In rejection of verbal, visual, auditory or kinesthetic classification of learning styles, and in response to Jennifer’s post regarding same:
I applaud Jennifer’s courage to take the less popular position and to provide evidence for the position. Well stated, Jennifer!
Context – the argument Jennifer stated that learning is contextual and that certain things are more easily learned with specific strategies is quite sound. For example, learning to blend colours of paint would be most easily learned with visual strategies whereas auditory or verbal strategies alone would be insufficient.
Multiple Strategies – Jennifer furthered that multiple teaching strategies also improves learning. More students engage and understand and each student learns more quickly with multiple strategies. Jennifer’s horse riding example clearly illustrates this.
Experiential – I would also include that a learner’s prior experiences with the topic, whether a foundation of basic information or similar concepts applied to a different application, lend themselves to greater learning. Constructivists believe that we ‘construct’ our understanding based on the pre-existing knowledge and understanding we have from prior learning or experiences. More experienced students often can provide examples or applications for new concepts that aid in learning for the other students as well.
Neuroscience and Memory – from Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, memory storage and access is facilitated by the amygdala (an almond-shaped set of neurons located deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe) which plays a role in the chemical encryption of memories when there are strong memories present in the context. For example, strong fear of an attacker wielding a knife can create that fear response to knives if certain other factors are present, e.g. a man wearing similar attire. The implications for learning are that information with strong emotional context is encrypted using difference biologic markers than information with little or no emotional context. Emotionally encrypted memories are strong, endure a very long time and are easily accessed, whereas non-emotional information is stored in such a way that without repeated access early on to ‘reinforce’ or strengthen the memory, later access is more difficult. This has implications for learning: information exchanged in the form of stories with emotional context greatly facilitates memory storage in a way that is more easily accessed later. The memories will be strongest for contexts with strong emotions. Skilled orators, such as skilled comedians, take advantage of this by taking their audience on an emotional roller coaster ride with their story telling. Listeners connect more with examples and contexts in which they see themselves, such as a similar past experience.
I am hoping this post provides Jennifer and others with food for thought and provokes a thoughtful response. Thank you Jennifer!