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Teaching Styles: Everything you need to know about teaching methods and strategies

Have you ever thought about how each classroom teaches things differently? In this article, we answer what are teaching styles, why are there multiple teaching styles, what are the different styles, and which style works the best today?

Teaching styles

What are teaching styles?

Teaching styles, also called teaching methods, are considered to be the general principles, educational, and management strategies for classroom instruction.

The use of different teaching styles started in the beginning of the twentieth century. This was due to the amount of research being poured into different learning methods. Once we understood that everybody learns differently, it became obvious that there need to be different teaching styles to accommodate the learning styles.

Two philosophers, John Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (On Education), developed different theories as to how to educate which lead us to have the idea of different teaching styles today. Locke saw the importance of developing a child’s physical habits first anything else. To Locke, this was essential to a child’s development. Rousseau believed that education should be more centered on a child’s interactions with the world and the teaching style should concentrate less on books.

Why have different teaching styles?

Why can’t everyone be taught the same way? Well, why can’t you learn something the same way as your partner or next door neighbor? Everybody learns different ideas at different times at different paces. Some people can learn something on the first try after being told what to do whereas others might need to have hands-on experience in order to learn and possibly repeat it a few times to really get the hang of things. 

Different teaching styles are necessary because the students need to be able to learn what the teacher is teaching. However, the choice of teaching styles used can also depend on the school mission statement, the classroom demographics, the educational philosophy of the teacher, and most importantly, the subject area.

Types of teaching styles:

There are five main types of teaching styles and methods to choose from.

  • The Authority method, also known as the lecture style, involves sitting and listening to the instructor speak about a pre-assigned topic while the students take notes and memorize to the best of their ability what is being said. This particular style is more popular in universities and some high schools due to a larger student population. However, less common in the standard classroom setting due to its lack of allowance of student participation and inability to meet individual needs. The Authority method, also known as the lecture style, involves sitting and listening to the instructor speak about a pre-assigned topic while the students take notes and memorize to the best of their ability what is being said. This particular style is more popular in universities and some high schools due to a larger student population. However, less common in the standard classroom setting due to its lack of allowance of student participation and inability to meet individual needs.
  • The Demonstrator method, widely known as the coaching style, similar to the lecture style, The Demonstrator method tries to maintain authority in the classroom. Even so, instead of using only a verbal lecture to give information and teach, this style coaches students using gateways like multimedia presentations, class activities and demonstrations. For subjects like music, art, and physical education subjects, this style is perfect because the demonstration is usually necessary to acquire a full understanding of the subject. However, a downside is that there is little individual interaction between the teacher and students which makes it difficult to accommodate to personalized needs.
  • The Facilitator style recognized also as the activity or action method, tries to encourage self-learning through peer-to-teacher learning. In contrast to the lecture style, teachers ask students to question rather than give them the answer. The goal is for students to develop a deeper understanding of the topic by using self-discovery and develop problem-solving skills. This technique is best used in small classroom settings because, as a facilitator, the teacher needs to interact with students on an individual basis, which can be difficult with a larger number of students.
  • The Delegator style, or group method, is used for school subjects that require group work, lab-based learning, or peer feedback. For example, science classes and certain language learning classes. The teacher acts as a delegator, becoming an observer to promote peer collaboration and encourage student-to-student learning. The Delegator style is becoming more and more popular throughout many classrooms. However, some people consider other styles to be more proactive due to the fact that the group method removes the teacher from a position of authority.
  • Last, but not least, the Hybrid method, also known as blended learning, is an integrated teaching style that incorporates personal preferences, individual personalities, and specific interests into their teaching. It’s popular in English, science, and religion classes because it’s easy to incorporate extra-curricular knowledge into a developed, deeper knowledge of a particular topic. Some argue that this style weakens the learning process because the teacher tries to be all things to all students.
Teaching style

Teaching style Inventory

Teaching styles can also be organized into four categories with two parameters each: a teacher-centered approach versus a student-centered approach, and high-tech material use versus low-tech material use.

Teaching Styles: Student-Centered Approach

In a student-centered approach to learning, teachers and students share the focus and interact equally while the teacher still maintains authority. This can be beneficial to students because group work is encouraged; thus, communication and collaboration are used and encouraged. However, due to the fact that students are talking, classrooms may be noisier and may be more difficult to manage.

One method to use is inquiry-based learning which makes the teacher more of a supportive figure (rather than completely authoritative) who can provide support and guidance throughout the learning process. By being an inquiry-based learning facilitator, the teacher and student undergo the learning process together with student learning lightly guided by the teacher. By being the personal model, comparable to the personal model in the direct instruction, the teacher acts as the guide and mentor to help enable students to learn by observation and copying the teacher’s actions. By using the delegator method, teachers act as a support for students, are able to answer questions and most importantly are there to provide a sense of freedom and independence for the student.

Another method commonly used is the cooperative learning style where students work in small groups and the teacher can act as the facilitator, where everyone learns together, or as the delegator, where the teacher gives more free-reign to the student while still pointing them in the right direction.

Teaching Styles: Teacher-Centered Approach

In the teaching styles, especifically the teacher-centered approach to learning, the students put their attention on the teacher, students work alone, and collaboration is prevented. This is great because students are, in theory, quiet and paying full attention to the teacher while being able to make individual decisions. However, a student may suffer in their communication skills and feel unable to ask questions due to the fact they normally work alone and quietly. Plus, this classic method is sometimes thought of as dull and uninteresting.

Direct instruction is a method that uses little technology and relies on lecturing. The teacher may take on the formal authority role, where the teacher is in power due to their senior and level of knowledge over the students. They may also take on the expert role where students can be referred to as “empty vessels” because they are viewed solely as receptors of information and knowledge. The other role a teacher can take on in the direct instruction method is that of a personal model. This method uses the teacher as a model of instruction, to lead by example, and students learn by observation.

Teaching Styles: High-Tech Approach

Many schools and classes are taking advantage of the recent advancements in technology which has enabled us to develop a high-tech approach to learning.

The flipped classroom is a high-tech idea developed in 2007 by two teachers who began to pre-record their lectures which allow students to learn from home by completing assignments to go along with the lectures. This is great if students want to work at their own pace, but if there’s a slow internet connection it’s near impossible to use this method.

Inquiry-based learning can involve technology by asking the students a question about the world and they have to do some research. The findings could be presented in the forms of a website, self-made videos, or PowerPoints.

Based on the man who founded Outward Bound, expeditionary learning is a project-based learning involving expeditions and engagement in in-depth topics that impact their schools, communities, and lives. This was created so students can see how problem-solving is happening in the real world, that is, the world around them. A student in NYC could study statistics about the pollution surrounding them or a student from Alaska could study the snow impact from where they live. G-Suite (Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive) is used for this method because it helps students collect and show research in a way that makes it easy for everyone.

Personalized learning is a relatively new style of teaching that, as the name gives away, is all about personalizing the student’s method of learning according to their specific interests and skills. It’s founded on the idea of student self-direction and choice. The assessments are also personalized and quite individual by using a competency-based progression. This means that once a student has mastered a certain skill or subject, they can move on to the next level, regardless of their current grade level. There is also an emphasis on college and career preparation involved because students work on their own, with a mentor (boss) guiding them along. The technology involved is, like the learning itself, quite personalized. However, everyone involved will need to have a certain comfort level with navigating online lessons and programs between the student and instructor.  

Another high-tech learning option is game-based learning which encourages students to develop a “mastery” mindset rather than focus too much on grades. Students develop problem-solving skills by working on accomplishing a specific goal (also known as a learning objective) by choosing actions and different activities and then experimenting with them to achieve the goal. As students progress, they can earn badges and points, as they would in video games. Some of the software that makes game-based learning possible on the teacher’s part is 3DGameLab and Classcraft. Although this style of teaching isn’t completely student-centered, it’s still rather relatively focused on the student because they are able to work at their own pace and make independent choices while still in a gaming environment.

Low-Tech Approach

Some schools or teachers may not enjoy or have the money for high-tech learning and instead, they opt for a low-tech approach to teaching by using a technique called kinesthetic learning. Also known as tactile learning or hands-on learning, kinesthetic learning is a teacher-centered approach that uses the concept of multiple intelligences, the idea that everyone has a strong suit in certain intelligences than in others (i.e. better with words than math). Instead of lectures, students use physical activities to learn. For example, drawing, role-playing, and building. This isn’t as common of a teaching style one might think. However, this teaching style rarely uses technology by putting a stronger emphasis on movement and creativity. Because of this, it’s a cheap and screen-free teaching style.

Another low-tech teaching method is differentiated instruction. Although this is a student-centered teaching style that aims to meet a student’s specific needs, it is mostly implemented by the teacher. Used commonly with students with special needs, differentiated instruction became popular in the United States in 1975 when a law was passed that ensure every child has equal access to an equal education. Some examples of differentiated instruction could include having students read books at their own reading levels or offering different spelling tests to different students depending on their literacy ability. Due to the lack of necessity to use technology and the adaptability of the teaching style, it’s a low-key and traditional teaching style.

Teaching styles crossed referenced PhotoCredit: teach.com

What teaching style is best for today’s students?

As a teacher, it’s difficult to cater to each student’s needs. Constructivist teaching style follows the theory that learning is an active, constructive, and valuable process. It carries with it the idea that people construct their own personal reality and any new information is given is then linked and connected to prior knowledge. Every person will bring with them cultural factors and past experiences to the table. Thus, any mental representation is made personal and individual. The constructivist teaching style assumes that all knowledge is constructed from information given in the past, regardless of how one is taught. It’s important to keep this idea in mind when choosing a teaching style.

Some students might learn better with being an empty vessel and having information, simply processed data, lectured to them. This is a form of passive learning and is commonly used when “teaching to the test,” meaning that the teaching style is structured to pass a certain exam like the ACT, for example.

Proven to be the most effective in a number of ways, an active learning style is best suited for interactive classrooms. That is to say, both the teacher and the student are engaged in the teaching style and learning process which helps the student gain knowledge, information modeled to be useful.

Do you have any fun teaching styles or strategies? What’s your favorite way that you were taught in school? Let us know in the comments below.

Critical Thinking: How to Develop It at Home and at School

What is critical thinking? It’s a way of reasoning and questioning things to help us make better decisions. We’ll explain what critical thinking is and how you can improve it daily. You’ll also learn how to boost a child’s critical thinking at school! Andrea Garcia Cerdan explains below.

Critical thinking

What is critical thinking? It’s the ability to think clearly and rationally, and understand the logical connection between ideas. Critical thinking allows us to think independently and reflexively.

Thinking critically requires the ability to reason and learn actively, not passively. This means taking an active approach to learning information, rather than just letting the information reach you.

People with developed critical thinking skills question ideas and thoughts and don’t take everything they hear as fact. They work to get a rounded view of an argument or idea, research and thinking reasonably about each possibility, and welcome a contradictory view. They don’t see an argument as something negative, but rather a chance to grow and learn.

Characteristics of a critical thinker:

  • Understands the connections between ideas
  • Determines the importance of these ideas
  • Recognizes and creates valid arguments
  • Identifies inconsistencies and reasoning errors
  • Approaches problems consistently and systematically
  • Reflects on their own beliefs, thoughts, and values

Critical thinking is a great decision-making tool, but that doesn’t mean that we always have to think critically because not every decision is important. Think about it: you could think critically about whether you’re going to eat salmon or chicken, but probably not a life-changing decision. When you’re in one of these situations where you have to make a decision, it’s better to be intuitive than critical. You’ll save time and psychological resources that you could be using to solve another problem.

How can you boost critical thinking?

1.Don’t believe everything you hear

The first step to improving your critical thinking skills is to evaluate the information that you receive on a daily basis. Before doing something based on information that someone else told you, do your own research! Think about the problem and what possible solutions may be. Need some help coming up with answers? Maybe you want to improve your creative thinking as well! You have to decide for yourself what you want to do and what you believe is best, and evaluating all of the possibilities is a great way to do that.

2. Define you goals

What do you want to do? What’s your goal? How are you going to make it happen? Knowing what the goal is is an important part of creating a plan to get it done.

3. Research

We’re constantly being bombarded with information which can sometimes be overwhelming, but this constant information can actually help you make better decisions. When you’re faced with a problem or decision that you’re not sure about, look online, ask a forum, read a book, watch a documentary, or get in touch with someone who might be able to help you. Look at different opinions and arguments and look at it from all sides. The more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to make a good decision.

4. Don’t assume that you’re always right

Everyone loves being right. It makes us feel like we know everything and can be a mood booster. But thinking that other arguments and ideas aren’t valid closes our eyes to other points of view. Your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs are just one possible solution, but there are other equally valid ideas that you should get to know and respect. Open your mind to other perspectives.

5. Don’t complicate things

There is a line of thinking that’s often used in scientific research when they’re trying to figure out which hypothesis is correct. It’s called Occam’s razor, and it’s the idea that when there is more than one possible answer, go with the simpler one until proven false.

6. Divide the problem into parts

When you’re faced with a difficult problem, try to break it up into smaller, more manageable parts. You’ll find it easier to evaluate and take on each different part of the puzzle on it’s own.

Developing Critical Thinking in the Classroom

One of the most important things that we can teach our children is showing them how to think, argue, research, and make their own ideas and opinions about diverse topics. Learning to do this as children will make it easier to do as adults, when the decisions and topics are more serious and have potentially serious consequences. Learning to how to question things and not believe every word they hear, read, see, etc. will help them make their own decisions in the future.

So, how can we help develop critical thinking skills at school?

1. Group work

Working as a team helps children learn to think. When they’re surrounded by classmates and have to work together to talk about their ideas and thoughts, not only will they be exposed to other ideas, but they’ll have a chance to form their own opinion.

2. Let them use their creativity

Creativity is a skill that we have since birth, but using it more helps us develop and strengthen it. Learning to use creativity to solve problems can help us come up with ideas that we might not have thought of before, which is why it’s so important to use in a classroom. Instead of giving kids instructions to something, let them try to figure out how to do it on their own. Give them space to problem solve and use different theories to get the job done without a specific plan.

3. Don’t run to their aid right away

Children will get used to having things done for them. If they try to do something and ask for help, you might be inclined to solve the problem for them, which will inhibit their ability to problem solve on their own. It’s better to let them struggle and think of the answer on their own rather then run in and save them right away. For example, if they’re having trouble with a math problem, ask them questions to help them figure it out on their own.

4. Have brainstorming sessions

Brainstorming is a great way to help develop critical thinking. It helps the child reason and see different possibilities and points of view. Ask them questions like: “What is the book about? or What do you think you’re going to learn in this chapter?

5. Compare and contrast

A great way to help students learn to think critically is to let them compare and contrast the information that they have available to them. It can be about anything-books, hobbies, favorite x. You can do the same thing with a pro and con list.

6. Ask them questions

Asking questions helps students reflect and apply what they’ve learned to a real situation, which will help them consolidate the information and create an informed response. You can ask things like: “Do you agree with this? Which option do you think is better? Explain why you think this happened. Try to avoid questions with a yes or no answer and make them think and develop a response.

7. Let them debate

Debated are a great tool to help students reflect and thinking about a topic and develop opinions about what they’re learning.

A good way to promote critical thinking is to let each child defend an opinion. Do you think we should have uniforms at school? Break the kids into groups or assign each one a side to take and let them debate.

The video below will give you some more great ideas to improve critical thinking. Check it out!

 

Did we leave you with questions? Leave us a comment below! 🙂

 

This article was originally written in Spanish by Andrea Garcia Cerdan

Blended Learning: Why It’s Taking The Lead In Education

We have all used different methods of ‘blended learning’ models when being educated in our classrooms and trained in the workplace. Whether we realized it or not, blended learning has been incorporated in most institutions and companies through various technology platforms designed to enhance the learner’s needs since the term was coined in the late nineties. Learn more about blended learning in this full guide. 

Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

Although the term is quite ambiguous, it can extensively be defined as: ‘any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace’ (Blended Learning Universe, 2016). Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before. The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods

Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before.

The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods are benefiting as an integrated learning experience throughout the U.S.

Horn and Staker (2015) define Blended Learning as “…any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”

The approach of blended learning is to utilize the use of technology in the classroom to optimize student education through online and face-to-face interaction. The usage of blended learning gives us an opportunity to reform the traditional school model and to express student-centered learning.

How does Blended Learning Work? What is being ‘Blended?’

When educators implement a new learning program, it is important to recognize the learners’ needs and abilities in order to make learning a meaningful and emotional experience.The complexity of our neural networks allows us to have unique individual preferences and learning styles. Blended Learning can be applied right in the traditional setting of a classroom.

Depending on the teacher, different models are used to support the use of technology to expand learning materials and discussion both inside and outside of the classroom. A true ‘blend’ of instruction uses elements that help students and teachers communicate inside and outside of the classroom. Using digital tools for learning such as Google Docs and Word do not necessarily apply to this method.

Instead, blended learning is an integrated learning experience that provides modules to blend the course of study with a teacher being active in the process. An example would be students attending class face-to-face and then go home to have a virtual meeting lecture on the computer and coming back the next day to discuss everything in small groups during a lab.

There is almost always a type of tracking system implemented on the site to track students’ progress. Sometimes it is easy to confuse the blended learning method with a “technology-rich” classroom. Both share the usage of technology and digital tools but are certainly not the same thing. Teachers using only digital textbooks, learning apps, online lesson plans, and Google Docs do not qualify as the blended learning curricula. Students must have some type of control at their own pace for individualized learning. Presently, blended learning does not have one main authority definition. The combination of intellectual methods are made up of information technology, video conferences, and the use of online activities and learning support systems such as self-paced lessons.

Six common models being used today are explained below.

What are the Types of Blended Learning Models?

There are six standard models of blended learning used for teachers. Three models address the different cognitive and social-emotional abilities of students. The six types are identified as:

  • Face-to-Face Driver is represented as the most traditional by having a physical teacher present or to employ online learning.
  • Rotation means that students will alternate between self-paced online learning and being in the classroom with a teacher. This model includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation. In the ‘flipping’ method, professors and teachers use online media to deliver lectures, notes, and feedback. Students can study and review the material at their own pace. The model is implemented with a student-centered perspective which allows students to learn individually.
  • Flex is the online platform used.
  • Online Lab delivers the course in a brick-and-mortar (traditional) setting.
  • Self-Blend model, more commonly known as A La Carte, gives students the freedom to choose remote online courses to supplement their school’s curriculum with something that is more individual. The students can take multiple courses either entirely online at home or in a regular classroom.
  • Online Driver program is also known as Enriched Virtual is used completely online where students can divide their time between a traditional classroom and at home. Unlike the Flipped classroom, the Online Driver does not require daily school attendance. Teachers can apply their programs to have available or mandatory face-to-face check-ins. The Enriched Virtual program is a complete blend of online and brick-and-mortar classroom sessions.

How Does Blended Learning Differ from Traditional Learning?

The rise of blended learning programs represents a shift from traditional instruction in education to optimize student learning in multiple ways. The mixture of this learning experience has allowed learners to recall information so that it can be remembered and combined with new knowledge bases.

Personalized learning is excellent for students who feel lost and overwhelmed in the classroom. The old brick-and-mortar classroom with students learning from one textbook is long, long gone. Blended learning methods help students learn at their own cognitive level of functioning. The Face-to-Face Driver model works best in all classrooms since most students are functioning at different levels of ability. Teachers deliver this model appropriately by allowing a traditional classroom experience and integrating technology. Students who do not feel confident in their work can access the course from home and study at their own pace while students who have mastered the subject can practice and challenge themselves more effectively.

The Rotation model is the most common and allows teachers to switch instructing online and physically face-to-face. Students can be separated based on skill level such as starting instruction in-person before rotating online. More individual assistance is also given to students feeling left behind on a topic. Another model that is viewed as highly successful is the Online Lab school model. It involves students going to a physical classroom that only provides online educational delivery for its courses. The Online Lab is flexible and benefits students who have other responsibilities either at home or they need to move at a much slower pace than traditional classrooms provide. One of the main goals of a blended classroom involves the mission to capture the learners’ attention.

Many instructors design their teaching to acquire the use of both long-term memory and short-term/working memory. Working/short-term memory has to do with what you are actively doing at the moment and temporarily storing information, such as solving math problems.  Long-term memory helps us remember rules and knowledge that is ‘declared.’ An example of declared memory would be having the order of operations memorized. In virtual classrooms, instructors must make sure there is harmony between working and long-term memory. An information overload in a blended approach can cause anxiety and stress. It is important for instructors to design their programs with a few facts in mind:

  • Humans have a working memory limited to five to seven ‘chunks’ of information
  • Humans must have their attention refreshed frequently
  • Recalling information requires more cognitive effort than recognizing information (Marchionini, 1991)

Teachers can add more drop-down menus, touch panels, and clearly marked buttons to put the students’ minds at ease. More information on some challenges of blended learning can be found in the Research in Learning Technology journal. E-learning specialists are taking neuroscience into consideration when developing visual aids for learning. According to Zabisco, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. When learners are connecting with the content, they are going through a cognitive retention process. The medial temporal lobe, where emotions are processed, is also where visual memory is encoded. Students will have a better chance at remembering when text is combined with visual stimuli.

Students can also develop stronger social-emotional learning (SEL) skills when interacting in a blended program. SEL skills are linked to technology use since students can first develop self-awareness and responsibility online to work better in teams when in person. Aside from the traditional objectives in school systems, the new integration of technology and teaching helps bring teachers and students closer together and establish higher quality learning.

How are Blended Learning Environments Created?

Educators should first seek out different strategies to use when designing which type of content would fit best in their classroom. They can use different frameworks such as Content Domain Analysis and Content Level Analysis before going about choosing their blended learning approach. Content Domain Analysis determines the main objectives of the content. It is necessary when it addresses the learners’ needs emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Content Level Analysis is used to clarify the sequence to achieve overall learning goals. One study that consisted of using a blended learning platform (video game-based learning) composed of classroom and e-learning, found that knowledge was increased 14% for procedural and 11% for declarative knowledge (Sitzmann, Ely, 2009).

Declarative knowledge refers to factual knowledge and information that a person knows. Procedural knowledge, on the other hand, has to do with knowing how to perform certain activities (Bruning, 46). These two types of knowledge are useful for determining how to blend face-to-face and self-paced learning courses. An example would be using self-paced and e-learning for developing declarative knowledge while having face-to-face instruction in small groups for procedural knowledge. That way, students can expand on their ‘factual’ knowledge and perform what they have learned with other students and instructors in a classroom lab. Margaret Driscoll (2002) believes that the blended learning paradigm consists of four concepts: combining a variety of networking technologies, self-paced learning, collaborative learning, and streaming videos. The teaching methods used should incorporate many types of psychologyconstructivism, behaviorism, and cognitivism. In order to produce the best outcome, the combination of the blended techniques (web-based, film) with face-to-face training followed by students completing an actual task in-person, can equally create a balance between learning and working.

Blended Learning: A Student-Centered Education

Over the past decade, educators in both secondary and higher educational institutions have realized that students all differ in skill sets and learning abilities. The Whole Child Approach (2014) ensures that each child will be treated as a whole with their socio-emotional, physical, creative, and cognitive capacities being just as important in their overall educational growth. In order to see where a student’s skills lie on the spectrum, a cognitive profile screening can be implemented before selecting the appropriate learning model. Children can be screened at a young age so that their personal learning abilities can be catered to. Developing a blended learning approach in all educational institutions is one step in the right direction to help every child succeed. The models also build upon Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) by selecting strategies to trigger the strength of the students’ multiple learning preferences.

The blended learning paradigm of e-learning with a person-centered approach aims to achieve social and personal development by combining online instruction and face-to-face encounters. Student-centered learning brings out the best in a person’s cognitive functioning. Studies show that it can help with better problem-solving, increased self-confidence, and improve interpersonal skills. Person-Centered Learning was developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987) to address the learner’s intellect, social skills, and personality.

One study targeted the fundamental impact of interpersonal attitudes on the motivation and learning outcomes of students. The study suggested that a blended learning paradigm in which there is room for social and personal processes leads to improved learning only if instructors are perceived as personally well equipped to fill this space (Pitrik & Mallich, 2004). From a perspective of learners, blended learning can be obtained from all options of equipment, tools, media, technology, etc. to match their previous knowledge and learning style to reach current learning objectives.

Blended Learning in the Workplace

There are many advantages to applying blended learning approaches in corporate settings. Face-to-Face instruction and using technology hands-on offers employees a customized training experience. This method allowed employers to track performance goals and concentrate on what skills need further development.

Employees can work on their training off-the-clock to catch up on certain things they need to know for their job duties and reduce job stress. Guides such as tutorials, online forums, and customer-based simulations are all great examples of types of blended learning approaches in the workplace. Organizational learning programs can build employees’ confidence level to improve their job performance and benefit their teamwork skills. In 2015, a Training Magazine learning survey reported that 31.9% of all training was delivered in a blended format. Employees should be encouraged to work on specific skills needed in their workplace.

Companies can help fill skill gaps by determining which eLearning curriculum is needed. An example would be a person working on his or her communication skills at in a web-based seminar that depicts eLearning characters with different personalities. Collaborative activities are also becoming popular to improve teamwork skills.

Blended Learning: The New Future of Education 

A one-size-fits-all educational model does not exist, however, blended and hybrid classrooms are shown to be more effective than traditional teaching methods. While students are becoming more digitally-orientated, educational institutions should be using this as an advantage to further students’ educational success.

A successful classroom includes a range of meaningful activities, assessments, and methods used for the sole purpose of giving every student chance to excel at their best abilities. The elements that make blended approaches so effective are using multiple technology tools, small group work, and freedom of choice. In this study by the Christensen Institute, education researchers said that 4 million elementary through high school student participated in online learning in 2010. The statistics have only shown an increase since then.

Technology and education go hand in hand when teaching and improving cognitive abilities. CogniFit’s brain training program allows not only for students and anyone to train cognitive processes but allow for teachers to keep track of their students through our education platform for school and teachers.

CogniFit- Blended Learning

There must be more blended learning research to gain insight on how it is making an impact through the years. Educators will continue to invent new methodologies for personalized learning models by collaborating our knowledge of individualism with our digital culture.

1. Which isn't one of the four sub-models of Rotation?
  • Hint: Look at flow chart!

References

Ark, T. V. (2016, April 27). Blended, Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning at Thrive Public Schools. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2016/04/blended_project-based_and_social_emotional_learning_at_thrive_public_schools.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3

Assisi, N. (2014, November 24). The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in K-12 Education. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://nextgenlearning.org/blog/importance-social-emotional-learning-k-12-education

Bruning, R. H. (2010). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction (5th ed.). Pearson.

Draffan, E. A., & Rainger, P. (2006). A model for the identification of challenges to blended learning. Research in Learning Technology, 14(1), 55-67. doi: 10.1080/09687760500479787

Marchionini, G. (1991, October). Psychological Dimensions of User-Computer Interfaces. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.ericdigests.org/1992-5/user.htm

Mylavarapu, L. (2016, September 30). The Power Visualization Adds to E-learning. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.elearninglearning.com/blended-learning/cognitive/?open-article-id=5625428&article-title=the-power-visualization-adds-to-e-learning&blog-domain=commlabindia.com&blog-title=commlab-india

Staker, H. (2011). The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models. Innosight Institute.

Willen, L. (2014, May 12). The Learning Accelerator on blended learning: `In the future, we’ll just call it learning’. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/learning-accelerator-blended-learning-future-well-just-call-learning_1462/

Intrinsic Motivation: When You Love Doing What You’re Doing

What drives us to join a dance class or paint a picture? What makes some people choose a certain career path knowing that their economic stability will be challenged? What is it that gives us the energy to strive to reach our goals? The leading force behind all of these decisions is intrinsic motivation. In this article, we’ll talk about how to stay strong and meet your goals when you’re faced with challenges.

Intrinsic motivation

What is intrinsic motivation?

Motivation is a psychological process that helps us carry out and complete determined actions. We can be motivated to do anything, from taking a nap to running from danger. Motivation makes it possible to better adapt to the challenges and situations that we face on a daily basis.

The causes behind motivational processes vary significantly from person to person, and can even change for a single person depending on the circumstances. It’s possible to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation depending on the reasons behind the action.

Intrinsic motivation comes from the inside and happens when you are truly interested in something, without seeking a reward in return. One example of intrinsic motivation may be working at or spending time volunteering at an NGO, knowing that you won’t receive any type of economic compensation.

Extrinsic motivation, however, is driven by the rewards or benefits that we receive in exchange (or avoiding a punishment) for doing something. Think about when someone works extra hard to get a raise at work. In this case, they aren’t working hard for an internal desire to succeed, but rather to receive an economic benefit. There are a number of differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but the main difference is the expectation of receiving benefits or avoiding punishment.

The same task or action can be extrinsically motivated for some and intrinsically motivated for others. For example, there are some people who go to the gym to get something out of it: to lose weight, while others work out for the exercise itself.

This article will focus on intrinsic motivation. Find out its essential aspects and how to improve it.

Intrinsic motivation: Characteristics

  • You can influence intrinsic motivation: You may find that sometimes it’s hard to figure out what challenges will help you get the most from yourself. However, there is always time to find activities that pique your interest.
  • Rewards can make intrinsic motivation disappear: It’s been shown in a number of experiments and cultures that paying for certain tasks may cause a decrease in performance. How can this be possible? According to the theory of overjustification, interest in a job decreases if we are rewarded extrinsically. For example, if you like to draw and you are paid for your word as an illustrator, you may find that your passion starts to feel like an obligation.
  • There are also rewards that strengthen intrinsic motivation: What we said in the previous point is true (reward can have a negative effect on motivation), it’s also true that receiving gratification from people we care about can help strengthen motivation.
  • The difficult of a task affects intrinsic motivation: Challenges teach us to be perseverant and develop our skills as well as possible.We need to be able to believe that it’s possible to overcome any challenge that we’re presented with. On the other hand, tasks that are too easy will be boring and might not be interesting to us. Once you find the perfect balance, you can enjoy the task and get “into the swing of things”, as Csikszentmihalyi says (we’ll talk more about him in the last section).

Intrinsic Motivation: Application and Examples

Intrinsic motivation at schools

Learning, especially at school, is made up of a variety of subjects, some of which may seem more interesting than others. Facing these more challenging subjects can be difficult, and even the subjects that you like can make you feel unmotivated sometimes. What can you do you keep yourself from feeling this lack of motivation?

First, it’s important to reinforce good, productive behavior and reward studying and other activities that are beneficial to learning. Rather than threats and punishment, using positive reinforcement will help associate studying with positive experiences, helping to improve motivation. It’s important to try to make learning a fun activity, rather than a means to an end. The importance of motivation in learning is endless.

It’s easier to learn effectively if you value what you’re learning, spark a curiosity for the information, create good study habits, connect to the content, and find a way to make it relevant to your daily life.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation at work

Intrinsic motivation at work is one of the keys to success in a work environment. We all know the familiar sensation of watching the clock move minute by minute until you can finally start the weekend. However, you’ve probably also realized that when this happens, your productivity drops and you have poorer results. These situations can make you feel even less motivated to work.

Having the job of your dreams may not be as easy as you thought, but luckily there are ways to help you become more motivated at work like taking breaks, being friendly with co-workers, keeping yourself from falling into a rut, and changing up your daily tasks.

Taking some time to dedicate to altruistic activities or activities that help others and not yourself, can also improve motivation in the office. Corporate social responsibility can benefit not only those who are receiving the direct benefits but also those who offer the help.

There are other techniques that many companies use to improve motivation among their workers, like giving them an opportunity to develop personal projects, paying for educational or advancement opportunities, and recognizing a job well-done. Happy, smiling workers are more productive and useful than employees who race out the door at the end of the day.

Intrinsic motivation in daily life

There are a number of situations that we come across in our daily lives that we could do easier and better if we had intrinsic motivation. For example, maybe you would spend more time cooking and creating healthy masterpieces if you enjoyed it, rather than cooking just to eat the next day.

Personal relationships also play a large role in our intrinsic motivation. Creating bonds with other people motivates us to take up new activities or do something you’ve never done. Going out with friends to eat or see a movie are powerful motivators that will help you get to an art exhibit or other show that you’ve never seen before.

Intrinsic motivation: Benefits

  • Improves productivity: Intrinsic motivation helps us have more original ideas and be more creative in our decision making. Because of this, we tend to get less tired when working on tasks with a positive attitude.
  • Improves well-being: Knowing which activities makes you happy means that you can spend more time doing them, rather than doing something that you dread. Working on tasks that you enjoy can become an endless fountain of personal and professional satisfaction.
  • Raises self-esteem and self-efficiency: The amount of effort that you spend on tasks that motivated you are usually reinforced by significant progress and can make you feel competent and satisfied with your work. Who doesn’t like seeing progress being made on their work?
  • Makes you more independent: Intrinsic motivation pushes you to learn more about the areas and activities that you enjoy and are interested in, which means working without anyone telling you to and taking initiative when starting something new.
  • It’s longer lasting than extrinsic motivation: It’s common for motivation to subside once you’ve reached your initial goal. If your motivation extrinsic, you might not feel the need to continue working hard after you finish your last final. However, if you actually enjoy learning the material, you’ll be able to get more out of every class, even when your exams have finished for the semester.

All this talk of intrinsic motivation shouldn’t overlook the importance of extrinsic motivation! For example, a company can’t lower the wages of its employees because they would probably find work elsewhere.

It’s also possible to have both types of motivation. You can start an activity like yoga with the hopes of feeling more relaxed and less anxious, but end up going because you really love it. The best way to achieve this is to stay away from making external or separate rewards your main goal.

How can you develop intrinsic motivation? 5 tips

1. Avoid routine

Monotony causes boredom and can make you tired and lazy. For example, if you like to go running in the morning to wake up and get ready for the day, try to take a new route and explore the area! Adding an extra challenge can help keep you interested in running (not to mention that it’s a great way to train your brain in the city! -along with brain games, of course-)

2. Keep a positive attitude

It’s important to work to reach your goals without putting too much pressure on yourself to be the best. Trusting yourself is crucial to your overall wellbeing. It is also important remember that the key to intrinsic motivation is enjoying the activity itself, not the potential outcome that it may bring. Try to do what you need to do without any negativity or pressure.

3. Set realistic goals

Trying to reach unrealistic goals will end up being counterproductive and can cause you to lose your intrinsic motivation. Be critical of your goals and evaluate whether or not is a realistic goal that you’ll be able to accomplish. It’s better to focus on what you can improve and activities that will help you improve than to get stuck on things that went wrong.

4. Reward yourself

We’ve already said that intrinsic motivation isn’t about the rewards, but recognizing when you’ve done a good job and letting yourself feel good about it is essential to continuing to have the intrinsic motivation that allowed you to get there. You can even think about indulging every once in awhile as a little reward.

5. Spend time with like-minded people

If you love dancing, find a group of friends who you can dance with and make new choreography. It’s important to share your experiences with other people who enjoy the same activities. Luckily, we live in a time where it’s easy to find groups for any type of activity.

Intrinsic Motivation: Authors

-Abraham Maslow

Maslow is one of the most relevant theories when it comes to motivation. This humanist psychologist is especially known for having created Maslow’s Pyramid that provides a hierarchy of human needs. Intrinsic motivation is particularly linked to the top of the pyramid, based on the necessities of self-realization. This is where we are able to reach maximum existence and develop our potential.

Albert Bandura

This psychologist created the theory of self-efficacy, which is the idea that a person’s opinion about the execution of a task depends on their expectations of success, perseverance, and how much they dedicate to it. For example, if you see that after spending time and working to improve, your Spanish or French improves, you’ll feel proud and able to perfect the language at some point.

Eduard Deci and Richard Ryan

These two psychologists worked together to create the theory of self-determination, which is the idea that we do activities that we enjoy, rather than those that we don’t enjoy and aren’t interested in. This theory is especially relevant and applied to athletics. It is important to be independent when making decisions.

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This specialist in positive psychology is dedicated to studying the state of flow that takes place when we focus on a task that is neither too easy nor too difficult. In these situations, you tend to lose the sense of time and can spend hours on a single task. A common example of this is when a painter is completely absorbed in their work and they lose track of time.

Csikszentmihalyi is an expert in creativity and has interviewed a number of experts in order to better understand their flow. In this video, he will explain part of his discoveries and the importance of intrinsic motivation.

Thanks for writing! If you have any questions, leave me a comment below 🙂

This article was originally written in Spanish and translated to English.

15 Ways to Train Your Brain Before School Starts

Summer is coming to a close soon for many of us. Going back to school can be exciting for those of us who love to work our minds to the fullest every single day. However, the majority of us tend to suffer from “Summer Brain Drain,” where our brains become lazy due to severe learning loss after the school year finishes. This feeling of inner lethargy overtakes most of us as we spend our vacation months in full relaxation mode. If you feel you have suffered from the pains of summer brain drain for the past few months, then don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time to train your brain before school starts so that we can enter into the new school year with a productive attitude and a strong brain ready for success!

2. How long is the normal summer vacation?
  • In the US, most schools have a 3 month summer vacation

3. How long does it take students to forget almost all of the information they've learned?
  • We start forgetting information as soon as 1 day after learning new information, but after 30 days we only remember about 2-3% of what we've learned!

4. When students return back to school after summer vacation, how long does it take them (on average) to re-learn all the material they were taught the previous school year?
  • According to Dr. Harris Cooper, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, students lose about 1-3 months of learning during summer break. This means that teachers must invest at least 4-6 weeks in order to re-teach past material that students should already know coming into the new school year. Therefore, if students return to school at the beginning of September, they might be spending all their school days re-learning old material until Halloween.

5. Which of the following activities DOESN'T keep your brain sharp?
  • Watching TV is a passive activity and requires very little work on our brain's part. Do something that makes your brain work!

6. Is sleep good or bad for our memory?
  • Sleep is always good, as long as it's restorative and not out of boredom. Our bodies need sleep to help us integrate all of the new information we've learned!

One great point to note is that anyone can strengthen his or her brain power at any age! Many people have the misconception that only adolescents and adults in their 20s to 30s have the potential to increase their brain stamina, but this is not true. Due to neuroplasticity, where the brain gradually forms new neural pathways and reacts to changing circumstances, our brains have the ability to adapt to any situation, even in old age.

Neuroplasticity is what will guide our brains to reach its ultimate manpower. Once you build positive learning habits and regularly engage in beneficial activities for your brain, the neurons in your brain will increase and the pre-existing ones will be strengthened even more than before. This will help you to improve in your cognitive abilities, enhance your learning potential, and widen your field of memory.

Here are 15 Tips to Train Your Brain Before School Starts:

1. Exercise

Probably one of the most important ways to keep your brain in tip-top shape is to exercise! Working out your body will increase the levels of oxygen flowing to your brain and will reduce your risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It can even prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Usually, for patients suffering from many physical and mental illnesses, their first suggestion for wellness is to exercise. Even if you’re not really into cardio or heavy-weight training, a simple 30-minute jog will do just the trick!

Exercising regularly enhances the release of special neurotransmitters called endorphins. These include dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which contribute to your overall mood and reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

Also, exercise contributes to neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new interneuron connections.

2. Read

If you want to improve your brain functioning on multiple levels, then you should read more in your spare time. Whether it be from fictional novels to real-life narratives to articles in your favorite magazine, reading is one of the best ways to strengthen the higher-order thinking processes of your brain. Plus, reading allows you to become more creative in your thoughts, your actions, and your conversations with others!

In a study performed at Emory University titled, “Short and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain,” researchers found that becoming immersed in a fictional novel enhances connections of neurons in the brain and improves overall brain function. Also, they found that reading fiction was found to strengthen a reader’s ability to put himself in another person’s shoes, empathize, and imagine in a way similar to actual visualization (meaning, the readers were able to imagine the stories read as though they were actual movies being watched).

To find out more about how reading enhances brain functioning, check out this article: “Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Functioning,” by Christopher Bergland.

3. Learn a new language

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It is never too late to diversify your tongue with a new language! In a study led by Dr. Thomas Bak at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences, he found that young adults proficient in a second language performed significantly better on attention and concentration tests than their counterparts who only knew one language, irrespective of whether they had learned that language during infancy, childhood, or adolescence.

If you feel it might be difficult to learn a new language, then there are plenty of easy resources available today. Programs like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Mondly by ATi Studios and more offer apps that can be downloaded on your smartphone so you can gradually work your way into different languages. You can tune-in to videos on the Internet with instructors who specialize in various languages. Also, foreign films are great to watch if you really want to pick up a second language like a pro! Try watching a foreign film with the subtitles on once or twice, then watch it again a few times without the subtitles and see how many phrases and expressions you understand.

4. Old-Fashioned Puzzles

If you want to increase your cognitive abilities, then regular puzzles are great! They train your brain so that you become better in problem-solving skills and recognition of minor details. To get working, you should try your hand at jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, and even games of “Where’s Waldo?”

5. Get involved in a brain training program

Many companies today have developed amazing resources for you to use to boost your brain power. To cater to your convenience, CogniFit brain games offers personalized brain training programs that will target your specific cognitive needs. They also have programs available to help with some learning disorders that may affect your little ones!

6. Challenge your learning capabilities!

Find a subject you are really interested in or a topic that you want to learn more about. Immerse yourself fully into the subject by utilizing all the free assets available at your fingertip. If you register with Coursera.org, they provide many college-level courses that you can follow in a variety of fields, either free of charge or for a small fee. You can follow special channels on social media pages like Crash Course or TedEd to gain plenty of useful knowledge. Also, subscribe to magazines and online newspapers that specialize in your favorite fields, like Psychology Today, Live Science, The New Yorker, and more.

7. Find an artsy way to express yourself

Dig deep down into your inner feelings and look for a means of bringing out your unique soul. Try a hand at drawing, painting, poetry, writing short stories/prose/spoken word, or just vent away in a journal! It will help to boost your creativity levels and diversify your brain wave patterns

8. Visit as many museums and live performances as you can

Museums and exhibits increase our exposure to different forms of art, innovative ideas, and great skills of fellow human beings. Do some research on local museums and try to devote a few hours in your free time to see what is available. Whether it be from fine art to photography, anatomy, feelings, or poetry, there are so many sites to visit. Museums, spoken word café nights, operas, or even high school orchestras are great to awaken the mind and get your creative juices flowing.

9. Recreational outdoor activities

Work your body in ways you have never done before. Become more in-tuned with nature or just try new activities. This will stimulate neuroplasticity in your brain so that you can adapt to new environments and enjoy yourself in the process. Try hiking, rafting, canoeing, rock-climbing, skiing, jet-surfing, and any other fun activity you can think of!

10. Memorize

One of the best ways to increase your brain’s potential is to learn how to memorize. Whether it be from a religious text, any special author’s quotes, song lyrics, poetry verses, you name it, try to memorize. That way, you will gain experience in what methods are best for you in retaining information. Some practical ways of memorizing particular statements, concepts, or ideas are:

a. Rote rehearsal

This involves repeating a phrase over and over again till you can recite it fluently without the help of others

b. Writing

Some people learn better when they copy information over repetitively!

c. Mnemonic devices

Come up with acronyms, cool and catchy phrases, or special tricks to try to remember special material

11. Take on a new hobby/learn a new skill

Challenge your brain so that it really works its neuroplasticity features by doing something that you either have never done before or you’re not so great at. Some suggestions are cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, weight-lifting, getting involved in a sport, writing, drawing, and more. The list is endless!

12. Eat healthy

Of course, your diet impacts the way your body functions, especially your brain! The right foods will impact how much energy you have and how much command your brain has over you. Eating a diet full of healthy nutrients such as those rich in greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds can support mental acuity and alertness.

Certain foods have shown to increase brain strength. For example, foods filled with Omega-3 Fatty Acids like salmon can improve brain function by increasing activity in your prefrontal cortex (which is associated with your working memory).

13. Get enough sleep

Sleep is extremely important to maintain a strong brain. Research suggests that the average adult needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep in order to avoid sleep deprivation. If this amount is not reached, then creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are all compromised!

Studies have shown that even missing one night of sleep will increase the concentration of NSE and S-100B in the blood. These are biomarkers that are released as an alert signal that your brain is in an injurious condition and cannot function properly. When the blood is consumed with these substances, then this means that a severe amount of brain tissue has deteriorated.

14. Spend time with loved ones

Humans are social beings. We thrive on the relationships we have because they keep us well-grounded and motivated to be productive. Research shows that having meaningful friendships and a strong support system are vital to brain health. Studies from the Harvard School of Public Health found that senior citizens with the most social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline.

15. Be happy!

In our fast-paced society, one key factor that many of us forget to take care of is our emotional health. Stress, anger, worry, and anxiety are the brain’s worst enemies, yet many of us fail to realize that. Over time, chronic stress and anxiety destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved with forming new memories and retrieving old ones. To prevent stress from conquering your life, let go of all the major stressors in your life and just be happy! Positive and humanistic psychologists emphasize keeping an uplifting spirit as a way to reach one’s full potential (This was mainly emphasized in the works of Carl Rogers). If you want to stay happy and content with your lifestyle, then smile and laugh more. This will increase your levels of oxytocin secreted, which contributes to your overall feeling of satisfaction. Spend time with fun, carefree, and interesting people. Surround yourself with positive reminders to help lighten up your difficult days. Keep a list of all the things you are thankful for and don’t sweat the small things!

Sources: Source 1, Source 2, CogniFit