Engaging Students with Every Learning Style
What is the best way that we can instruct and inform our audience? How can we keep and maintain our audience members’ focus, boost their attention, and ensure that they are learning the life-giving information that we work so hard to present to them? As every instructor knows, maintaining student attention and focus can sometimes be a challenge. And we want to find creative, innovative ways to share information to help them get as much out of each lesson as possible. Finding memorable ways to maintain student engagement can make learning more fun for both students and instructors alike.
As teachers, we are familiar with the concept of different learning styles, which are the different ways that students process information and learn. According to the theory of learning styles, students have a preference for one of three particular learning styles:
- Visual learners absorb information by watching. Having visual representations of information can help them process material. They picture the way things look in their heads, and they recall past images when they attempt to retrieve information from memory. Presenting information to visual learners with graphs, charts, pictures, and diagrams can help them learn.
- Auditory learners process information through the words they hear, which makes verbal lectures and discussions ideal for their education. Listening and talking with a partner or with discussions can help auditory learners process and retain material.
- Kinesthetic learners acquire information by movement and manipulation. They need opportunities to take a hands-on approach, handle objects, and learn through experimentation and trial and error. Sitting still and trying to concentrate for prolonged periods can be a frustrating experience for kinesthetic learners, who may become easily distracted without a more active approach.
Of course, learners may rely on multiple styles for learning. Therefore, using all three styles is the best way to get all students to engage on the lesson and focus on the material. Evidence supports that taking a variety of approaches during your lesson and varying the ways you present your material can boost student attention and retention of the material. The goal of every childbirth educator is always to reach all students.
For example, charts and flip charts can be a wonderful way to present and discuss fetal development. For a visual and auditory approach, a lecture supplemented with the visuals provided by charts and flip charts can help students absorb the concepts. To take a kinesthetic approach and to reinforce the concepts presented through lecture and visual displays, having a set of fetus and uterus models depicting development at various stages of pregnancy, such as our Uterus/Fetus Model Set, can bring the entire lesson to life for all learners.
Allowing students to handle the models and examine fetal development in a tactile—as well as a visual—way can help turn abstract concepts into a powerful reality.
In the same way, using charts, PowerPoints, and booklets to explain breastfeeding techniques gives your audience ideal visual references. Pamphlets, booklets, and tear pads also are perfect take-home resources, such as our Mama, I Want to Be Healthy Pamphlet/Poster, which helps expectant mothers make healthy choices throughout their pregnancies.
By demonstrating breastfeeding techniques and using models, such as our Cloth Breast and Hand Puppet Model Set, you can provide students with a clear visual demonstration of proper breastfeeding technique.
Similarly, having students practice techniques and positions with breastfeeding models allows you, as an educator, to work directly with your students as they practice and provide them with immediate feedback. For the students, the practice provides valuable insight into what breastfeeding techniques and positions will work best for them.
Models and manipulatives also serve as great icebreakers and discussion starters. By getting your students involved in the discussion and the lesson, you will maintain their interest, engage students with every learning style, and help them acquire the important concepts they need to take away from your lessons.
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