Here's some thoughts on the course I am finishing. I learned a lot and thank Dr. Artino and my fellow learners for helping me gain a lot from this course. I wish you well in your future endeavors and look forward to continuing this educational journey with many of you.
Many years ago I was taught learning styles, such as hands-on (tactile), visual and auditory. These relate to how people learn and remember things. They relate to the method of instruction that appeals to a particular individual. I remember that when we read in order to learn something, such as how to make bread, our retention is about 10%. It increases to about 25% if we add an auditory component, such as someone reading instructions to us. If we watch someone perform the task our retention is up above 50% and when we perform the task with someone retention is around 90%. So we taught that when developing training around a topic, the training should incorporate all of the learning styles to increase retention. We did not teach that the training should be interesting or that it should motivate the learner. The learners had all of the motivation they needed because they were assigned (ordered) to the training. This was my adult introduction to learning. When I went through instructor training I learned how to keep my hands out of my pockets, keep one hand behind my back while pointing with a straight hand towards the object I was discussing. It was very rigid.
It’s refreshing to be in a different arena and to learn that training should have a motivation factor built into it to get the learner to want to learn. I’ve moved from learning styles to learning theories. Where styles are geared more to the mechanics of training development, theories are geared to the Why of development. The theories align with how I like to learn. Behaviorism has a feedback system built into it which appeals to most people
(Jeanne Ormrod, 2008). We like to know when we are doing well as
well as when and in what areas we need to improve. This is how I like to start learning a new
subject, especially one that I will be using almost immediately. Cognitivism is the use of the brain in the
learning process, based on the inputs it receives. I like how Bill Kerr says that “It seems to
me that each -ism is offering something
useful without any of them being complete….” (Atkisson, 2010). There are several –isms and they all have
value when used in the right scenario and with the right group of
learners. I find that I like each of the
theories when used properly.
Competency is a term that has gained ground over the years. It refers to people’s aptitudes or mental strengths and is useful when developing training. The training needs to relate to these “intelligences”, as they were called by Howard Gardner
2009). They are linguistic, logical-mathematical,
spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and
naturalist. Gardner explained that each
of us has each of these intelligences to varying degrees. Some of us are stronger in one or two areas
than the others but these intelligences can be improved on. When we focus training in a weak area we can
improve on it, just as we can make a strong area stronger. When we are learning something new, we tend
to want to learn it using training that favors our stronger intelligences. We can learn using our weaker areas but that
is not preferred. As Dr. Ormrod said,
“It is more productive to implement strategies to help people learn effectively
than it is to try to design curriculum that appeals to a particular learning
style” (Laureate Education, 2016).
It really doesn’t matter how much I know about learning styles and theories if I don’t have a way to motivate the students to want to learn the material. Motivation is key to getting students to learn anything. The instructional designer needs to find a key to unlock their “want to” so the student will pay attention. Their must also be a way to keep their attention. This falls under the “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)” box. Students need to know that the material will benefit them in some way. For kids in school this usually falls into the category of “testable material.” For adults the reasons are usually job/career related. In either case, the instructional designer (ID) needs to get student buy in to keep them glued to the subject.
This course has taught me that instruction needs to be designed to help people learn effectively. It needs to appeal to the audience it is going to be delivered to. Instructional designers should use the most up-to-date material available for the cost we can afford. We should use the most modern technology we can to deliver the training, also for the cost. We need to motivate our audience and ensure they understand the material we are delivering. And we need to train in such a way as to help them retain as much of it as they can. That is why we become instructional designers in the first place. That is why we love this field.
Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom (3rd Edition). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Development.
Atkisson, M. (2010, Oct 12). Behaviorism vs. Cognitivism. Retrieved from woknowing.wordpress.com: https://woknowing.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/behaviorism-vs-cognitivisim/
Jeanne Ormrod, D. S. (2008). Learning Theories and Instruction. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing.
Laureate Education, P. (Director). (2016). Learning Styles and Stretegies [Motion Picture].