How to Help Subject Matter Experts Meet the Needs of Different Learning Styles

This series of articles by Francisco De Armas Costas began by identifying five challenges involved in encouraging SMEs to use participatory learning activities: to help them: (1) recognize the value of participatory learning activities; (2) become open to the idea of actually using participatory activities; (3) see that participatory activities are not necessarily difficult to design; (4) learn how to select appropriate activities; and (5) become comfortable with facilitating participatory activities.

The previous article began to address the fourth challenge: How to help SMEs learn how to select appropriate activities. That article discussed two of the  three key factors that impact the decision regarding which learning activity to use.

This article continues that discussion by addressing the last factor:

 

3. The need to use a variety of participatory activities to meet the needs of different learning styles as well as keep the learners engaged.

To assist SMEs with the third factor, introduce the idea of different learning styles.

Ask the SMEs how they prefer to learn. Very often, SMEs will say that they prefer hands on exercises, demonstrations, or reading. A few might indicate a preference for lecture. If there are several SMEs involved, it will become apparent that they have different preferences. Build on this fact by explaining that individuals have different learning styles.

To keep the discussion as simple as possible, use the basic model of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning styles. Explain that auditory learners learn by listening, visual learners learn by reading and observing, and kinesthetic learners learn by moving and moving their bodies. After the model is clear, relate each SME's preference to one of these specific learning styles.

Make sure that the SMEs are actually listening to and understanding the instructions as you are speaking them. Make sure that the SMEs are identifying the kind of environment in which the participants will learn and/or function. Is it classroom or is it a computer laboratory?

Make the SMEs aware of the different ways in which they can learn.

 might include: textbooks, online tutorials, and written course notes.

The SMEs will also need to know what kind of learning style they prefer to engage in. This will be particularly helpful for the SMEs who prefer to learn as they go through courses.

Information for the SMEs

The following information may be of great help to the SMEs:

Understanding and observing a learning style

An individual's learning style is often identified through and informed by his or her choice of teachers. Rather than assuming that one is like all others, it is valuable to understand one's learning style to become more aware of one's strengths as well as possibilities for improvement.

Knowing the different kinds of learning style

The three primary types of learning style are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual Learners need to see the teacher's body language and facial expressions to fully understand and integrate the lesson content. An auditory learner hears information best through listening to the words of the teacher. Lastly, kinesthetic learners prefer to be in an environment that supports their feelings and allows them to move and physically explore the subject matter.

Mnemonics and brain gym

Mnemonics is a system of learning that associates specific strings of words with specific categories of skills and knowledge. For example, each word in a sentence is connected to a specific muscle groups and actions.Brain Gym is a term used to describe processes of improving learning, memory, and thinking. Brain Gym principles are based on the principle of Learning = Activity. The more an individual learns, the more activity his brain will have and the better it will be to use it.

Learning activities and the brain

Learning activities have to do with exactly what is learned. Brain activities refer to those things that go on during the learning process itself. When one learns something, the brain is turning points into learning events. The brain knows that it does not learn something over night. It is a well known fact that babies have great capacity for learning and that as long as their mother stays in the scene, learning will continue.

The human brain is very active and learning incorporates a great deal of brain energy. The more brains an individual uses, the more he or she can learn. Adults and children think differently as well. They have different styles of thinking that are based on their unique backgrounds and experience. This fact can help you understand how to learn various subject matter areas at different paces.

Taking proper notes

This is of utmost importance especially while you are at school. Taking notes ensures that the brain has an organized method for retaining the learning materials. Notes are a valuable tool for those who are in subjects such as mathematics and science. Educators and tutors should make sure that learning materials are properly and Concepts are clearly stated so that students can comprehend what they are being taught.

How to Help Subject Matter Experts Meet the Needs of Different Learning Styles

By Francisco de Armas Costas

How to Help Subject Matter Experts Meet the Needs of Different Learning Styles

This series of articles by Francisco De Armas Costas began by identifying five challenges involved in encouraging SMEs to use participatory learning activities: to help them: (1) recognize the value of participatory learning activities; (2) become open to the idea of actually using participatory activities; (3) see that participatory activities are not necessarily difficult to design; (4) learn how to select appropriate activities; and (5) become comfortable with facilitating participatory activities.

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