~ Learning Theory + Learning Style + Learning Strategies = Motivation and Learning ~

When I began this course, I was quickly surprised by the significance of various learning theories and the relevance of how a learner actually acquires their knowledge, as defined in each theory – then, coupled with the potential for there to be a combination of learning theory and a learning style, overall; I now understand that if this combination is not correctly addressed during a course, be it, f2f, online/virtual, synchronous, asynchronous – the potential for an absolute failure to learn is very possible.

Throughout our course discussions I came to understand and realize how and why my own lifetime learning experiences were most often positive and successful learning outcomes, and too, just why some of my education experiences were not so positive. Personally, as a constructivist/visual learner, it now apparent that some courses I took just didn’t suit my learning theory/style structure. During this course, this realization was quite enlightening and now provides me the tools to better serve and guide and support my current and future students in their learning.

Utilizing my coursework as a future instructional designer, I now understand that I need to plan the design of a students’ learning experience by first understanding their learning style combined with learning strategies in all areas of instruction. This approach will assist the learners in developing the skills needed to succeed in their knowledge acquisition. At this point of my tutor and future instructional designer career, armed with a much better understanding of learning theories, I will need to be aware that students will acquire knowledge through numerous methods personal to their learning style, or combination of learning styles. They modes of acquiring, processing and understanding information will also vary. As the instructor, it will be my job to provide the necessary tools to promote self-efficacy motivation. Our goals are to help them recognize their own strengths and capabilities to succeed at learning and for related tasks (Weisen, 2018).

            When I was first introduced to technology uses in my online classrooms, AOL was my online research tool of choice (option), but really, the only tool available to me at the time. Needless to say now, the use of technology in the classroom has exploded. As I commented in our Week 7 Discussion Board, “Learners utilizing a Next Generation Learning Management System (NG LMS) want to be afforded the capability to look for opportunities to learn on their own, to take advantage of ever-evolving digital transformations. As an instructional designer we can only serve our students in every capacity by capitalizing on every aspect of technology use.

Last winter, when tutoring ESL students, I created a motivational atmosphere by adding incentive-based learning to our program. I did not realize at the time that I was utilizing a Behavioralist approach (as I do know now). As ESL tutors, we were finding it difficult to convince the learners that it was very important to practice English in between class meeting times – not exactly written homework, but still homework. I designed a structure for the students to document how many times per day in 15-minute increments, and a mandatory requirement that it was using only English, that they:  watched TV, listened to the radio, use a computer, read the newspaper, a book, a magazine or bus schedule, texted, spoke to or with their friends, their children’s teachers, the doctor, wrote a note or list, or made a visit to their local library. The list was quite expansive. At first, the program was a bit slow to take off. It took a few weeks for their motivation to kick in.

At that point, just sharing how much time they each personally dedicated to English practice wasn’t enough. So, I got creative and picked up nominally priced gift items that I knew they’d enjoy “winning”. It was around Christmas time, so that made it fun. The action picked up when two of the male students somewhat started a mini-competition between themselves to see how often they be ahead of each other on a class night. This all was based on an honor system, and I did believe they were being truthful – many provided written notes of their practice time and dates, and by our encouragement, others documented their work using a SmartPhone App. I knew this incentive program was really working when they actively provided specific details of their English practice, and started lining up their prizes on their desks. Finally, the female students jumped into the game. They also started trading their prizes. About 6 weeks into this program, this behavioralist/motivational/rewards/incentive-based program was running on its own. The need to hand out prizes became unnecessary, and their competitive discussions (in English of course) continued.

Later in this program, in early spring, it was quite rewarding to learn that a few of these students were promoted in their respective jobs, two obtained citizenship, a few obtained library cards, some started using the library to learn computer skills, and two enrolled in a local community college for career development … we did it!

Reference:

Wiesen, G. (2018). What is knowledge acquisition? In H. Bailey (Ed.), WiseGeek. Retrieved 23 December 2018 from https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-knowledge-acquisition.htm

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