Supporting Effective Learning

Supporting Effective Learning

Educators often sit with students and ask them to in fact reflect on what a learner looks like. We talk about; curiosity, engagement, communication, exploration, successes, failures, and many more things. So what does it look like, then?

Learning itself is a natural thing. We have interests, loves, and likes that we naturally gravitate towards in our lifetime. Behaviourists, cognitivists, constructivists and education researchers, have completed many studies on how we learn, and how we should teach. Like all theories, these of course, are constantly changing and growing with each new bit of research.  

In an extremely quick summary; a similarity that is often discussed are the four main ways in which we learn. These are; visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. Modern pedagogies (frameworks for how we teach) are often then written to provoke these natural learning styles in the classroom to enhance the effectiveness of learning. 

For example, during a reading lesson teachers literally teach text response and understanding in forms of: visual analysis (visual), listening response (auditory), decoding of written language (reading/writing), and physical expressions for dramatisation of text (kinesthetic). Therefore addressing each learning style. This is a very brief description, but to summarise… 

“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn.” – Dr. O. Ivar Lovass

Let’s have a quick look at figure 1: Howard Gardner’s theory on 8 types of multiple intelligences. Allow it to provoke your thinking about your own passions and interests or perhaps, intelligence. 

Think, are you drawn towards groups of people, or are you inspired by linguistic patterns of thought? Do you learn better when something has artistic expression? What kind of learner do you think your child(ren) might be?

Although we can not rely on one theorist’s model to assert what kind of learner we are, we can use it to reflect and be self-engaged with our best learning self.

So how does the school system use all of this to support effective learning?

In Australia, we have our framework for education, Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (see our article on Australian Curriculum). Our schools then build on these frameworks and choose a style (pedagogy) in which they follow to deliver the singular framework. 

Educators work hard continuing to research, learn, and modernise their understanding of effective learning. Independent schools then design teaching models that enhance the learning style that best suits (for lack of a better term) their most common student profile.  

This is a forever spinning wheel; to create lessons for learning that engage all students at once based on new research. Firstly, you are battling the delivery of all mandatory subjects, and in doing so, you are secondly catering for many learning styles and abilities during any one time. 

So how do schools know if the learning is effective? Students are assessed of course! However remember this is done more so academically than intrapersonally. Modern education researchers are implementing different assessment styles however, into Australian classrooms. Some of them are John Hattie, Kath Murdoch and the directors of the International Baccalaureate board; all of their intentions being to support the individual to understand and manipulate their own learning journey. 

Education researchers all over the world are even producing online apps, workbooks, and programs everyday that, to support an effective and independent learning environment. At home, no matter what kind of learner your child(ren) are, rest assured knowing in a supportive environment they will always learn.

Mrs. LD’s Quick Tips: important things for supporting effective learning 

  1. Engagement: create an environment that is of interest to them, create practical connections and allow movement and fluidity with their time and interactions. 
  1. Giving them control: we must be patient and provide the tools for them to discover. 
  1. Communication: talk with them through the journing using practical encouraging language that is inciting and supportive, whilst enhancing their interest in return.
  1. Scaffolding: build on the moment and make modifications when needed or identified. 
  1. Embracing diversity: there’s not one style in which to learn, embrace when different learning opportunities arise.
  1. Curiosity: Allow room for curiosity and play, this will develop a natural provocation for wanting to learn more. 

Resources and References: 

Behaviourism Cognitivism, Constructivism 

Kath Murdoch Pedagogy 

Engaging 7 Types of Learners 

Sociocultural Theory 

Theories of Education

VARK – a guide to learning 

Figure 1: 

© Positive Teaching

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