The learning and teaching styles can be described as the behaviors that instructors and students exhibit when learning is taking place. When this is true in all other disciplines, psychology is no exception. Teaching actions in psychology portrays the values that instructors hold in regard to the student’s in the learning process. The behavior of the learner offers an insight into the methods students perceive and look at the environment where environment takes place. Over the years, debate has been ranging on whether the styles of teaching applied by the instructor should match with learning styles of a student. Professionals in the field of education have also questioned whether learning can be effective if the instructional method is different. The argument that will follow will be in the favor of the fact that teaching styles and learning styles should match. Although instructors in psychology may decide to use different instructional methods, they should be learner centered.
According to research, it has been revealed that most instructors in psychology usually give instructions going by what they have learnt. For the simple fact that many instructors excelled in academics because of a good environment of learning where the instructor centered everything on students, they also tend to use the same approach as was used on them. In most cases, these instructors are independent while on the field and they are much oriented with the content and they like it when they apply formal method of offering instructions (Ogden, 2003). The formal method of giving instructions favors a small number of students involved and the class activities are more structured. This style of teaching is the best for field-dependent learners who like being told what they are supposed to learn and provided with resources that can help them to attain skills or knowledge. This may be the reason why most teaching is offered in a classroom that is controlled by an instructor. The strategy that strives to match the styles of teaching with the learning styles of a learner can work well when workers are motivated to grasp a particular content that is applicable in their career. In the view of the above facts, teaching methods should match with the learning styles of a student.
In most cases, instructors are encouraged to instruct what they learnt because they are not familiar with the adult theory of learning. This is mostly the case with teachers who have limited education in regard to learning principles of psychology education. An instructor who has skills required in psychology education principles and has expertise on theories regarding learner-centered education stands a better position of adopting a learner-centered method (Stitt-Gohdes, 2003). These instructors’ posses’ views of how offering instructions can take place and strong beliefs in regard to engaging learners in the process of learning. They know how to change demographics in a class and how to influence technology on the learner’s methods of learning. They are in most cases likely to replace self-directed methods of learning and interactive environment of learning for lectures and utilize resources available to establish meaningful experiences of learning. For these reasons, teaching methods that match with learning styles of learners should be applied not only in psychology but also in all other subjects (Pithers et al., 2002).
If what research has revealed is anything to go by, teaching styles that match with the learning styles improves motivation and achievements by learners. Although these researches have mainly focused on high school students, the same is true for adult students. In the same vein, there are studies that reveal that matching teaching styles with learning styles for adult students might prove a difficult task due to the age of student. On the other hand, not all subjects can use the same method of instruction thus becoming difficult to match the two. In case of vocational learners, matching the teaching styles and learning styles is very beneficial to such students because their training is more independent on the field (Garton et al. 1999). Students on vocational education need a lot of guidance from their instructors, and mismatching the two will be a big problem to such learners. For the simple fact that most learners in vocational training have diverse preferences, instructors are forced to be flexible in order to integrate their methods of teaching. If matching the style of teaching and learning is applicable in vocational education, the same can be applied in psychology and in all other fields. This approach should be supported by all the stakeholders in the field of psychology.
Studies that have been done in most colleges in regard to teaching and learning of psychology support the idea of matching teaching styles and learning styles. Most researches that have been done in the field of learning and teaching psychology reveal that learners learn best when the method used to instruct them resembles their way of learning. If these researches are anything to consider, it is correct to say that methods of teaching psychology should strive to fit learner’s method of learning (Mahlios, 2001). Ways of learning is described by psychology professionals as defined style of learning that each person prefers to use while learning. The method of learning that a learner chooses is greatly determined by the external factors. Some of the identified external factors include teaching methods and the immediate learning environment. Researches that have been done in a good number of colleges reveal that those learners who match their learning and teaching style record good grades.
It is advisable for instructors to first familiarize themselves with the learning methods of the learner in order for them to know the methods to use while instructing. This can help them a lot in developing a wide range of teaching methods that will adopt all learners. When the teaching method is matched with the learning method, it promotes the retention of concepts learnt and the learner feels satisfied. For instance, the traditional method of lecturing is known for providing learners with opportunities of learning using their own strength while still developing strengths in other learning sectors (Van der Jagt et al., 2003). Learners should also be given an upper hand to decide on the best method to use in teaching them that will match with their techniques of learning. If when the teaching method used does not match the learning style and student end up performing poorly, then it should be clear that teachers and learners should think of a method to mach the two.
However, although many education professionals in the field of psychology deduce that matching the teaching styles and learning styles can help the learner to improve grade, critics of this approach have made a few negative observations. In a report published by Coffield in 2004, he revealed that, most of the learning styles that learners use are far from the teaching styles applied by most learners. It should be remembered that a lot of time is wasted when a teacher is trying to group students in a psychology class according to their learning methods in order to determine which method to use (Novak, 1998). Another point worth noting is that, whether different methods are used in offering instructions, learners will sit for the same exam. Using different methods of teaching challenge learners to strive to learn different methods of learning. On the other hand, instead of using one teaching style, a teacher learns a variety of teaching methods. For this reason, teaching methods should not be matched with learning methods.
Research has revealed uniqueness when the teaching styles are matched with learning styles and has also helped to identify the characteristics that are associated with every style. Although this approach comes with a number of benefits, it is not a guarantee that the achievements by learners are great. The level of education, motivation and age of the learner has much influence on learning style of every learner in the field of psychology. Instructors are advised to strive to examine their learner’s method of learning for them to learn how to help them. Every instructor has his or her own way of teaching provided it is learner centered (Stevenson & Dunn, 2001).
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