As per Peace, Terrell M.; Mayo, Karen; Watkins, Regina in “Becoming Consumers of Our Own Research: What Really Makes a Difference in Improving Learning” there are 3 Domains which directly impact learning effectiveness: learning environment, teaching methodologies and learner experiences, assessment & evaluation.
At Larks Learning (a training and psychometric assessment company), we use brain based learning in training workshops that we conduct. My observation is that many trainers do adopt these practices but without fully comprehending why they do so. This results in an inability to tailor the method to the learning community and or learning objectives.
1. Learning environment: We as corporate trainers deal with adults who already have a significant work experience. The learning environment that we create is a rich one which uses their different experiences and that is accepting of various differing perspectives. This in my view supports learning as a threatening environment leads to “downshift” of thinking. (Pool, 1997) We have no impact on how their brains are ‘hard-wired’, but we do help in “sculpting” their brains as in sessions that we facilitate we help reflect on experiences.
2. Teaching methodologies and learner experiences: We conduct a lot of the activities in small group or large group settings. Since Kolb’s learning styles are dependent on the hemisphericity of the brain they account for differences amongst learners. We therefore use a mix of methodologies.
- Using power point presentation with relevant visuals, flip charts, video clipping etc. for visual learners.
- Using lecture by the facilitator and discussions for auditory learners. (In India we have traditionally considered auditory learners as intelligent probably because of a long history of oral learning through rote.)
- Using a lot of manipulatives such as play-dough and Lego for kinesthetic learners.
- We use the theory of Multiple intelligences in planning instruction by giving activities where each type can excel.
- We use mnemonics, songs, similes, metaphors, and graphic organizers.
- We try and pace the instruction to be 20 min’s followed by a change in activity (pacing & brain break).
- We use energizers to keep the audience interested.
3. Assessment and evaluation: We define session objectives (predetermined learning targets) before any learning session. Relevant questioning is our preferred method of assessment. The critical thing is the response to the answers. We are careful not to create a situation that there is only 1 right answer. We try and comprehend if the person can correlate the concepts learnt in real world situation (Authentic assessment).
Contributed by: Lovely Kumar Chief Projects: Larks Learning