As an adult learner that many consider to be a professional student, overeducated and underpaid crazy woman, I would venture to think that I would know my personal learning style and know what makes me want to add to my personal educational base of knowledge. Interestingly enough, though, having to take yet another educational course which elaborates upon someone’s idea of learning theories and their importance, proved to actually be informative. Not only to me as an individual, but to be applied in my endeavor to learn and implement instructional design.
Whether or not it is recognized, you learn something new every day. This is a broad statement indeed, yet as an adult learner we fluidly move through the motions of learning and problem solving as we encounter these snippets of knowledge and assimilate them into our daily lives. Whether the scenario presents extrinsically or intrinsically, some type of outcome is inevitable and some type of learning has occurred.
Personally, I know that I am a hands on learner. Please don’t give me a manual to read and figure out how to put together that IKEA piece of furniture. I will sit there and blankly look at the pretty pictures. Instead, put the tools in my hands and show me how to do it. I never fully embraced this type of learning style as a young learner; instead I tried to fit into the nice neat box of learning that was expected in the school during my formative years. Instead, I stumbled upon my learning style as an adult, when I was forced to learn about different styles and techniques as part of my post-secondary learning process. Once known, I embraced it and made it my mantra – show me, see me, let’s do it. “Given a specific instruction method or environment, some people will learn more effectively than others due to their individual learning style. However, this may not be the case throughout a course or a specific lesson; learning styles can actually fluctuate within subject or lesson” (Gilbert, & Swanier, 2008).
Now add to this mix the challenge of intrinsic motivation so that I can enhance my resume the skill set to include elements of instructional designer. And, as an actual brick and mortar structure educator, how can I transfer this knowledge into my classroom setting? “Students often become uninterested and restless during class when there is no correlation between the way students learn and the way instructors teach” (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008).
Motivation is one the basic tenants of education; the urge to learn is with us when we are born. Taking that urge and applying it to the learning environment and abundant learning styles, however, is much trickier. “[D]irection for either how to teach individuals through their styles, patterns or how to teach them by capitalizing on their personal strengths. Learning style can also be defined as the way in which each learner begins to concentrate on, process, and retain new and difficult information. Identifying learning styles and adapting lessons can motivate, encourage students to succeed, and eliminate unfair labeling. Different individuals perceive and process experiences in different preferred ways” (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008).
Motivated teacher generally equals motivated students. “A student may arrive in class with a certain degree of motivation. But the teacher’s behavior and teaching style, the structure of the course, the nature of the assignments and informal interactions with students all have a large effect on student motivation” (Kirk, 2011). If anything, this course showed me yet again that people learn in different ways, and the motivation for the adult learner is different from the formative learner. Simply put, adult thinking leads to a wider definition of learning, because adult application and critical thinking involves a broader field of experience to draw from than the younger learner.
Through my exploration of coursework related to Learning Theories and Instruction, the idea that everyone learns differently and that the difference does not weaken the impact has been repeated through and through. In essence, I have confirmed to myself that there is not one particular learning theory that is better than any other. Learning occurs whether or not we seek it. My personal learning processes allow for me to watch, absorb meaning, and define structures to work within, experience, apply, and redefine as needed. I am always tweaking things, making changes. It is part of who I am. Just like anything else that involves human experience or interaction, the act of learning does not happen in a vacuum (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman 2008).
This course has laid another brick in my foundational knowledge of learning and instructional design. Through a clearer understanding of Keller’s ARCS motivational process, I am able to better incorporate the building blocks of the educational pathway towards learning: creativity, flexibility, motivation, technology, learning theories and styles, all of these molds the individual learner (Keller, 1999). Therefore the instructional designer needs to allow for all of this when designing and delivering curriculum.
The past eight weeks has not been without mistakes. Learning the online platform for a new school is always a challenge. However, the little tidbits of information that I have gleaned from various aspects of this course have already started to make their way into my daily career as a high school educator. Although I am only working towards a post-baccalaureate certification in instructional design, I am doing so with enthusiasm and knowledge that I otherwise lacked. I have my motivation back and in check, now I can get my mojo on!
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism
Fenwick, T., & Tennant, M. (2004). Understanding Adult Learners. In G. Foley, Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. (p. 55). McGraw-Hill Education.
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf
Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).