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In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." Yogi Berra

Diverse Learners

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  1. 1. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." Yogi Berra
  2. 2. Learning objectives for this lesson Identify characteristics of Millennials, and generate ideas on how to effectively teach this generation of engineering students Identify diverse characteristics of learners , and generate ideas on how to effectively teach and include different types of students in engineering
  3. 3. Millennials - and the next generation of college students are well studied Beloit College has compiled a list of traits of the next graduating class since 1998. From the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2018: Students heading into their first year of college this year were generally born in 1996. Among those who have never been alive in their lifetime are Tupac Shakur, JonBenet Ramsey, Carl Sagan, and Tiny Tim. On Parents Weekend, they may want to watch out in case Madonna shows up to see daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon or Sylvester Stallone comes to see daughter Sophia. For students entering college this fall in the Class of 2018... During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too. When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon. Celebrity selfies are far cooler than autographs. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has always been the only news program that really gets it right. . Beware of hardening of the references students are not the same every year!
  4. 4. What makes Millennials different? Special Sheltered Confident Team-oriented Conventional Pressured Achieving From The Teaching Professor Conference, 2007: http://www.teachingprofessor.com/
  5. 5. What are students likely to look like in the next decade? The Chronicle of Higher Educations Prospects: Who Will Reach College Age in the Next 14 Years? (Chronicle of Higher Ed, Jan 19, 2014): http://chronicle.com/article//144061/#00/0-1 Interactive maps show population distributions based on ethnicity and race. Our notion of majority and minority student populations will need to shift with the next generation.
  6. 6. Other Aspects of Diversity: Learning Styles There are many ways to characterize how students best perceive, process and understand knowledge. But there is much debate about whether learning styles actually exist.
  7. 7. Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model Processing: Active Reflective Perception: Sensing Intuitive Input Modality: Visual Verbal Understanding: Sequential Global R.M. Felder and L.K. Silverman, "Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education," Engr. Education, 78(7), 674-681 (1988).
  8. 8. Active and Reflective Learners Active Learners Tend to process actively (doing something physical with presented material, then reflecting on it) Think out loud Lets try it and see how it goes Tend to jump in prematurely Like group work Reflective Learners Tend to process reflectively (thinking about presented material, then doing something with it) Work introspectively Lets think it through and then try it Tend to delay starting Like solo or paired work Materials adapted from the National Effective Teaching Institute, with permission (Richard Felder, Rebecca Brent and James Stice)
  9. 9. Sensing and Intuitive Learners Sensing learners Focus on external input Practical Observant (notice details of environment) Concrete thinking (facts, data, hands-on work) Learn through repetition Methodical Like working with details Complaint about courses: no apparent connection to the real world Problems with exams: run out of time Intuitive learners Focus on internal input Imaginative Look for meanings (miss details) Abstract thinking (theories, math models) Like variety in learning experiences (bored with repetition) Quick Like working with concepts Complaint about courses: Plug and Chug Problems with exams: Careless mistakes
  10. 10. Visual and Verbal Learners Visual learners Show me Pictures, diagrams, sketches, schematics, flow charts, plots Verbal learners Explain it to me Spoken words, written words, symbols (seen, but translated by brain into the oral equivalents)
  11. 11. Sequential and Global Learners Sequential learners Build understanding in logical sequential steps Function with partial understanding of information Make steady progress Explain easily Good at analytical thinking (the trees) Global learners Absorb information randomly, then synthesize the big picture Need the big picture (interrelations, connections to other subjects) in order to function with information Large leaps in understanding with little progress between them Cant explain easily Synthesis, holistic thinking (the forest)
  12. 12. The debate about learning styles We know learning is hard, and that different concepts/ideas can be learned more easily in different ways. But there is little evidence that characterizing students by learning style is useful for teaching. Whether people can learn better in one way over another is not as important in the classroom as the meaning we are trying to convey. We want students to learn material based on meaning; that meaning may be best conveyed visually (i.e. a free body diagram), by text or equation (theory or mathematical method), or audibly (expert testimony) Watch the commentary on this topic by Dr. Dan Willingham, cognitive psychologist and neurobiologist at UVA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk More from Dr. Willingham (Learning Styles FAQ): http://www.danielwillingham.com/learning-styles-faq.html
  13. 13. A similar word of caution about personality types You can prove anything with statistics. I prefer interpreting anecdotes. ~Carl Jung Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) is based on Jungs theories of personality Although very popular (especially in work environments), there is very little scientific evidence, and no supporting research for MBTI Big Five personality traits are based on research, but many generalizations made to interpret results Like learning styles, personality types simply provide frameworks to describe the spectrum of students in our classrooms
  14. 14. Regardless of the questions, the answer is: Repetition and balance! If students are taught only in their less preferred modes, they will be too uncomfortable to learn effectively If they are taught only in their preferred mode, they will gain skills in those modes but will not develop equally important skills in their less preferred modes (i.e. we will not be developing lifelong learners) We need to teach in multiple modalities, multiple times
  15. 15. Time for reflection Watch the YouTube video of Dr. Willinghams commentary and other materials on his website. Write a reflection (1 page, double spaced) to defend or disagree with Dr. Willinghams position. State your stance in the first sentence of your reflection. Clearly explain your understanding of learning styles and how this affects your stance.