Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Student Learning Styles Adaptation Method Based on Teaching Strategies and Electronic Media

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Student Learning Styles Adaptation Method Based on Teaching Strategies and Electronic Media

Article excerpt

Introduction

Humans have different ways of learning. Some can assimilate in a better way the knowledge received visually, auditory or through a certain sense. Psychology and cognitive sciences have longtime explored this question. The Dual Coding Theory for example states that information is processed through one of two usually independent channels (Beacham et al., 2002). While one channel processes verbal information such as text or audio, the other one processes visual information like diagrams, images, animations, etc. The Sperry's Nobel Prize winning left-brain / right-brain model of thinking suggested that the right hand side and the left hand side of our brain possessed specialized and differentiated functions (Dervan, et al. 2006). The left cerebral hemisphere is thought to be more verbal, logical or clinical, that is, more analytical, while the right cerebral hemisphere influences more the artistic and the sensing side of our intellectual. Powerful encoding and visualization techniques have shown to enable the creation lasting memory and improve recall. Dual encoding, for example, has proven to be an extremely effective learning tool. The simplest and most common form of which involves presenting the information both textually and visually. "Whole brain" learning is known to be a far more effective way to learn. The better connected the two halves of the brain, the greater the potential of the brain for learning and creativity (Rose, 1998; Dervan, et al. 2006). However, most educational systems have ignored individual differences that exist between learners, such as the learning ability, the background knowledge, the learning goals and the learning style (Ford & Chen, 2001). Educational systems generally provide a unique and standardized teaching material to all learners which tend to benefit to those whose learning style and background knowledge fits well with the teaching material. If the teaching style employed closely matches the student preferred style of acquiring knowledge, learning becomes easier and more natural, results improve and learning time is reduced (Rose, 1998). On the other hand, if for example a student is more visual than verbal and everything is written on the blackboard without auditory resources, student will experience difficulties in attaining the pedagogical goals in the requested time. In few words, traditional teaching material and strategies generally tend to benefit some students more than others.

In this sense, it is necessary to deploy resources to support the learning process in a way that it not only suits the characteristics of a few, but that it adapts to the characteristics of each student. In the context of Information Technology evolution and the availability of large number of electronic media, the idea of matching e-media with appropriate teaching and learning styles has been explored since the late 90's. There are many studies on the effectiveness of combining multimedia and hypermedia with learning styles in educational systems (Najjar, 1996) (Liao, 1999). They attempt to associate specific e-media characteristics to different categories of learners and propose instruments and methods for assessing learning style (Riding & Rayner, 1998). Most of these studies rely on Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) (Kolb 1984) and Soloman-Felder Index of Learning Styles (ILS) (Soloman, & Felder, 1993).

However, very few researchers give an idea of which appropriate combinations of electronic media and learning styles are more effective than others. An electronic media can be used in different ways to implement different teaching strategies which can be matched with different learning styles. For example, a discussion forum can be used in different ways. It can be used to assign a practical task to students in such a way that students solve the assigned problem in a collective manner. This fits well with sensitive learning style. The discussion forum can also be used to give a sequential series of theoretical presentations to students who can interact with the teacher. …

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