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Visual Aids, why are they so effective within certain groups?

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by graeme.bean, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. <font size="2">Working in a technical academy and teaching young adults I have come to recognise the important function visual aids provide, the use of these items is more evident with students who struggle to grasp certain theoretical aspects of the course. I would like to look into the reasoning behind this and try to understand why a certain set of students who struggle with theory manage to excel in practical work. Google has provided me with some good starting points but I was really looking for some insight from other teachers from varying backgrounds and from areas such as this forum. If you could please give me your thoughts or places to gather information I would be extremely grateful. Graeme</font>
  2. It all goes back to the good old learning styles - visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK). Have you googled them?
  3. Thanks, I am reading through a fair amount of information that I have printed off from websites such as 'Managing Change' most of these refer to Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetics. I'm also getting a fair amount of references with regard to brain function and the neural system although I'm not totally sure I want to go too deep into this area. Thanks for the post. Graeme
  4. I think culture would have more to tell you about why particular cohorts of students like theory and some don't. Middle class kids like learning in a vocational way, just like working class kids, but...middle class kids are schooled to behave, read books, do homework etc - this is the culture that produces and reproduces the inequalities in our society, and why schooling is arranged to suit the powerful groups that inform our education systems (reading Bourdieu would help with this).
    Thus, its not about learning styles...afterall we are all human beings with similar physical brains and our brain works on several different tasks at the same time, so isolating one or the other is questionable - but what does differ between cohorts are the experiences that we have, and what they mean to the person who has them. Its about desire to learn, and the purpose of learning being understood - visual aids arguably communicate more of the purpose of learning, because students can see it, and don't have to work as hard to understand, compared to reading (think about the differences between the daily star and the guardian).
    What we have to remember is that school is not a natural enviroment or activity in the history of human evolution - its been around for the masses since about 18th or 19th century, and before this for priests and the aristocracy. We all learn in a practical way, through meaningful transactions and events with meaning - theory is function of practice in this way, and hence understanable. However, there is a heirarchy of knowledge...and book-knowledge or theory, seems to be near the top.
    Once we abstract theory from practice (often referred to as propositional knowledge) and teach it in a school, it becomes decontextualised, boring and meaningless. Middle class kids are schooled and disciplined to put up with this, because they are told by their parents and peers they are the elite and will get a good job and go to university; but they forget facts just like working class kids - the working classes often (but not always) have lower aspirations, and hence, the subject matter that is communicated out of context and lacks purpose...its just too much hassle, because it hardly relates to the futures they imagine for themselves anyway.
    Now coming back to visual aids, lets face it, these can be interesting for the first 15 mins, but then become boring just like the stuff in books, because from where I am with this, the students should be doing it, not just reading or watching. Students like visual aids, because its better than reading, but not as good as doing. Visual aids also support participation, because they evoke a response.

  5. Thank you so much. This information has taken me in a new and interesting direction. Thanks again
  6. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Lead commenter

    An important facet of teaching is to ensure that all terminology can be clearly understood by the student. Each subject has its own terminology and that can be confusing to the student.
    A picture paints a thousand words and an object probably paints ten time that. So for example if I am teaching some theory about electric motors, I would have several examples in front of me, and passed around the class. When talking about the "brushes", - there they are, - staring the students in the face and making it obvious what I mean by "brushes". Nothing to do with sweeping the floor in this case.
    Rock on!
  7. I have experienced a wide range of apprentices in the teaching role I currently hold. Over the last 5 years I have had a wide range of learners with different skill sets. Some have been very academic and have found it hard to put theory into practical application. Some have been very practically minded and have struggled with the academic side of their course. I have been very lucky to have a number that have excelled in both areas. One common thread they all have is they love to see and touch the training aid you are referring to. I have noticed it does not matter what particular learning style the individual has. If they can physically touch the item it is like a bond is built between the object and the individual appears to remember the information they have been given. This may sound a bit new age talking about bonding with things. But it does appear to happen. These are my thoughts I dont know if anyone else on the forum has had this sort of experience. Good luck Graeme.

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