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Learning Styles

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
55 messages over 7 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6
Cainntear
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 Message 49 of 55
06 October 2010 at 7:58pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
If those people who a paid to do pedagogical research can't or won't deliver a wellfounded checklist and a repertoire of methods with a proven effect on pupils with different profiles, then the alternative is to use common sense.

But it's not just that there's no checklist, it's that even the effects of "common sense", when measured, do not show the results claimed.

This is not "common sense", it's a faith position!

Iversen wrote:
If a certain teacher's ideas about common sense means that everyone has to be taught by the same methods then my common sense would indicate that such a teacher such be avoided like the plague. Luckily most of the teachers I remember from my longgone childhood and study years did recognize individual differences, and most teachers used a variety of methods, but I do remember a few individuals who never should have had that job.

Did the teachers really deliver radically different lessons to different sections of the class? What did you do while they were teaching the auditory learners? Did you plug your ears?

Or are you saying that the teachers would explain points individually to pupils who were having problems understanding?

No-one is suggesting that there is no such thing as individual differences -- that would be crazy.

If you were a chemistry teacher and you had a bunch of monolingual anglophone kids in one class and a bunch of Latin-literate heptaglots in the other, the fact that the first class will have trouble with technical nomenclature while the second won't is no surprise, and there is no need to attribute that to style -- only to prior knowledge.

Ausubel, the cognitive theorist, put forward an idea in 1960 he called the "advance organizer". The backgroun to the idea was the theory that the brain stores related information by relationships (which is how you say you explore vocabulary). If the learner's brain doesn't have any related data to hand, you prime it by building a structure that they can then relate the new information to -- the teacher organises the brain in advance to prepare it for new data.
For a particular idea, some learners won't need advance organisers at all, and some won't respond to a particular advance organiser. But that's all down to prior knowledge, not style.

Differences in prior knowledge are undeniable and fairly predictable. We can identify them and account for them, and they can explain a hell of a lot of learner differences.

Learner style questionnaires are ineffective because they don't identify anything that can be applied to improve the learning experience.

So why is "style" common sense?

Edited by Cainntear on 06 October 2010 at 8:29pm

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maydayayday
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 Message 50 of 55
06 October 2010 at 8:51pm | IP Logged 
Its often quoted on this forum that 'everyone learns a native language' I am, of course, paraphrasing and eliminating the seriously mentally deficient though some 'savants' are phenomenal language learners so I don't believe they are really deficient.

My thought is that we should investigate the best means to accelerate this process; I dont want to wait five years to read Polish like a five year old.
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Tyr
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Sweden
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 Message 51 of 55
06 October 2010 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
Ref 1
Int 3
Vis 7
Glo 7

So...yeah, what I already knew, I'm a visual big picture sort of guy.,
The trouble is- I have all the artistic ability of a deformed watervole and aren't good at drawing big colourful maps of things to learn. So doesn't help me much.
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Iversen
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 Message 52 of 55
06 October 2010 at 11:53pm | IP Logged 
Cainntear wrote:
So why is "style" common sense?


You recognize individual differences, but you don't accept that these can reflect anything more than superficial opinions or habits caused by random life experiences. So for you "style" can obviously not be common sense. Ok, so be it.

I look around me and see people who are fundamentally different from each other, and any attempt to systematize these differences inevitably will lead to some notion of styles. For me common sense is to see the differences and take them seriously. The 'null hypothesis' isn't that there are no styles, but that there are the styles I can see whenever I open my eyes.

Of course many learners are somewhere in the middle, and for them it may not be a problem to have a teacher who doesn't believe in styles (which in itself is a style or the outcome of a style). But for those who are slightly more extreme in one or more directions having such a teacher can be a disaster.

And yes, I have walked out on a couple of teachers whose methods, attitude and personality I couldn't accept.

On the contrary the best of my teachers did take my self-study oriented methods seriously. One example of this was my math teacher in high school (gymnasiet) with whom I formally struck the deal that that he was welcome to ask me any question he wanted provided that he gave me a sign first - otherwise I wouldn't hear the question because I always was totally engulfed in my own small mathematical projects. Or my music teacher in public school who once asked why I didn't take over the teaching if I had so many comments to everything she had to say about musical instruments. OK, I did - for two weeks I explained the character, use and technique of the instruments of the classical symphony orchestra while she sat among the pupils and posed me questions (but she kept the salary).

Ok... those were the extremes, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Thanks to Cainntear (and Ausubel) for the notion of "advance organizer" - it seems to cover quite precisely what I do when I study grammar. I like this expression!

And also thanks to Tyr for cutting through all our theoretical discussions and doing some practical measurements - with or without confirmation from the clergy of pedagogical science.


Edited by Iversen on 07 October 2010 at 12:36am

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carlonove
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United States
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 Message 53 of 55
07 October 2010 at 1:21am | IP Logged 
Cainntear wrote:
I maintain that any sorting or memorisation occurs prior to the learning process and is not actually a part of it.



Cainntear wrote:
You can cram a lot more using visual information, but we all know that cramming and memorisation aren't learning.


I fail to see how memorizing words is not part of the learning process, and I think the position that cramming and memorization aren't learning is far from universal and quite extreme. If directly memorizing words didn't result in people learning those words, nobody would do it.

Edited by carlonove on 07 October 2010 at 1:22am

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Cainntear
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 Message 54 of 55
07 October 2010 at 2:15pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I look around me and see people who are fundamentally different from each other, and any attempt to systematize these differences inevitably will lead to some notion of styles. For me common sense is to see the differences and take them seriously. The 'null hypothesis' isn't that there are no styles, but that there are the styles I can see whenever I open my eyes.

The null hypothesis is that there are individual learner differences.

The hypothesis that you can generalise these differences across learners to produce a "style" that can be applied meaningfully and consistently remains unproven.

So to turn the debate on its head -- you suggest that teachers who ignore learning styles disrespect the individual differences between learners, whereas I would say that pigeon-holing learners into any sort of types or categories is the thing that denies individual differences more than anything.
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Iversen
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 Message 55 of 55
07 October 2010 at 9:22pm | IP Logged 
I see your point. Let's rest this discussion - at the current (low) level of scientific investigation we can't get much further.



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