How do students learn best? A survey by Harris Interactive for Everest College revealed that 52% of participants said that “Active participation through hands-on training” was the learning method that worked best for them. The next highest ranked category was “Visual demonstrations shown by an instructor,” which 28% said they preferred.
After hands-on and visual instruction, participants listed textbook learning, the Internet, collaboration, and teaching others as the preferred methods. The bottom of the list was finished out with listening to lectures and watching videos.
According to Ed Week, “Men and younger people were likelier than women and older folks to say hands-on training works best for them,” with 28 percent of 45-54 year olds preferring textbook learning.
With that in mind, consider the most used teaching styles in elementary classrooms. According to Concordia University Online, elementary teachers primarily rely on (in this order) demonstration, hands-on, and traditional lecture to teach students new concepts.
Demonstration and hands-on have switched places on that list compared to what students say they prefer, which isn’t too bad. But having lecture be in the top three methods of teaching styles for elementary students doesn’t make much sense—considering it’s near the bottom of the list for the Everest survey.
Why teach students in a method that most say isn’t their best way of learning? Planning effective lessons requires that teachers take into account how their students learn best and then adjust their teaching styles to match. Lectures are easy to do, but perhaps not the most effective.