The idea that learners can learn by listening, transcribing, and remembering, is more akin to the traditional model of teaching – as it is commonly perceived – where the teacher transmits knowledge, and the learner’s job is to note-take and repeat back to what he has learned.
Although more ‘facilitative’ teaching styles and more ‘experiential’ learning are popular, there is certainly a place for listening. Kirschner (1) argues that the human mind, particularly its memory function, requires clear instruction and not continual problem-solving approaches.
Constructing a Solution to a Problem
Expert problem-solvers require a bank of stored experience that is accessible. They argue that during the enquiry or problem-based learning activities, these banks of memory (where they exist) are less easy to access.
Citing case study research, they report that learning goals were achieved by students when teachers spent ‘a great deal of time in instructional interactions’. Further, they argue for the effectiveness of worked examples over problem-solving approaches in certain situations – namely: ‘for novices, studying worked examples seems invariably superior to discovering or constructing a solution to a problem’ (1).
They explain this difference using ‘cognitive load theory’. Use of a worked example reduces working memory load to allow the learner to discover the essential relationships between different alternatives. Learners thus develop their own problem-solving schemas and, thus, have a memory bank from which to access solutions later on.
A Number of Methods
A number of methods for teaching those whose preferred ‘learning style’ was visual, they similarly layout methods for teaching those whose preferred style is auditory. We would suggest, again, that rather than tweaking the method for the learner, teachers might like to use these methods of delivery where the learning content is best taught in an auditory mode of delivery:
- Using verbal instructions and explanations.
- Using appropriate music to complement learning.
- Encouraging debate, discussion, and analysis.
- Talking in a positive way.
- Using word patterns such as rhyme, rhythm, or mnemonics to learn information.
- Reading out loud.
- Encouraging learners to question one another.
- Using audio recordings of relevant material.
Some vocational teachers undoubtedly deliver content by talking more than is necessary when perhaps other means of facilitating learning would be more appropriate. Although the talk is not a bad idea per se, it is important that teachers understand the contexts in which talk is most, and least, beneficial for learning.
- Kirschner, P., Sweller, J. & Clark, R. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.
Lucubrate Magazine August 2019
The article is from the report “How to teach vocational education: A theory of vocational pedagogy” by Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and Guy Claxton, The City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (December 2012)