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.

Optional Activity: Click here to learn more about learner-centered learning.

Learning Styles

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).


          46 comments:

          Kim Shelor said...

          Great!!!!

          Catherine said...

          I remember discussing this back in high school. We were supposed to try to define how we learn. I think my learning style has changed significantly since then and I imagine that the way we learn can even change on a daily basis depending on external factors. For example, if the environment is not conducive to auditory learning (the speaker is talking too softly), a learner would prefer a visual lesson. Or if the learner has some external stress that's keeping his attention, it may be better to do something hands-on to distract him from that external stress. This will be good for me to keep in mind and be prepared with multiple lessons to accommodate a last-minute change.

          Queen Of My Castle said...

          In the role of coordinator, I feel a strong sense of responsibility in figuring out what the learning style of the student is prior to placing them with a tutor. I want to get the best match possible in order to get the best possible outcome!

          Biltz said...

          This discussion on learning styles is helping me with thinking ahead about how different strategies are going to be better in various situations.

          Kellydog said...

          It seems that the optimal way of presenting new material should include seeing it in print, hearing it spoken and using it in dialogue etc. No matter which method best reinforces learning, there is a greater opportunity to learn from at least one of these. Encouragement and applause at any attmept to learn should be always preseny.

          lillian said...

          Good visual

          Pat said...

          Good assignment

          Ms. Ovette said...

          Most of us can and do draw on all of these styles when we set out to learn something. Even when one method is preferred, the other methods can serve as a way to enhance and reinforce the lesson. It is an empowerment for a learner to understand that there is more than one way to approach a lesson. Further, the more comfortable a learner can become with different ways of handling the same information, the more "fluent" the learner can become. It's the difference between following the footsteps outlined on a floor and really dancing.

          Fernando said...

          Learning styles are not exclusive, we all learn in different ways, the best thing to do is offer the learner the three types of expericence so he can get the information , process it, and apply it in different ways,that way he has always more chances to succed.

          Dixie Lee said...

          I'm an artist so 'visual' is definitely my preferable way to learn and teach/tutor; however, I realize that I will have to tailor my method of tutoring to my Learner's preferable way of learning.

          dianer said...

          This will be a fun challenge for me because I am a kinesthetic learner. I will make sure to adequately provide basis for the learner to define his/her learning style.

          Mardet said...

          This is interesting. It seems that my learning style is a combination of visual and kinesthetic.

          sandy said...

          This is a good section. I know that many times my adult children show me something (ipod techniques, craig's list, photoshop, etc.) and I think I understand it and can do it myself. Then, that evening, as I try to enhance my photographs or create a playlist, I realize that I must have missed something because I can't do it. Until I actually "sit in the driver's seat" and do a new task several times immediately, three days later, and three weeks later, I realize that I haven't really learned it. I guess that makes me a tactile learner.

          My son is a reader. He doesn't want to listen to directions, he wants to read them and follow step by step instructions.

          My daughter is completely different. She needs to hear it and see it done and relate it to something she has done before.

          I do believe the best teachers adapt their teaching methods to the student. Our job is to meet the tutee where he/she is, not the other way around.

          Marian said...

          The optional activity article was very helpful. I believe everyone needs at least basic abilities in each style, as they are all part of everyday life, so I would try to use all 3, while focusing on the one most conducive to the learner progressing.

          Joyce said...

          Even though I have been teaching in the public schools for a number of years, the Intime articles summarized information well.

          karenzpt said...

          I think the topic of learning styles makes a lot of sense and will be helpful in tutoring folks of varying styles and abilities.

          Lynn said...

          I was surprised to read the sentence about working with a student's weaker areas in learning style. Seems contradictory!

          Lynn said...

          Very helpful.

          neg said...

          I am a concrete thinker and a tactile learner. There is more than one way to learn.

          Laurie said...

          The aha moment in reading the article about learning styles for me was when I realized the impact of my preferred learning style on the lessons I create. This will be learning experience for the this tutor!

          Linda said...

          These different styles of learning are very interesting. It would sure be helpful if the learner has the same learning style as the tutor! :) This diagram is quite useful.

          Meghan said...

          I think the reminder that the way we construct our lessons is to a degree dependent on our own learning style is very useful. Our learner may not share the same learning style, and so we should be aware that we may need to adjust our lessons to better fit the way our learner acquires knowledge.

          Danielle said...

          Gardner's Multiple Intelligence theory was by far the most useful theory that I learned in college. Definitely is helping me teach/learn better!!!

          SNelson said...

          It was fascinating to see all the different learning styles, I wasn't aware I was so versatile!

          RR said...

          Understanding my learner's method of learning is tremendously helpful in how I approach lesson plans and continuing education overall.

          Megan N said...

          I enjoyed that! I am definitely a visual learner. I will ask what my learner is and then I will plan activities according to them.

          Kenneth Zen Bodhi said...

          Excellent information.

          lizbeth rakaczky said...

          I am a visual learner and found it hard to absorb material that was strictly lecture style, so I can relate to problems others may have.

          MuddyPaws said...

          Although learners have a predominant learning style, it helps to reinforce content using different modalities.

          mayraeg89 said...

          When learning the style of the individual participants becomes a challenge I feel what one needs to do as a tutor is use all three forms and look for the reactions of the students. You can tell when the participants are learning with a certain way or example, whether thats through kinetic, auditory, or visual forms of teaching.

          mayraeg89 said...

          I must say that i was very surprised on what type of learner I am. I have always thought that
          I was a visual learner but turns out that I am mostly a logical learner and a linguistic learner too.

          Steven Thibodeau said...

          The concept of Learning Styles is currently being challenged as not being research-based practice

          Lyssa W said...

          Wow - I always knew I need to e hands on to learn; and if I can take notes, all the better. But I never knew that I was a "Kinesthetic & Tactile" learner. Seriously, I tell everyone when it comes to learning something like a new piece of software, I need to be actually physically using it - I can't watch someone else then go do it myself. Obviously - that knowledge applies to the students as well. My sister was always an auditory learner.

          Susan P. said...

          I am a visual learner with strong auditory input. I had a child who was a very strong audible learner and hated the repetition of homework. I now understand that it is important to identify these traits and then work toward evening them out. My tactile learning is the lowest. So I am just beginning to wise up on the importance of working all three methods!

          Wallace West said...

          Each learning type requires a specific environment, it can be hard to accomplish this within large groups though. Audio learners need a structured, relaxed environment to focus and take everything in, visual leaners need good accurate information with good affects to keep them interested, while hands on learners need to be able touch everything so if you're teaching in theory kiss your participant attention goodbye. I prefer and three but lean more towards visual and hands on because I like doing things myself with minor guidance.

          MaShonda Macklin said...

          Personally, I can learn by all three methods, but I understand the importance of knowing a participant's learning style. A tutoring session could be a complete waste if the tutor is not meeting the students learning needs. I have noticed even in the classroom with my students that it is important to introduce/teach a concept several ways so that you meet the needs of all the learners.

          Regina Cook said...

          This is very real! To add, instruction has to be void of jams to either the auditory or visual channel. Instead, they need to reach both in a clean, concise method. CARP principles are imperatives.

          Pamela Lee said...

          I learn by all three methods. I may not always require all three.

          The student should be aware of how they learn and are familiar with what they know how to do and what their desires are. We need to tutor to their desires, which stimulate their enthusiasm.

          MSTATEN said...

          I would like to believe that I'm a visual learner; I'm good at memorization. However, I want to find out if any other methods work well

          Penny Speidel said...

          The tutor needs to help a student identify his/her preferred learning style so as to optimize teaching and learning. The tutor should encourage the student to reflect on what's working and offer suggestions for utilizing those helpful strategies, especially with independent assignments.

          Mosarrof Hossain said...

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          Stacy Bullock said...
          This comment has been removed by the author.
          Stacy Bullock said...

          I am looking forward to working with my participant to find out his or her preferred style of learning. As for myself, I am more of a visual learning but I can adapt my teaching method to any style once I figure out what works best! (P.S. I had a typo in my last comment so I deleted it. Sometimes, I type too fast!)

          james powers said...

          helpful.

          Natalie Esch said...

          I think any kind of one-on-one learning experience is about meeting the student where they are, and in order to do that, you have to take a few minutes to converse with them to discover their preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Knowing who they are and where they're coming from can inform how best you can help them.

          Sherry Unruh said...

          Before the first training session can be productive we must first get to know one another. The better we know the students background the better we can help them.