7. Learner-Centered Learning
Why does adult literacy instruction focus on learner-centered learning rather than on the traditional lectures we tend to associate with classroom instruction? Learner-centered learning means that students are at the center of their own learning. This type of instruction is especially important for adults who generally tend to be self-directed and can identify what they know and don't know.
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When learning a new skill, such as refinishing an antique piece of furniture, what is your preferred method of learning? Watching a video? Reading instructions and studying diagrams? Listening to a tape? Or doing a combination of the above?
Some of us gather information most effectively by reading or watching (visual learners); others by listening or verbalizing (auditory learners); and others by hands-on "doing" (kinesthetic or tactile learners). These characteristics describe the ways we learn or how we deal with situations.
Knowing about our learning styles helps us to learn - and teach - more effectively.
Consider the following statements:
- How you learn will help you to realize your limitations to learn in certain classroom situations such as a traditional classroom lecture.
- How you learn will help you to realize that your learning style influences how you plan your tutoring sessions. You will need to be aware of this tendency and to remember to meet your student's learning preferences as well.
- Knowing your student's learning style will give you the opportunity to strengthen her skills in weaker areas. For example, if she is a visual learner, you might want to strengthen her auditory skills.
We have different ways of organizing and thinking about new information. Multiple intelligences theory also suggests that we draw from eight distinct types of intelligence, as opposed to simply verbal and mathematical intelligence, as we apply different skills and abilities to solve problems and learn anything that is new.
In addition, adult learning is affected by external stimuli, such as the physical layout of a room, emotional factors (an ill child), physical condition (poor eyesight), and psychological state (low self-esteem due to years of performing poorly in school).