Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Learning to make a difference: Using VARK and Learning Styles
Participants took the brief VARK inventory to identify any preferences for sensory modalities (Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic). They received feedback on their preferences and discussed the implication of those preferences for their classrooms. In addition, they examined some students’ profiles and their preferences for specific learning strategies and weighed contributions from research data. Participants in groups were challenged to consider teaching strategies within and outside of their own preferences, and considered methods for empowering students to use their learning style preferences to study effectively.
By the end of the workshop participants:
- knew the origins of VARK;
- knew more about their own preferences;
- were able to employ VARK confidently with their students;
- recognized again the challenges in diverse classrooms;
- gathered strategies to cope with student learning diversity; and
- recognized the diversity among their colleagues.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
From Teaching to Learning
In the last ten years, some institutions and faculty have been advocating a paradigm shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning. To focus on learning does not mean that you relinquish your search for better teaching techniques and examples of best practices, but it does challenge you to re-examine the flip side of the educational process. Such a paradigm shift involves both personal and institutional goals.
In this workshop, both approaches were tested and the emphasis on learning and teaching within participants' institution was explored. Participants were challenged to place themselves on the continuum between a teaching and learning approach. The workshop was grounded in the reality of making significant changes to participants' next class to see if learning really matters.
At the end of the workshop participants:
- identified where they were with respect to the paradigm shift;
- saw the educational process from a student’s perspective;
- recognized that there are stages in learner development and in teacher development;
- reflected on the characteristics of their own discipline and their students;
- looked critically at their institution’s practices;
- examined the best ideas of participants; and
- imagined a better way.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Using a Learning Preferences Approach in your Coaching
Athletes/players and coaching staff have personal preferences as to how they want to receive and use information - communication preferences. These preferences, if known, can influence the ways in which coaches and their support staff interact with players. In some cases, using a learning preferences approach can enhance communication or avoid miscommunication caused through mismatching. The approach focuses on how athletes learn new skills and strategies, and can also apply to elements of coaching such as player career development, and the whole communication process within clubs and teams - travel, accommodation, and administration.
Over the past four years Neil Fleming, in conjunction with specialist coaching advisers in SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) has been running workshops to introduce elite coaches to this approach. He has also co-authored a book with Graeme Robson and Richard Smith of SPARC, entitled Sports Coaching and Learning: Using learning preferences to enhance performance.
Beyond New Zealand, the Learning Preferences Approach is being considered for inclusion in several coaching frameworks in the UK and Australia. Other major elite sports teams and groups that use VARK include the NZ All Blacks, NZ Netball, the Australian Institute of Sport, SportsCoachUk, and some AFL and ARL teams in Australia. This workshop introduced attendees to this additional tool for coaching and enabled them to use it with their athletes/players.