What began as a required class, a hurdle to clear as I make my way towards a junction in my educational career, ended as a revelation into my own mind and way of thinking. Many times I have attended a class only to struggle to learn and remember important facts so that I could pass a test or write a difficult term paper. I did not realize that I was limiting myself and my mental capacity. I realize now that there are many different learning processes, aids for memory (both working and long-term), and even simple reflection, applied correctly, can and will enhance my ability to not only learn but retain important information.

Many times we hear or read something and think, “That was so simple but I had never thought about it that way”. As I read and researched, certain phrases would catch my attention, warranting a second look. For example, the book Learning Theories and Instruction, states:

Simply attending to and perceiving stimuli does not ensure that information processing will continue. Many things teachers say in class go unlearned (even though students attend to the teachers and the words are meaningful) because students do not continue to process the information (Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009).

Something as simple as reflecting or elaborating on the subject mentally can enhance one’s ability to retain information. I found that to be so basic but yet surprising.

When I began EDUC 6115-2, I considered myself a Behavioral and Cognitive learner. Behaviorism implies learning comes from a change in behavior through observable performance and Cognitivism is basically a change in knowledge (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). When I was introduced to other learning processes, I had to rethink how I actually responded to information that was presented to me. I am an adult learner who learns behaviorally, cognitively, and with a measurable level of Constructionism. I participate in Social Learning through Connectivism almost on a daily basis. Before this class, I had no idea that I was limiting myself but most of all, that I was such a complex learner.

Learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation are the four areas an on-line learner and instructor must consider and acknowledge when preparing to embark towards higher education. We, as persons involved in knowledge seeking or teaching, must know how we learn, what we do to learn, how we access that knowledge (and the technological environment), and, most of all, stay motivated on our journey. Motivation is probably the most prominent component of learning regardless of the level of education or classroom forum. When there is a motivation to learn, there will be learning if the instructional environment is conducive to that process. Dr. Keller (1999) contends that motivation is manageable and is affected by the teaching environment but ultimately the responsibility of the learner.

I have already began to modify by instructional strategy when I work with students. I no longer require rote memorization which places the responsibility for learning on the students. I now facilitate association and elaboration to help the students not only remember but understand what they are learning, which is my responsibility. I have learned that within each student is a person who retains knowledge in different ways and has a different approach to learning [Gilbert & Swanier (2008)] and I, as the instructor, must not only instruct but facilitate that learning process and style for each student.

While there is irrefutable evidence of various learning theories, processes, and strategies as well as unlimited resources for knowledge, the burden of learning or knowing rests on us, the student. We have to self-evaluate. Knowing about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving (metacognition), as defined in Wikipedia, is where our strength lies in learning.

References

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective.

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. (1999). New Directions for Teaching and Learning; Summer99, Issue 78, p39

Metacognition, (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

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