Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

September 18, 2012

How Do Students Best Learn?

When students graduate from high school, they should know their preferred learning styles. If so, they can choose higher education that best suits these styles as well as classes and study environments that help rather than hinder their learning.

Just posing the question, “How do you learn best?” may not yield answers immediately. Try using some images from Classroom Portraits by Julian Germain, captured in the article, “How Children Learn: A World Tour of Class Portraits,” by Maria Popova ,

Putting some or all of these images in front of the students may result in some of the following type of comments.

  • “I couldn’t learn in a classroom with fifty or sixty people!”

  • “I couldn’t learn standing up”

  • “Those desks look uncomfortable”

  • “I couldn’t concentrate with a dog in the classroom”

  • “I wouldn’t want to be only with other girls” or “I like single-sex classes”

  • “I wish my desk was that big!”

  • “I am glad that our uniform does not require a tie!” or “I would hate a uniform!”

  • “How could a teacher teach all of those boys at once?”

These types of comments can then lead to reflection or conversation about these topics. I learn best . . .

  • Alone or with lots of people

  • In a quiet classroom or a lively one

  • With space or crammed in with others

  • With or without distractions – opposite sex, a dog in the classroom

  • Wearing my own clothes or with a uniform

  • Sitting or standing

  • Listening or talking

This could move on to discussions such as . . .

  • I find that music helps me concentrate or distracts me

  • Doodling during lectures helps me listen

  • Taking down notes helps me learn the material

  • I prefer group work to solitary work

  • I find myself thinking through test material while running

Helping students learn how they best do homework, study for tests, research, or take tests is valuable knowledge both for them and for you. Students can also share ideas about how they discovered their own best environments. The idea that the quiet bedroom is the ideal study place may work for some students, may not work for others, or may not be an option for still others.

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