• Coping with complexity in the classroom: On memory and learning styles

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    TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

    TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

    Part 2
    LAST week we began our discussion on complexities in the classroom by defining what complexity and complex mean. Our source defines complexity as “the quality or state of not being simple; of being complex–a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand.”<www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/complexity>;complex means “involving a lot of different but related parts:difficult to understand or find an answer to because of having many differentparts. <dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/complex>.

    Having shared with readers how a MAEd class mind-mapped what culture is to better understand classroomcomplexity due to cultural diversity,we proceed to discuss other sources of complexity in the classroom–memory and learning styles and some ways to cope with these.

    Given differences among learners in remembering and learning, howcan teachers help create a learning environment to ensure that learners thrive well academically? A basic knowledge of memory–of how long learners remember and how individual learners learn best, could help the teacher in this regard.

    Sensory, short-term, working and long-term memory. Sensory memory is a brief recall of what one has just seen or heard. Short-term memory covers a brief span of time, such that if it were in a culinary arts class, one recalls a taste of a recipe the class prepared a week before. Researchers also refer to a working memory to distinguish it from short-term memory, though the two overlap. Working memory is “the ability of our brains to keep a limited amount of information available long enough to use it.This is why it is similar to short-term memory. Working memory helps process thoughts and plans, as well as carries out ideas.” Such recalled information could be nestled inone’s store of information, with the brain concentrating more to remember certain parts that are of immediate need. Thus, even without electronic aids, researchers would know how to compute for the significance of a null hypothesis by drawing from their store of memory in statistics. Finally, there is the long-term memory which can last through decades. Information which moves from the sensory or the short-term memory to the long-term memory fosterssuccessful learning to take place.

    Learning styles. Difference in learning styles is also a source of complexity in the classroom. Teachers have to contend with these varying learning styles. There are visual, auditory, tactile/ kinaesthetic and global-analytic continuum learners.

    Visual learners. These learners learn best from “pictures, symbols, numbers, letters, and especially words.”Teachers are advised to have pupils spell anew word and have it used in a sentence. The repetition of recall such as self-activity by learners, the more assured would be the recall of the intended learning.In the upper years or in graduate studies, the students are not asked to merely use a terminology in a sentence. For example,the terms ontological or positivist approach in research,require students to describe features of the approach and illustrate through examples. In presenting technical knowledge to graduate students, they more readily come up with correct examples as the terminologies are associated with, or match that which they have in their working memory. In this sense, constructivism is applied to facilitate learning new knowledge.

    For both graders and young adults and even graduate students who are visual learners, pictures could be powerful media to put across—for example, global phenomena—pictures of an endless barren rice field, or a garden full of blooms, or an emaciated boy in some corner street probing for something to eat from garbage, or dead bodies ofbabies drowned in Macedonian waters—would give the right messages we wish to put across.

    Auditory learners. These are learners “who learn bestwhile they are actively listening,find conventional study practices, such as making notes directly from a textbook, not terribly effective. They much prefer to ingest information through audio or video clips, or by discussing a topic.”<www.thestudygurus.com/auditory-study-tips/>Tactile/Kinesthetic learners. The tactile/kinesthetic(American English), kinaesthetic(British English),learners or tactile learnerslearn best by doing or performing, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.Through projects such as mini-books, games, dioramas, skits, model-making, building blocks, art materials, math manipulatives, tactile learners can best express what they have learned. While tactile learning involves fine motor movements,kinesthetic learning involves whole body movement.<https://child1st.com/…/113559047-16-characteristics-of-kinesthetic-and-tactile-learner…>. Thus,the latter would fit well in sports and the performing arts.For this type of learners, weborrow an approach suggested by Confucius when he said: I hear and I know; I see and I understand;I do and I will never forget.

    Global-Analytic continuum learners.Finally, these are the either global or analytic learners. “The global extreme in this continuum is seen in students who benefit by seeing the end result, the whole picture, the goal they are reaching for.” Theyaremore comfortable working in a flexible, learning environment, are more challenged by open-ended questions, relate their learning to their personal life, and are good at multi-tasking.” While global learners prefer to work in groups, “analytical learners prefer working alone.”They prefer to learn step by step andare“very comfortable in a structured, ordered environment and generally finish one thing before beginning another.”<https://people.creighton.edu/~abs40223/matrix_2/styles_global.htm>. Theselearners appreciate a well-structured learning environment.

    Next week:multiple intelligences as sources of complexity in the classroom and ways to cope with such.

    The author, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended top universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland). (Email:ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph)

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