Monday, May 23, 2011

What Is Your Learning Style?

I remember taking a learning style quiz my sophomore year in college. I would love to say that was a turning point in my academic career, but sadly I can't. In reality it started even more of a downward spiral that had already been in full effect since my freshmen year. The results of the quiz read something like, "you learn by doing". There were several students in the class who learn by reading, memorizing, and it's possible there was even one guy's quiz that said he learns simply by being in the same room as the knowledge. Those people really aggravate me. By simply hearing or seeing something one time, they will remember it for a lifetime, but I digress. It is possible that when I found out I learn by “doing” it may be been the worst thing that could have happened to me. That idea became my crutch. The simple thought that if I am not able to do this hands-on I won't learn, became my excuse. No longer did I spend hours reading textbooks. Gone were the days of paying serious attention in class. The professor was only going to talk about things, never do it. I became so wrapped up in the thought that if I want to grasp this I need to see it in action. When in reality, I should have looked at this as a challenge, not a setback. Sure, I learn best when it's hands-on, but the quiz didn't say I couldn't learn if it wasn't. As I have now been given the opportunity to be on the other side of the gradebook, I am faced with this same thought process any time an assessment draws near. What kind of exam should I give? When it comes down to it, I would love to just give a practical application exam. The problem with that is, not everyone learns like I do. However, that is a problem in itself. The idea behind the learning style quiz is to help you figure out how you learn best. What I try to do is use a curriculum that challenges all learning styles. I don’t want to be an enabler. I don’t want to allow students to put themselves in boxes. I want to help broaden their horizon. After all, isn't that what college is all about? The challenge is not only finding out how we best learn, but how we can find a way to excel when we are put in an environment that doesn’t cater to our specific learning style.

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