Learning has always been viewed from the prism of reading: a classroom, students, and teachers. But we now know better.
Learning is what we do every day – Voluntarily and involuntarily, as children and as adults. However, very little thought has gone into how we learn things. This article intends to answer the question: how do we learn?
Perhaps, if we know how we learn, we would be able to do more to make learning pretty efficient, interesting, and productive. But there is a certain thing we already know. People learn at different paces.
Some learn faster, while others learn slower. Several factors are also known to either inhibit or promote learning. We also know that the method of teaching can affect learning. Sometimes, a person learns faster after discovering a new approach.
Learning, we also know, is aided by practice. The more we practice what we’ve learned, the more we learn and understand. Moreover, teaching improves learning. That’s why teachers and professors are always experts in their fields. The more they teach others, the more they know.
We already know all these about learning. But what is the science behind learning? And, how exactly do we learn?
Science Behind Learning
Learning is an exciting concept. What and how we learn is what characterizes us as humans. You notice how a kid imitates what is seen in the environment or what others do and say.
A child naturally picks the language of his surroundings. The classic story of Tarzan shows how humans would pick up the habits of animals if they were raised in the jungle.
Teachers want to become better instructors, and students want to learn better. Everyone would benefit greatly from understanding how learning takes place.
The first and most important thing about learning is that it involves the brain. Interestingly, the brain is one of the most complex organ humanity has ever studied. Neuroscience has explored the excellent subject of the brain.
However, the science behind learning cannot be fully understood by limiting it to the Neurosciences. Many other fields, including Education, Psychology, Engineering, and Computer Science, have explored the Science of Learning.
The field of Education has done extensive research into how humans learn. Unfortunately, very little has been done to acquaint educators with these findings, which would have been very helpful in building better teachers.
In the Science of Learning, there are two main branches:
Cognitive neuroscience focuses on the brain structure and how it behaves when different tasks or skills are undertaken
Cognitive psychology, which focuses on the mind and human behavior
So, the science behind learning is studying how the brain and mind function when learning takes place and the best conditions for learning to occur.
Cognitive neuroscience has shown that certain parts of the brain are responsive to certain types of learning. Cognitive psychology, meanwhile, has shown that specific actions can improve learning.
With research, a lot can be done on approaches taken to learning. For example, it has been discovered that students are more likely to glean more from a topic if they are put to the test.
In contrast, the standard has always required reading and re-reading to master the subject. Also, cognitive psychology suggests that learning little bits at a time is better than cramping a whole lot at a stretch.
The science behind learning reveals the key to developing better techniques for teaching and improving the chances for teachers to make more impact.
Types of Learning
Yes, there are different types of learning. And many students have been consigned to years of frustration because the kind of learning that suited them was never contemplated.
Not all academic learning must be done in the traditional classroom environment. Indeed, we learn more as humans outside classrooms than we do in it.
There are different types of learning. An ideal teacher must know which learning types are most suitable for each student and deploy the same for the student. It is a process called Individualized learning styles.
Although there are four main learning styles, a more exhaustive list suggests seven. The four core learning types are visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.
But note that no one type is the only way a person learns. It has to be a combination of some of them.
Visual learners learn better when they see what they are being taught. In all honesty, everyone understands better when a visual representation of the concept or theory is explained.
Imagine a biology class without specimens; it labeled images, at least? Children learn better when they see what they are being taught.
Every field has developed ways of spatially explaining concepts for better understanding, as most people learn better that way.
Auditory learners learn faster and better when they hear. If they read a thousand times, they may find it challenging to grasp the points accurately until they are spelled out in sounds.
Auditory learners often find it more challenging to read for long. Being sensitive to sounds, auditory learners would instead read literature out to themselves before understanding it.
Some people would never glean anything listening to an audiobook. Auditory learners, however, would grasp as much as possible at one hearing than at multiple readings.
Verbal learners are in love with words. They love words. They learn by reading and, of course, writing. Also, they love to play around with words, so they read and write. Such people learn by writing what they understand.
They probably note where they re-write points they learn from a class and often prefer their writing. Verbal learners would dislike the learning type where many figures and images are involved.
They wish everything could be down to black and white: written words.
Physical learners are bored with too much theory. They want to try their hands out on something. That’s why they are most exciting when going for practical classes at workshops or outside of the traditional classroom environment.
Also known as kinesthetics, physical learners assimilate better when they can try their hands on the practical skills they learned through books. Physical learners are often more in love with fine arts, creative arts, physical engineering, and sports.
Logical learners prefer to study things they can prove logically, like mathematics. They love working with numbers. They are not interested in reading words for too long without proving how relevant they are in numbers.
Everything must be logically proven for a logical learner to be excited. They are naturally interested in Engineering and social sciences.
The last two are more like patterns than types.
Social learners prefer to learn among people while interacting freely. They join study groups to learn better and excel if they have friends with whom they can learn together.
They prefer to learn by asking and answering questions and assimilate better when in a group.
Solitary learners, meanwhile, only learn best when they are alone. They prefer to bury their heads in the book and digest the points.
They feel distracted when among people and assimilate best when alone. They are often more severe than social readers, but there’s no basis for comparison.
These types of learning show that a teacher should understand each student’s preference, apply the principles and watch them blossom in understanding as the preferred learning techniques are used.
How to Boost Learning Results
Now, you’ve learned about how we all know. Here’s how you can improve learning as an instructor or as a student.
Go Digital: With the aid of technology, several innovations have been explored in teaching. With several apps, virtually all kinds of learning can be enhanced. Some technologies can provide virtual reality tours from the classroom to improve learning for those who love visual learning. There’s hardly any student that cannot be improved with appropriate technology.
Adopt individualized learning: The science behind learning suggests different types of behavioral patterns in the learning process. As an instructor, it is imperative to discover students’ most suitable learning preferences and work with them. It could be tasking, but it is rewarding.
Encourage out-of-classroom teaching: Learning occurs in different places. The classroom is just one of them. Once in a while, take your class out of the classroom. Explore nature. Go on tours. People learn more when they feel freer and livelier.
Make your classes enjoyable: Innovate in teaching. Try to learn from your students. Ask for feedback. Select students who would teach the class once in a while. Set quizzes and grade them intermittently. Open avenues for students to brainstorm and interact with each other.
Assess yourself: Assess whether you are impacting yourself. As a tutor, you must also learn. When you notice you are not improving yourself, your class is also likely stagnated.
At the center of learning is the brain. Knowing how the brain behaves while learning is essential to improving learning.
Since we learn in various ways, it is necessary to explore options and opportunities to enhance tutors’ and students’ learning experiences.
Max Ellis has been a professional educationist with lots of years and experience attached. he is passionate about learning and is determined to make learning fun and interactive for everyone. As a seasoned teacher, he has received accolades and recognition for the fantastic work he’s doing to improve education. TheUniPod is one of the many projects to offer simple but rich posts on educational articles and an intensive buying guide to get only the best material and equipment to improve learning.