Learning ordinarily can be explained as a process that results in behavioral changes in the learner that are considerably permanent. However effective learning requires use of certain techniques and methods that can be implemented so as to ensure that the knowledge is properly assimilated and used in the future. This is because learning is not always the result of simple teaching or mere instruction.
Traditional learning strategies or methods required teachers to simply pass on the information to the students through concepts and theories. However this technique often failed since the information wasn’t often completely accepted and utilized practically by the students. Effective learning strategies allow people to not only get the requisite information but also develop different views of looking at the concepts and implementing and utilizing these concepts. Before deciding on the learning techniques certain aspects need to be taken into consideration such as the material to be taught and how it can be molded to fit into the different learning methods, the students or learners to be taught and their details such as age, level of education etc and finally the conditions or environment under which the teaching is to take place. There are various factors such as heredity, environmental impressions and upbringing of individuals that determine their ability to understand and perceive information. Concrete perceivers are those who can understand and process information through direct experience such as through actual experiments, sensing and feeling of objects etc. Abstract perceivers on the other hand can understand and process information better through observation and analysis along with thinking. Active perceivers need to put the information gained to practice so as to assimilate it better and reflective perceivers reflect on the experience to understand it better.
One of the relatively new approaches in learning psychology is the use of different learning strategies based on different learning styles of people. This recognizes and uses multiple intelligence theory as a base in devising the different learning techniques for different people. Some of these different techniques to effective learning include:
- Visual or spatial learning style: This style revolves around use of images and pictures to transfer the information and is well suited for learners with high spatial intelligence.
- Auditory style: Learners can be taught using sounds or music.
- Logical or mathematical style: In this style the transfer of information is done using logic and reasoning.
- Social or interpersonal style: These learners assimilate information better when it is transferred in a group environment.
- Solitary or Intrapersonal style: Here transfer of information is done on a solitary basis or ordinarily where self study is followed. E learning uses solitary style of information transfer with great effectiveness.
- Verbal or Linguistic style: These learners score high in verbal skills and so information can be better assimilated through speech or in written form.
Often for effective learning one or more of these styles are combined so as to ensure that the learning goals are met. Other important aspects that need to be kept in mind while devising learning methods include:
- Information is better processed and remembered for a longer period of time only when the individuals get a chance to put it into practice.
- Also effective learning can occur only where the learning environment is an open and encouraging one and where the individuals have the chance to express their viewpoints and their understanding along with their queries and where they also get proper feedback on their expressed ideas. Feedback should not be too critical but should be analytical and suggestive in nature.
- Any learning style should be one that motivates the learners in their effort to gain information. It should give confidence to the learners. Only when the learner is motivated can he make headway into his area of enquiry. So the learning style and the way the material is presented should seem relevant and interesting to the learner.
- A good learning style engages the learner and should offer the learner with concepts, information that seems familiar and interesting. At every step the guidance of the teacher should be available to the learner. Truly effective learning also ensures that the learner is given problems that can gauge the core understanding of the learner about the subject matter.
- Collaborative or group style of learning can help the learner share his understanding with his team and this is also different than the routine textbook – lecture approach. A collaborative approach can also encourage curiosity far more than an individualistic approach.
- An effective learning style encourages active participation of the learner beyond mere listening and this is done through touching, experimenting, watching etc. This is why cognitive learning scores high in its effectiveness.