Learning Theory (in brief)

Learning is a Social and Individual Process

  • Encourage students to get to know each other
  • Provide opportunities for them to work cooperatively in pairs or groups
  • The time spent establishing a safe and friendly atmosphere represents a wise investment as students are more likely to attend class, to actively participate and to help each other when experiencing difficulty
  • Provide learning opportunities for individuals and groups

Learning Involves our Entire Physiology

  • People need to move their bodies to move their minds
  • Create opportunities for students to move during class. There is a considerable body of research that suggests that movements helps learners to engage with the material
  • Set up group work, pairs (think/pair/share), encourage learners to work at different locations in the classroom or a break-out room and to write on a variety of media (whiteboard, flip charts)
  • Ask questions where the entire class responds by a show of hands

 People Learn in Different Ways and at Different Rates

  •  Provide a cognitive map (outline/agenda) for students so they can see what the terrain is going to be
  • Provide variety and choice in learning experiences
  • To vary instruction instructors may want to include: projects, experiential activities, simulations, role-plays, debates, drawing, etc.
  • Tables, graphic organizers, i.e. mapping, webbing, models, mnemonics, writing, interactive notebooks (divide pages down the centre - information is provided on the left side. The right side is left blank for students to illustrate concepts)
  • Prior to learning, use the KWL (know/want to know/learn) strategy:
  • Identify what they think they know about the topic.
  • Identify what they want to know about the topic.
  • After reading, listening, and observing, the learner should identify what they have learned about the topic, using student reviews, presentations, games, writing questions, word problems, student journals, rhymes and rhythms, music, storytelling, active involvement, reciprocal teaching (peer and between different levels)

People Learn Best When They are Teaching

  • To retain, explain. Give students the opportunity to teach the material they are learning.

Learning Involves Both our Thoughts (Cognition) and our Feelings (Emotions)

  • The brain does not separate the cognitive from the emotional
  • Ensure a safe classroom atmosphere because if students think they are under attack, they 'down-shift'
  • To create a learning experience for students, use a variety of techniques - audio, visual, novelty, surprise
  • Link learning to a strong (but not too strong) emotion. The greater the emotion, the more vivid the memory
  • Emotion is a double-edged sword - too much emotion interferes with memory
  • A moving or humorous anecdote will help participants remember the point
  • The brain is more emotional than rational; otherwise, no one would buy lottery tickets!