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Learning strategies can vary by subject matter, student learning styles, instruction styles, and more. Many strategies transfer across subjects and styles, while others will work specifically for one area of study only. A teacher or instructor may want to consider narrowing his or her focus to determine what, exactly, he or she needs to know to tackle an instructional or learning issue. An English teacher, for example, may need to know about learning strategies regarding vocabulary, while a science teacher may need to know about strategies for information retention and application.
Grouping is one of the most common learning strategies that transfers across subject matter. This process involves placing information into logical groups for easier recall of information later on. A carpenter may, for example, group the different wood cutting processes by identifying the project he is most likely to use those processes during. Building a baseball bat, for example, will involve using a lathe, chisels, sandpaper or other sanding tools, and so on. A person learning a complex vocabulary list may group the words according to category; words like "genus" and "species" might be grouped subconsciously in the "zoo" category, while "simile" and "metaphor" may be grouped in the "poem" category.
Many students tend to be visual learners, so learning strategies will focus on creating an image to go with complex information. It may help a student to understand voltage currents by envisioning a battery inside a camera, or to associate the concept of a story's plot by drawing a plot pyramid. Teachers who understand these learning strategies can incorporate them into lessons to connect with a wider audience of students. It may not be feasible to include all learning strategies into a lesson, but more than one strategy can be included to make learning easier for several students.
Hands-on and kinesthetic learning strategies involve movement and practice by doing. These strategies are especially useful in the math and science fields. Students who are hands-on learners benefit from activities rather than lectures; a student learning about sentence structure may not understand the concept written on the board, but when given paper cut-outs of various words, he or she may be able to construct the sentence by manipulating the pieces of paper. Learning objects such as these are vital for hands-on learners; manipulation and movement help such learners grasp complex tasks and ideas more easily. Moving around the room or space may also help the students understand concepts as well.
Sometimes it seems like all this talk about different kinds of learners is just pandering to the kids, but it's really not.
I know that I struggle to learn when something is delivered in a lecture. No matter how interesting I find it, my mind is almost guaranteed to wander unless I'm engaged somehow.
If I'm able to participate in a discussion, I do much better. I think teaching strategies that allow for kids to be involved in their own learning are the best.
That goes doubly for adult learning strategies. It's difficult enough to be an adult learner without having to worry about not being able to take in information.
I think it is also important to bear in mind that kids can be quite shy and sometimes this will hamper their learning ability. I know when I was taking chemistry in high school I was just too nervous to really give it a go.
I think if my teacher had used more peer assisted learning strategies where I was helped by more advanced kids in the class or something, I would have developed more confidence and eventually been able to hold my own.
As it was, I was constantly worried I would do something wrong, so I never really participated in experiments and ended up failing.