Cracking Common Learning Myths

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Michael Wolfe, PhD, Grand Valley State University

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  • Different ages / topics More interesting it is, worse they do
  • Deceive ourselves that easy = effective. Hard methods feel less effective.
  • Cracking Common Learning Myths

    1. 1. Cracking Common Learning Myths Michael B. Wolfe Grand Valley State University West MI Community Literacy Summit Sept. 25, 2013
    2. 2. Outline 1. Do students learn better in their preferred learning style? 2. Does increasing student interest in a lesson result in more learning? 3. After reading, is re-reading an effective learning strategy?
    3. 3. Learning styles hypothesis: Students differ in how they learn (visually, verbally, etc.). Learning can be improved when instruction for a student matches the student’s preferred style. Learning Styles Inventories (there are many dozens): Dunn and Dunn learning styles model Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire Learning Styles Inventory VARK Questionnaire (Visual, Aural, Reading/writing, Kinsethetic) Learning Styles
    4. 4. Many educators believe the learning styles hypothesis Learning Styles
    5. 5. Many people believe the learning styles hypothesis Learning Styles Scientific journals (Zapalska and Dabb, 2002) “The achievement of college students could be improved by providing instruction in a manner consistent with each student’s learning style.” Congressman Justin Amash “Government-mandated curriculums and teaching methods do not properly account for different learning styles.” GRPS Parent University (Study Skills class) “Learn how you can help your child use different learning styles to study and learn effectively”
    6. 6. What kind of evidence would support the hypothesis? Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork (2010) suggest a specific experimental design. Learning Styles (Visual) (Verbal) Verbal Visual
    7. 7. What kind of evidence would not support the hypothesis? Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork (2010) suggest a specific experimental design. Learning Styles (Visual) (Verbal) Visual Verbal
    8. 8. What does the evidence show? Only a handful of studies actually examine the hypothesis in a valid way (Constantinidou & Baker, 2002; Cook, et. al., 2009; Massa & Mayer, 2006; Sternberg, et. al., 1999). Pashler, et. al., (2010) report: “Remarkably, despite the vast size of the literature on learning styles and classroom instruction, we found only one study that could be described as even potentially meeting the criteria described earlier, and as we report in the following text, even that study provided less than compelling evidence.” In other words, evidence that students learn best in their preferred style DOES NOT EXIST. Learning Styles
    9. 9. Learning Styles Conclusion: Tailoring instruction to students’ preferred learning style does not improve learning. What will help? Present information in multiple modes (visually / verbally / practical problems) to all students. - The effort to integrate information across modes results in meaningful understanding.
    10. 10. Outline 1. Do students learn better in their preferred learning style? - No 2. Does increasing student interest in a lesson result in more learning? 3. After reading, is re-reading an effective learning strategy?
    11. 11. Interest Learning Interest and learning Overall, student interest in a topic does correlate with learning. But, what happens when we “spice up” a lesson to increase interest?
    12. 12. Interest Learning Interest and learning Overall, student interest in a topic does correlate with learning. But, what happens when we “spice up” a lesson to increase interest? - Interest causes learning - Interest doesn’t cause learning
    13. 13. Interest and learning: The effect of seductive details Harp and Mayer (1998) What is the effect of adding to a lesson interesting information that will not be tested? Method: Students read text and illustrated diagrams describing lightning formation Illustrated text with no seductive details Illustrated text with seductive details Test covers common content (lightning formation) OR
    14. 14. Interest and learning: The effect of seductive details Harp and Mayer (1998)
    15. 15. Interest and learning: The effect of seductive details Harp and Mayer (1998)
    16. 16. Interest and learning: The effect of seductive details
    17. 17. Interest and learning: The effect of seductive details Conclusion: Adding interesting information that will not be tested to a lesson consistently HURTS comprehension. What will help? 1. Increase interest for the content you actually want students to learn (harder to do). 2. Be clear – interest increases when students succeed at comprehension
    18. 18. Outline 1. Do students learn better in their preferred learning style - No 2. Does increasing student interest in a lesson result in more learning? - No 3. After reading, is re-reading an effective learning strategy?
    19. 19. As a study strategy, re-reading is the most commonly used technique (Carrier, 2003; Kornell & Bjork, 2007) Easy to do Feels like it’s effective Re-reading after initial studying
    20. 20. How can we remember what we read? 1. Read a text multiple times. 2. Read a text once and recall it from memory. How does re-reading compare to self-testing? Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    21. 21. Part 1: Read (study) a text or recall it (test) Group A. Read texts 4 times (SSSS) Group B. Read 3 times / 1 test (SSST) Group C. Read 1 time / 3 tests (STTT) End of pt. 1 – predict what you will recall one week later Part 2: Recall text content - 5 min. later - 1 week later How does re-reading compare to self-testing? Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    22. 22. Results: Memory predictions (1-7 scale) SSSS 4.8 SSST 4.2 STTT 4.0 Not significantly different from each other Effects of studying vs. testing on memory Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    23. 23. Results: Part 2 recall performance Effects of studying vs. testing on memory Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    24. 24. Conclusions: 1. Re-reading is generally effective if the test is immediately after reading. 2. Re-reading is much less effective than self-testing if the test is two days or more after reading. 3. Students do not understand the difference in effectiveness of re-reading vs. self-testing. How does re-reading compare to self-testing? Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    25. 25. Conclusions: 1. Re-reading is generally effective if the test is immediately after reading. 2. Re-reading is much less effective than self-testing if the test is two days or more after reading. 3. Students do not understand the difference in effectiveness of re-reading vs. self-testing. What will help? Read what you need to learn, then test yourself by recalling it as well as you can. Then check what you recalled. How does re-reading compare to self-testing? Roediger & Karpicke (2006)
    26. 26. Outline 1. Do students learn better in their preferred learning style - No 2. Does increasing student interest in a lesson result in more learning? - No 3. After reading, is re-reading an effective learning strategy? - No
    27. 27. General Conclusions Intuitions about learning lead us to all sorts of conclusions about what is effective. In general, things that seem like easy ways to take in information also feel like they’re effective: - learning in the style you prefer - being excited by flashy, interesting things - re-reading However, the most effective learning strategies tend to be those that require deep thought and effort: - integrating information across multiple modes - self-testing

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