I’ve often referred to learning styles as one of the great unicorns in education. If you believe they are real, I challenge you to prove it! We currently have no evidence they exist and we have plenty of learning theories, with tons of evidence, showing how we learn. Those theories are contrary to learning styles. So if you don’t believe what I am telling you, what the research shows, please prove me wrong! I dare you! In fact, this site, worklearning.com will actually pay you $5,000 if you can prove they are real! So let me tell you how to do it if you are inclined to prove me wrong!
How to prove learning styles are real:
1. Select a learning style test. There are 100s so you need to pick one. Each defines learning styles differently (just the start of the nonsense that is learning styles)
2. Show validity and reliability evidence for the test (i describe in the video below how to do this)
3. Give the test to participants and divide them into 2 groups (ie visual vs kinesthetic)
4. Have at least 35 people in each group
5. Develop content for each group. For one group, use only their learning style. For example, for the visual group develop only visual content. Then for the kinesthetic group use both visual and verbal content.
6. Test participants on high (problem solving) and low (factual) content and compare results. You must prove that learning style made a difference. So you would need the visual group to perform best.
What do you think the results will be?
If you believe in learning styles and choose to ignore all research: You would believe that the Kinesthetic group should do terrible. They learn best with hands on activities. The visual group will do better because they are getting visual content.
If you believe is 1000s of research studies we currently have, all data, all evidence: The kinesthetic group will outperform the visual group on factual and problem solving knowledge. Why? Because we know that people learn better from visual and audio vs just visual. Learning style, learning preference, etc. has no bearing on this. You can say you are a visual learner, hands on learner, etc all you want but it doesn’t matter. You will perform well when you have well designed instruction regardless of what you think your learning style is.
And if you think the content was unfair since the kinesthetic group had visual + audio narration, just give both groups the same visual content and guess what, they will both perform the same. The visual group would NOT outperform the other group. Learning styles do NOT matter because they aren’t real. We have countless studies showing this phenomenon.
Meetings drive me nuts! Why? Because 90% of the time (made up stat) they are a waste of my time. The information could of been sent in an email that would of taken me 5 minutes to read. That is not to say meetings are bad, there are many times they are needed and the best course of action. As a result, I have put together 7 different tips to run a better, effective, faster, efficient, meeting.
Basic tip that nearly everyone does but make sure you always have one.
2. Time each item
This helps your meeting run on time. Do not spend time on 1 of 5 items. Move on! Especially if that one item only affects 1 of 10 people at the meeting.
Just having an agenda and time will help you facilitate. Make sure everyone can be heard not just the one person that keeps asking questions to take you off topic.
4. No recurring meeting
Have meetings when you actually need to have a meeting. Otherwise its a waste of time.
5. Don’t have a meeting to plan more meetings
Use a calendar. Don’t have a meeting to schedule more.
6. Use email
Have a meeting when you need to have a meeting. Use email or talk 1 on 1 when you can.
7. Stand up
Get rid of chairs. This ensures people will make the meeting fast. This gets rid of those all day meetings that waste everyone’s time. Yea maybe its extreme but I love the idea!
Here is my video which goes into more depth for each tip:
Theory that expands on prior 2D cognitive theories (i.e. theories that focused on text and images) to explain how we process content to learn in the real world through all domains (psychomotor/affective/cognitive), from games, experience, virtual reality, hand on activities, etc.
Memory has 3 parts – sensory, short term, and long term.
Information is first delivered to sensory memory. In this stage the learner decides how to handle the information or its forgotten
Short term/Working Memory – This is where information is processed.
Long term memory – indefinite storage capacity. Information can be stored here and retrieved for later use in working memory.
Miller (1956) – Working memory capacity
Learners can hold 7 concepts, plus or minus 2, in working memory at one time depending on how meaningful they are
Baddeley & Hitch (1974) and Baddeley (2000) – Model of Working Memory
Working memory/short term memory has a short duration and is controlled by the central executive. It has 2 channels, one for visual/spatial information and one for verbal information
Paivio (1979) and Paivio (1986) – Dual Coding Theory
Working memory is composed of two channels – verbal and nonverbal (visual). Each channel can function independently or they can work together to use information or store it in long term memory.
Mayer (2001) and Mayer (2005) – Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML)
Expands on Baddeley and Paivio’s theories
The CTML is based on three assumptions
(1) working memory is made up of a dual modality (dual coding) input channel system,
(2) there is a limited capacity in working memory, and
(3) that learners engage in active processing.
Moreno (2006) – Cognitive Affective Theory of Multimedia Learning
The CATML is Based on the following assumptions:
limited working memory capacity and virtually unlimited
capacity long-term memory
These are limited in scope – 2D – Only focused on verbal and visual information (*CATML does focus on more but still only hypothesizes that we use verbal and visual channels)
We still have people trying to use learning styles and multiple intelligences even though research does not support them because they seem to make ‘sense’ to people
How does any of this account for real hands on learning? Gaming? Virtual reality? Where we use other means of learning besides images and words (narration).
Much of our learning combines all domains of learning. Psychomotor and affective tasks require cognitive resources (i.e. are using in working memory). The domains of learning are great for instructional strategy development but do not help explain what happens in working memory.
So I started digging…
One of the first surprising pieces of information I found was from Baddeley (2012). This really sent me down the rabbit’s hole. “…can other modalities such as smell and taste be added without impacting visual or verbal capacity? Are there separate subsystems for smell and taste?” (p. 23) (Baddeley 2012)
Then I started finding things like this from Quak, et al (2015) who says that we tend to look at the way we process information in a stationary fashion, examining 1-2 channels at a time (i.e. text and images) whereas in real life we take on many at a time – hearing, smell, sight, taste, etc.
Then I started to look at the way we work, play games, use our senses…
For example, when we play a video game we are using our ears, eyes, and hands. So I started looking at the biology of humans. Specifically focusing on the senses and found that biologists recognize many senses (20-30 or more) such as Visual, Auditory, Haptic/kinesthetic, Olfactory, etc. I was surprised, but yes, we have many other senses. More than the standard 5 many of us learned in grade school. For example, hunger and thirst. Our body has a lot of senses.
And just like that, I realized we have researched some of these other modalities, though that research was rare and scattered. For instance, Jonsson et al (2011, p.1023) state that examining how the senses (i.e. olfactory system) operate in working memory has “received almost no attention in the literature”. Here is a sample of what I found:
Andrade and Donaldson (2007) conducted a series of experiments that found that there was a modality specific space in working memory for a learner’s olfactory system. These results were then again confirmed by Jonsson, et. al (2011).
Lerch, Cui, Patwardhan, & Visell (2016) conducted an experiment which found that haptic information can be stored in working memory and has its own channel. Seaborn, Riecke & Antle 2010 found similar results.
So we have some initial evidence that these senses have their own place in working memory! Now this makes sense. The research is aligned to what we really experience. This explains what is happening in working memory when we learn from games, virtual reality, and in the real world! Now I am excited!
4.0 What I realized is that we have been focusing on a very small piece to a very large puzzle!
3D Learning is a theory that expands on prior 2D cognitive theories (i.e. theories that focused on text and images) to explain how we process content to learn in the real world through all domains (psychomotor/affective/cognitive), from games, from experience, in virtual reality, from hand on activities, etc.
Its organic – living and changing
Research has only begun to scratch the surface
Multiple Input sources
Multiple input sources – There are a number of input sources that humans experience. These include vision, hearing, feeling, doing, smelling, tasting and many more
Sensory memory is where we first experience the input and put it into working memory or dismiss it
Learners have/can process information through a number of channels in working memory (i.e. visual, verbal, haptic/kinesthetic, olfactory, and more)
Learners can process multiple channels at the same time (can work together or independently from one another).
No matter how many channels we have, we can still only store a limited # of concepts in working memory
Training can improve each channel.
Learners will have natural strengths and preferences for one channel vs another.
Learners can work with prior knowledge from long term memory
Long term Memory
Long term memory is said to be indefinite
5.0 What’s next…
We need to expand the multimedia principles…and probably should be calling them the principles of learning
What are the other channels/how many?
Olfactory, haptic/kinesthetic, taste, etc. How many do we have?
What combinations work best? How many is too many?
For example, using our eyes, ears, and hands. Is that too many? How does that impact cognitive load?
This is especially crucial to the gaming literature as virtual reality starts to become more common for hands on training
Andrade J. & Donaldson L. (2007). Evidence for an olfactory store in working memory?
Psychologia, 50, 76-89.
Atkinson, R.C., and Shiffrin, R.M.(1968). Human memory: a proposed system and its control processes. Psychol. Learn. Motiv. 2, 89–195.doi:10.1016/s0079- 7421(08)60422-3
Baddeley, A. (2012). Working Memory: Theories, Models, and Controversies Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2012.63:1-29.
Baddeley, A. (2000). The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4(11), 417-423.
Jonsson, F., Moller, P., & Olsson, M. (2011). Olfactory working memory: effects of verbalization. Memory and Cognition, 39, 1023-1032.
Lerch, R., Cui, H., Patwardhan, S., & Visell, Y. (2016). Exploring haptic working memory as a capacity-limited information channel. Presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium Conference.
Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mayer, R., E. (2005). Introduction to multimedia learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The cambridge handbook of multimedia (pp. 1-16). NY: Cambridge University Press.
Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations. New York: Oxford University Press.
Paivio, A. (1971).Imagery and Verbal Processes, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York (Reprinted 1979, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New Jersey).
Quak, M., London, R., & Talsma, D. (2015). A multisensory perspective of working memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 9, 1-11.
Seaborn, Katie & Riecke, Bernhard & Antle, Alissa. (2010). Exploring the interplay of visual and haptic modalities in a pattern-matching task. Paper presented at the 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Haptic Audio Visual Environments and Games
The Journal of Training, Design, and Technology (JTDT) is a new online journal seeking submissions.
JTDT is designed to bring together current practices and research. The journals focus is on the following:
Research – manuscripts
Practice – case studies, lessons learned, etc
Analysis and Evaluation
Types of papers:
Brief articles (on current practice or theory)
Strategy reviews (Using a strategy in the workplace/classroom)
Special Topic papers
The students are back. UNCW admitted 2100 freshmen – Wow that’s a lot. It’s a very exciting time for these students. I don’t usually teach undergraduates and when I do they are juniors/seniors so I never get to see when they are still figuring things out. But for those that new to college and not sure what you want to do my advice is this…
Take a bunch of classes in different subjects to see what you want to do
Figure out which type of jobs each major leads to
Figure out what kind of salaries each major leads to
Figure out what students in the majors are actually doing when they graduate
Talk to faculty about your future goals and steps to get there
Then ask yourself what would you enjoy doing for the rest of your life. Keep in mind that you aren’t getting your dream job out of college (well maybe you will buy many will not) and figure out the path to get there. Meet with faculty and take advantage of what the college has to offer. Too many students pick a major they might not like just because they think it might lead to a good career. A good career comes out of passion and hard work. So choose wisely…you can only change careers so many times…sometimes you can’t.
I am reading through a number of peer reviewed studies and noticing that there are pieces missing from each. So if you are conducting an experimental study where learning is a dependent variable you must do the the following (note these are the things I keep seeing that are missing):
Pre test. This is to ensure that differences found in your study are due to the condition and not prior knowledge. Be aware that if you give the same pre test as post test, its a violation of validity but it can still be done (its better than no pre test). Thus I recommend giving a different pre test.
Content Validity. Is the content you are using correct? And is the assessment measuring the objectives from the content? How do you know this? Explain this. Has an expert reviewed it? Have you piloted it?
What is the reliability of the test? Please provide us this information.
Provide the M, SD, and Effect.
I know all of this seems like common sense but I am seeing top tier journals publishing articles that do not contain this basic information.
If your online courses involve online discussion (and they should!), I urge you to consider the types of discussions your students are having. Before I get into that, lets discuss the advantages of online discussion. Online discussion is what separates online courses from traditional distance learning correspondence courses. It gives us that ‘feel’ i.e., social presence, that a face to face course has. So if you want your learners to be happy there needs to be an element of discussion and student/teacher presence in the course. However, what I find is that many online instructors have boring discussions causing a slight decrease in satisfaction when comparing their online vs face to face student satisfaction scores. In fact at the end of my online courses I get many comments from students stating that they were happy they didn’t have boring discussions like other online courses they have taken. Many say they were nervous to take my course due to bad experiences in other online courses.
Why does this happen?
We know the students need to do the discussions as part of the learning process however the students usually see most discussions as busy work – something they are required to do, that is not fun, that they feel they do not get a lot out of. As a result, I have been experimenting with a discussion strategy that I believe works very well in online courses, which promotes learning and makes each discussion very beneficial for the student.
What do I do?
Instead of posing a discussion question that I hope sparks students interest I have students do a project. While we all love discussion questions the issue is that in a 5, 8 or 15 week course where students need to participate each week, there is no way you are going to come up with 1-3 discussion questions each week that students generally care about and thus they lose motivation doing the same thing over and over again. In addition, many discussion questions don’t even spark discussion and students are posting simply to meet the requirements in the course. This is boring! So I create a project for each week of the course that students post to the discussion forum and then discuss. I love this idea because students will get to see how another student viewed the assignment and learn from what they did. What are some example projects/activities that I have students do instead of a weekly discussion question? Some examples include presentations, videos, screencasts, critique articles/videos, charts, collages, short fictional stories, and many others. I try to make each week a different activity that relates to the content covered for the week. This way before my week starts students have done a small project on the topic and they have started discussing it. What I find is that many students go in and look at each students project because they are curious to see what their classmates did. This creates a great learning environment and makes students very comfortable with each other. I find that doing this has increased my end of course review scores, end of course comments, and increased the amount of compliments I get for my online courses. Give it a try and see how it works out for you. And I find this works for both undergraduate and graduate courses!
What computer should you buy your son to be college freshmen?
First, How much money can you spend? Unfortunately when buying computer you usually do get what you pay for. So if you are spending $400 on a computer expect it to deteriorate faster than a $2000 machine (as in it might last a year vs the $2000 machine that will last for 4 easily). Also, expect that the $400 computer components are probably already 3-4 years old and will have trouble running current software. A minimum I usually tell people is to spend $700 and look at sites like https://www.hotrate.com to find the reviews of the best systems and compare their reviews to choose the best. Less than that and you are asking for trouble. $1000-$1200 is even better and what the majority of students need. And $1200-2000+ is what you need for a high end machine for gaming, computer programmer, graphic artist, movie editor, sound editor. Once you have decided your price point, then decide… Also if you are coming back to school. There are sites online that can absolutely help you throughout the year. You can finally look up advanced chemistry or advanced algebra with ease, or even the specific things such as the difference between then vs than for English.
Do you need a Mac or PC? Well maybe Macs are already out of your price range. So you can skip to the next paragraph. If you are not sure which you should get ask yourself the following: Are you good with computers (tech geek) or going into computer science, engineering, business or a science field? Then I would get a PC and if you come across any issues with your PC, this highly rated repair service can help you out. So much software only runs on a PC so you dont want to get into a class where something you are using wont run on your computer. If you are not good with computers and just need something that will last for your 4 years to write papers, browse the web, and be used in courses, then definitely get a Mac. They are great for those that are not tech people and usually will last 4+ years. I had one that lasted 8 years.
Next you need to decide what brand, upgrades, and where to buy…First, shop around. Look online and at stores. Take a sales associates words with a grain of salt. First they are trying to make a sale and they are NOT usually computer experts. If they were computer experts they wouldn’t be a sales associate at Best Buy or Walmart they would be working at a company making 60-90k a year. Secondly, they are NOT in your program and do not know what you really need. So do your own research. There are tons of back to school sales and all of the computer companies offer discounts for students. So look and compare. But what brand? If you are getting a Mac then you know you are getting a Mac. If PC however, there are tons of options out there. I would personally rather look components and price rather than brand per se but I do like Dell and Alienware (a dell brand) but there are many others out there too.
So what components should you be looking at? Disk space. How much do you currently use? I would recommend at least 250-500GB. Also remember there are free options for space such as dropbox so space might not be too much of an issue anymore unless you have tons of pictures, songs, movies (which all college kids have). Remember that if you run out of space you can buy a 1TB (1oooGB) hard drive for under a $100 at any time so don’t worry too much about the space issue. Next you have Ram. Get a minimum of 8GB but I would probably not get under 12GB if I wanted this to last for 4 yrs. My current computer has 32GB (and its 3 yrs old) just to put what you are buying into comparison of what is out there. Ram is one area where you need to upgrade. If you are a gamer or in a major where you need a fast computer get as much ram as you can afford. Then of course you need to consider the video card and processor. I usually try to get the best I can here as well. The least important thing for me is disk space as I can always upgrade that and buy more. As far as screen size, it doesn’t really matter – that is your preference. Get what you are comfortable with.
Should you buy a warranty? Yes. Please get it. I watch computers fail all the time. Please get it for at least 3 yrs if possible. Computers, especially laptops will wear out as they are carried from class to class and stuffed in a backpack. Keep in mind your school will fix computers as well so make sure you check with your school to see what they offer.
Should you buy Office and other software as an add on? NOOOOO. Wait until you get to college. Colleges will offer huge discounts on this stuff. For example you can buy the full office package at my university for $30. They have tons of software too so make sure you check before putting out big bucks on software.
Oh, and if you are wondering the answer is NO, a tablet cannot replace a computer. A tablet is a great compliment to a computer but you need a computer. You cannot get by with just a tablet.
So you want to go to college? This post is not for the 18 yr old high school senior, rather, it’s for the person that didn’t go to college right away (or failed out at some point) and wants to go later in life. Later in life can be 20 yrs old or 60 yrs old. But this post will still be helpful to those college seniors as well it’s just not geared towards them. Why am I writing this? I teach in a graduate program and have a wide variety of students applying and I wanted to share my advice for those going back for a bachelors that they never earned or for their Master’s. So…
1. Relax. I understand you are nervous but just relax. It’s school. If you want to go, then go. There is a program out there that will suit your needs.
2. It’s never too late. Again – It’s never too late. You can change careers or paths at any age. Will it be easy? Maybe not but I bet you any amount of money it’s possible. So yes it’s never too late.
3. Why? Why are you going? Do not just say you want to go to college and have a career. What is it you want to do? What do you enjoy? What are your hobbies? If you were independently wealthy and could choose any career what would it be? Then select a field/major based on that desire.
4. Money. I don’t mean cost of college. What kind of job will you get with your degree? Now I don’t think you should get a degree just for money, college is about learning and learning to problem solve. But you need to have some career path in mind when you choose your major. How much will you make? Once you know what you will make then you can start choosing a college…So next is
5. Cost. How much will it cost? The average undergraduate degree in the US costs 30-40k total. So its about as much as an SUV and spread out over 4 years. If you are looking at a public university you should expect to pay that much in tuition. Plus you need to consider your living expenses and health care and special products like clear nail plus for nail fungus infection. Its very easy to work part or full time and go to college. However, the more you work, the longer it will take to get that degree. And certain degrees, like biology will be more demanding and offer less time for work. So you will need to figure this out. Remember that there are tons and tons of scholarships out there, like the ucla undergraduate tuition and fees scholarship fundings. Also, there are tons of jobs on campus that you can have while you go to school which may even pay your tuition. If money is your barrier than you are not doing enough research and planning well enough. If you are looking at schools that cost 50k a year in tuition and money is a problem for you then you are already doing it wrong.
6. Online or face to face. Do you want to go online or face to face? Do you live near a university? There is tons of research to be done here. I always recommend going face to face if you can because of access to campus facilities and professors. Even if you go online at your local university that would be better than going online at a university across the country. Access to the campus is key plus you can always mix up your online or face to face classes, which is the best of both worlds. Also, keep in mind if you do decide to go online that its harder for many people. Why? You need to have a lot of self motivation to be successful online. It takes a lot of self discipline. So consider that. There are no right answers here. Just what works best for you.
7. Finding a school. What is the schools reputation? Who are the professors? Do the professors have websites? Can you see their resumes? If you cannot find this stuff out from the website I would be very hesitant to apply. You should be able to see everything online without needing to talk to anyone. Look at my post on finding a college here
8. Will I get in? Yes you might need to take some tests. Yes you will need to gather information. Yes you will be nervous. My advice, your past matters but only up to a certain extent. Professors want students in their programs that are motivated to do really well and will put in the effort to do well. If you have a rocky past (bad grades, bad test scores, prior arrests, etc.) do not assume you cannot go. You can. You just need to make sure you are showing them that you can succeed. How can you do this? Set up a meeting with the professors and talk to them. This helps a lot. If they have talked to you and know you are really trying and motivated they might let those other things slide. Also, if you do get rejected and you really want to go, sign up for a class. You can always take classes without being admitted. In that class do really well then reapply. I bet you will have no problem getting in after that. Now all of this is case by case and some programs have tough requirements but if you want in, you will find a way. Watch the movie Rudy if you don’t believe me.
9. Tests – yes you might need to take them. My advice is to to prepare, buy the book, take a few weeks and really study. If you do bad don’t worry just follow my advice is step 8. Some people are just prone to doing bad on these. There are ways to study and I will write another post on how to do that.
10. Have a plan. How long will it take you to graduate? Know this. Know exactly when you will be done. Then you can plan things like internships and such.