Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Learning modalities

Kim Swygert cites an article from the AFT Newsletter on the subject of different modes of learning.

Question: What does cognitive science tell us about the existence of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners and the best way to teach them? Answer: The idea that people may differ in their ability to learn new material depending on its modality—that is, whether the child hears it, sees it, or touches it—has been tested for over 100 years. And the idea that these differences might prove useful in the classroom has been around for at least 40 years. What cognitive science has taught us is that children do differ in their abilities with different modalities, but teaching the child in his best modality doesn’t affect his educational achievement. What does matter is whether the child is taught in the content’s best modality. All students learn more when content drives the choice of modality.

Conclusion: Wrenching various subjects into different modes will not make them easier for children to learn. In fact, it will make them harder to learn.

Conclusion: Some children will be slower than others at learning certain subjects. (Some kids will be "good at math", others won't.) Period. If you fiddle with how the subject is presented, you'll just slow them down more.

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