heavy classes, keeping in mind students will retain only 26% of what they “hear” in the 20 minutes that they actually pay attention. Notes displayed on the board in class during lecture only represents an added 4% to the information students retain, with students remembering “30% of what they see”.
What does this reveal about the be key to learning? Students must be engaged, key to this is classroom participation and group activities where students “say, as they do”, to demonstrate learning. This is a strategy Lagowski registers as having a 90% rate of retention in what students learn. Teaching strategies in school must then center on “cooperative learning groups in class” and employ “flexible teaching opportunities”.