They learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. Written information may have little meaning until it is heard. These learners often benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.
Cognitive conflict occurs when a learner recognises inconsistencies between existing beliefs and observed events. This happens, for example, when a learner completes a task using more than one method and arrives at conflicting answers. Research has shown that such conflicts, when resolved through reflective discussion, lead to more permanent learning than conventional, incremental teaching methods, which seek to avoid learners making ‘mistakes’.
This is a situation where the teacher gives too much information or too many tasks to learners simultaneously, resulting in the learner being unable to process this information. Learners find it difficult to decide what content is truly important and essential and what is not. When people are presented with too much content, some of that content does not make it into their long-term memory due to capacity problems in short-term memory and processing difficulties. If learners’ eyes start to ‘glaze over’ they may well be suffering from cognitive overload!
This type of teaching emphasises the interconnected nature of the subject and it is challenging because it confronts common difficulties through careful explanation rather than attempts to avoid them. Problems are presented before explanations are offered. Learning is a collaborative activity in which learners are challenged and arrive at understanding through discussion.
This is often characterised by tick lists and can-do statements. The teacher asks closed questions such as “Can you do this….?”, in order to ascertain whether or not the learner knows, understands or can do a predetermined thing. This is the type of assessment mostly used in written tests.
Speakers build positively but uncritically on what each other has said. This is typically characterised by repetitions, confirmations and elaborations.
A diagnostic test is a test that helps the teacher and learners identify problems with a particular subject or topic. Diagnostic tests are often used with adult learners at the start of a course in order to inform the teacher about what needs to be covered in the syllabus.
Progress tests given during a course can also act as diagnostic tests as they help the teacher and learner identify what areas will be looked at next on the course.
Obviously this has a particular mathematical meaning! However, in terms of teaching approaches it means responding to the different needs of all the learners. For example:
Differentiation by quantity – giving more work to more successful learners
Differentiation by task – giving different tasks to different learners, depending on their individual learning needs
Differentiation by level of support – giving all learners the same task but then offering different levels of support depending on needs that become apparent
Differentiation by outcome – using open activities that encourage a variety of possible outcomes and offer learners the opportunity to set themselves appropriate challenges.
This consists of disagreement and individual decision-making. There are few attempts to pool resources or to offer constructive criticism of suggestions. It is characterised by short exchanges consisting of assertions and counter-assertions.
This involves the teacher asking open questions such as “Show me what you know about…”. Such questions allow learners the opportunities to describe and explain what they know, understand or can do. The outcome is not predetermined. Some examples of divergent assessment strategies are:
Learners respond to sets of open questions using individual mini- whiteboards
Learners produce posters to summarise what they know about a given topic or alternative approaches to solving a given problem
Learners interview each other about what they have learned
Learners correct and comment on work produced by other learners
Speakers work on and elaborate each other’s reasoning in a collaborative rather than competitive atmosphere. Exploratory talk enables reasoning to become audible and knowledge becomes publicly accountable. It is characterised by critical and constructive exchanges. Challenges are justified and alternative ideas are offered. This is the most helpful kind of talk.
This type of assessment forms an integral and on-going part of all learning. It involves evaluation of student learning that aids understanding and development of knowledge, skills and abilities and can take many forms. For example: listening in to a group discussion, asking open questions, getting learners to assess each other’s work, getting learners to produce posters. Formative assessment recognises achievements and difficulties at the beginning of or during a course, so that teachers and learners can plan appropriate action.
Interpersonal learning style
People with this learning style communicate well with people, both verbally and non-verbally. They are sensitive to other people and listen well and understand others’ views. They typically prefer learning in groups or classes and like to learn by bouncing thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond. They prefer to work through issues, ideas and problems with a group.
Some characteristic phrases of such learners are:
Let’s work together on this
Help me understand this
Tell me what you are thinking
Let’s explore our options
Intrapersonal learning style
People with this learning style work best alone. They pursue their own interests and have a deep understanding of themselves. They take pride in being independent and original and do best in self paced instruction, individualised projects and working alone. They often need to be encouraged to socialise.
Some characteristic phrases of such learners are:
Kinaesthetic learners learn best by ‘doing’ and from ‘hands-on’ activities. They concentrate better and learn more easily when movement is involved. They need to apply the information and make it their own by constructing something or practising a technique or skill. Some characteristics are:
Taking notes, drawinig pictures or doodling whilst listening
Remembering best what they did themselves
Memorising by walking and seeing
Enjoying ‘hands-on’ activities and group interaction
This is the art or profession of being a teacher. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction.
Social learning style
This is the same as the interpersonal learning style.
This is used to summarise and record overall achievement at the end of a course and tends to be used for promotion and certification. Most tests and external examinations are designed for this purpose. Summative assessment is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular course, teaching method, or even an institution.
This is what traditional teaching methods tend to be. Methods are explained to learners one step at a time and explanations are given before problems are presented. Teachers only question learners in order to lead them in a particular direction or to check they are following the taught procedure and misunderstandings are corrected. Learners are expected to achieve fluency through practising these methods on lists of graded exercises. Transmission methods can appear superficially effective when short-term recall is required but they are less effective for longer-term learning.
This is a simple strategy, which is effective at all stages of education. It is a very versatile structure, which has been adapted and used, in an endless number of ways. It is useful in developing co-operative learning. It helps to develop information processing, communication and thinking and uses skills of sharing information, listening, asking questions, summarising others’ ideas and paraphrasing.
The steps of the strategy are:
The teacher poses a problem or asks an open-ended question to which there may be a variety of answers.
The teacher gives the learners ‘think time’ and directs them to think about the question.
Following the ‘think time’ learners move into pairs and work together, sharing ideas, discussing, clarifying and challenging.
The pair then share their ideas with another pair, or with the whole class. It is important that learners need to be able to share their partner’s ideas as well as their own.