Is use of Learning Styles helping you teach and learn?

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by razie, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. razie

    razie Sir Shiftsalot Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Posts:
    514
    Location:
    Ontario
    I know that national org's manuals are very slow to adapt to reality and it's important to realize that learning styles do not actually work.

    There's a lot of research on the subject, with the general conclusion that

    "The evidence is a great big zero" for learning styles, Pashler says. Given that, "it's kind of astonishing that people would pursue this notion."

    Here's a nice introduction to the problem - and you'll find more if you browse around from there:



    The only real take away from the "learning styles" is that a good coach will use multiple methods to get information across - but not many will take their boots off at the side of the slope to show inversion for instance, so the visual part is usually just "do like this" and "follow me" which automatically limit understanding to the level of skill of that particular instructor. The auditory part is also limiting it to the level of understanding of the instructor...

    If one really wants to improve the coaching, it is very helpful to work to increase one's knowledge, increase one's skill and then focus instead on creating multiple mental models (I created an entire website for that purpose), create the right mental models, at the right level of detail - that approach is based in modern psychology research.

    If you're looking at coaching strategies, well beyond the learning styles, you could look at decision training - all the tools there are important for effective coaching, especially modelling, feedback and questioning - The higher up the performance stack you aim, the more complex it gets, but those are the basics.

    cheers
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  2. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    595
    Location:
    Louisville CO/Aspen Snowmass
    @razie, interesting. I’d like to see a separate thread that discusses this stuff. PSIA buys into a lot of stuff that, based on my limited research, seems to have dubious foundations in the academic literature, such as “multiple intellegences” and learning styles. I asked a demo team member for PSIA (they are thefolk tasked with writing our manuals) what they did to link to the academic literature on the subjects and was blown off by the assertion that they had folk on the team with degrees in the subject.

    That being said, the VAK model may still be useful for providing feedback. Clients should get a visual model of what you’d like them to do versus what they are currently doing (demonstrations and video), an auditory explanation of what they are doing and the more ideal (and why), and a description of the physical cues that might allow them to know whether they are accomplishing the task.

    Mike
     
    karlo likes this.
  3. razie

    razie Sir Shiftsalot Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Posts:
    514
    Location:
    Ontario
    :thumb: for sure - describing concepts or giving feedback should involve all means, visual, auditory etc

    Good idea - should we ask the mods if we should move my post into a new thread and continue there? I'm past the editing deadline...
     
  4. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    595
    Location:
    Louisville CO/Aspen Snowmass
    Absolutely!
     
  5. karlo

    karlo Getting off the lift Skier

    Joined:
    May 11, 2017
    Posts:
    888
    Location:
    NJ
    I'm not sure I'd go that far.

    Yes! I see it as learning on a 4-lane highway, rather than a country road.

    Interestingly, at my Skiing Exam, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to one of the instructors that was instrumental in bringing learning styles to PSIA. Her view is that, to learn skiing effectively, one must be a Feeler above all else. That is her personal experience both as student and instructor. As for the former, she had to learn to be a Feeler, and her coach insisted on it.

    From my limited experience as an instructor, I certainly agree that I have an easier and better time working with a Feeler than say a 10-year old Thinker that asks endless number of questions. What a pleasure to ask a kid to seek a feeling, and explore how movement ranges affect that feeling. That said, anyone can feel, or they wouldn't even be walking. Anyway, it seems to me that a student who has an ongoing relationship with an instructor or coach would benefit from help in developing all pathways to learning.
     


  6. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    595
    Location:
    Louisville CO/Aspen Snowmass
    @karlo, did you go to @razie's page and read the academic survey article that he cites there?

    I think there's a disconnect between PSIA and the academic literature on learning. They reference multiple intelligences, but the academic literature has basically rejected such distinctions. The study that Razie cited appears to me to be pretty compelling on the rejection of most of the learning styles literature.

    That being said, I do think that students need to hear, see, and feel the changes that we are asking them to make. That doesn't mean that we should identify a learning style, but rather that our job, as instructors, is to use all three in our lessons with students.

    I'd still like to see this deviation off-thread moved into a separate discussion where it might get more action and insight.

    Mike
     
  7. karlo

    karlo Getting off the lift Skier

    Joined:
    May 11, 2017
    Posts:
    888
    Location:
    NJ


    Do you mean
    http://nwresearch.wikispaces.com/fi...es.pdf/246502619/Coffield learning styles.pdf

    If so, I've only gotten to page 36. No, seriously, I am tickled by the categorization, on pp 127-129, of those that accept and those that reject Learning Styles, and by the plug for the UK. And, I am surprised by the data in Table 43 on page 134. But, then, it is pretty clear that there will always be remarkable exceptions that will thrill instructors and students. I guess it really comes down to the skill of the instructor to connect with the student and the student's ability and motivation to learn, which is why many prefer that school systems not be production lines, applying uniform processes.

    And, no, I didn't come close to reading the whole thing. :)

    Oh, BTW, I haven't gotten the sense that PSIA mandates a certain way of using VAK. It came across as informational, knowledge that would help an instructor consider a wider range of ways to connect with a student.
     
  8. PTskier

    PTskier Been goin' downhill for years.... Skier

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Posts:
    581
    Location:
    Washington, the state
    Is this the original link? Learning Styles Debunked
    https://www.psychologicalscience.or...ry-and-visual-learning-psychologists-say.html

    There is no doubt that individuals have their preferred ways of receiving information. The good teacher can express the same concept in several ways. This does not mean that there are certain learning styles that are always valid, nor that the teacher needs to know and use these defined styles.

    Instead, try this:
    --Tell the student what they need to do.
    --Tell the student why this is important for them.
    --Tell and show the student how to accomplish the task.
    --Correct the student as needed, always emphasizing how to do it correctly.
     
  9. razie

    razie Sir Shiftsalot Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Posts:
    514
    Location:
    Ontario
    I think @karlo - you're missing the point: the idea is that "learning styles" says that some people learn always better one way... (they learn in X style) while it logically follows, even without much research, that it depends more on what you're teaching than the person you're teaching it to.

    Teaching music will always go over easier with sound. :eek: And geography will always go easier with maps.

    And like you noted earlier, skiers must actually "do", otherwise whatever learning there is, is not useful (although there's plenty of armchair critics out there).

    Forgetting the marginal exceptions, of people who are impaired in some way (deaf?), to put it simpler, instead of "learning styles" it should be called "communication styles" or something that's closer to what it actually is.

    The reality is, as far as *any* skier and ski teacher is concerned, is simple:
    - the skier must actually *do* whatever it is we're trying to teach
    - we have to *show* them whatever we want them to do (preferably in person, (modelling with video works too, but it's less efficient)
    - but we have to *communicate* what exactly they should look at, do and focus on
    - and... we tend to *talk* to communicate information, we're not handing out written pamphlets while doing a mime impression in the middle of a lesson

    And there is a built-in escalation path, if you adopt decision training. For instance, you show X three times and if he/she doesn't get, it, you escalate to talking more etc.

    Some people get it much better if reading it thrice before or after the lesson. Great, that's why we have books and websites!

    Some people simply can't feel the ski that well - their body awareness is off. That's more of an impairment than normal and you have to use less "feel and react" cues and more "do this" cues. They can still ski very well, as I found out teaching both, but not quite the same. They both still have to actually "do it" *a lot* in the end.!

    Anyways, the mental models you create by whatever means are more important than the communication style itself and the theory around mental models is not new - it's becoming more mainstream now, but all you have to do is to read guys like Charlie Munger talk about it maybe 20 years ago, to understand that this is important. Read his almanack or google it - he gave a great speech on that (and many other things) a long time ago - that is an aside to mainstream mental model theory, but an important one.

    cheers
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    socalgal likes this.
  10. Steve

    Steve SkiMangoJazz Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    90
    There is knowledge acquisition and "learning." I believe that the so-called learning styles are actually knowledge acquisition styles. Some acquire knowledge visually, some need things explained to get the idea, etc.

    When it comes to skiing, none of this teaches someone to ski. I understand quite a bit more than I can do and have for years, slowly being able to do things that I've fully understood for a long time. Like absorbing moguls for example!

    To actually learn something like skiing you need to do it, to feel it. I believe that we are all kinesthetic learners. It's how we gain the understanding to try things, to make our body do things thus creating the feelings - that differ.
     
    karlo likes this.
  11. razie

    razie Sir Shiftsalot Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Posts:
    514
    Location:
    Ontario
    Here's an interesting contrast involving the use of questioning, from JB. While I do not use questioning quite that way, this is still interesting:



    The better way to use questioning is to create understanding and in that video, that part is not apparent - she does not seem to conceptualize the changes or the movements or how she's changing it. So that's not really knowledge, can't use that at a performance level, you'll need to focus on specifics at that level, to enable self-coaching.
     
  12. James

    James Making fresh tracks Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Posts:
    4,073
    Yeah I never bought it. Even worse, that people know what learning style they are. Sure, some people need to talk endlessly and dissect things or want technical explanations. That may actually be a barrier to learning. But often it's used to either dismiss or accept the information coming from the person delivering. So, if you don't engage that line and answer appropriately, they're gone.

    Fitting things in somehow to past experiences is good. The challenge becomes very unrelated activities.
    I'm frequently amazed what clicks for some people. I'll say something almost as an aside, and lightbulbs go on. It's often like really? That's what made the difference?
     
    razie and epic like this.
  13. tch

    tch What do I know; I'm just some guy on the internet. Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    317
    Location:
    New England
    As someone who taught difficult students for 37 years, I'll say I'm a believer in many of the Learning Styles conceptualizations. That said, I will agree with Steve that many of them might be better understood as "knowledge acquisition preferences". And, I will also agree that there is not enough evidence to support "teach everything in the students' preferred learning style" practices. But with those two concessions, I'll also say that I've seen hundreds of students "get" something from very different kinds of clues/inputs/teaching materials. As Steve says, I was frequently amazed what clicked for some people -- a verbal aside, a quick illustration, a demonstration, an assignment that forces someone to actually DO something. This means I learned to offer material in lots of different ways, with lots of different cues. I tried to offer material in as many different ways as I could so that it would be available to as many people as possible.

    The first key to creating crappy teachers, I think, is to allow them to believe that THEIR way of learning something is the is best, clearest, only(?) way to, in turn, teach it. Another, second, way is to simply keep doing something (or institutionalize it) that has been proven to reach only 40-50% of your audience -- like the university lecture model. Say what you will about students' lack of motivation, unpreparedness, economic issues, etc., the national dropout rate of 60% at community colleges (where I worked) is a damning indictment of common academic teaching practices.

    Encouraging teachers to consider different kinds of learning acquisition preferences is a proven way to expand the teacher's tool chest. Whether one follows a specific conceptual model is, to me, far less important than opening a teacher's eyes to the range of ways his/her students learn. So...do I care if academics "debunk" teaching to students' learning styles? No. The self-awareness and creativity that comes out of thinking about the concept is far more important.
     
    François Pugh, Steve, James and 2 others like this.
  14. James

    James Making fresh tracks Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Posts:
    4,073
    I suspect what's going on here is body awareness as opposed to "learning styles". Some people are very aware of what their body is doing, many not. There's probably inate skill involved, and personal limits, but I think most of it is learned through experience in movement activities. Dancers are very connected to what their body is doing.

    Now everyone not disabled walks so you'd think some of that would translate to knowing where your foot is in space and it's orientation. I suppose people are so thrown by the odd feeling of ski boots, plus their foot moving around in there, that they lose whatever kinesthetic perception they have. I'm constantly amazed by adults who have difficulty with extremely basic movements with skis off.

    Good point. Mogul absorption is a huge block for many advancing skiers. What do you think made a difference for you in starting to do it?
     
    Tim Hodgson likes this.
  15. karlo

    karlo Getting off the lift Skier

    Joined:
    May 11, 2017
    Posts:
    888
    Location:
    NJ
    No, I get the point.

    Tch says what I was trying to say best. It's not that an instructor should assess a student as a feeler or kinesthetic learner, then just teach to that.

    I'm not sure what that is. I'm kinda guessing it's someone's mental framework for all things skiing; where and how pieces fit. If so, then I think we're still back to an instructor knowing and connecting with a student to best help build that model.

    Yeah, for decades, I thought of turning on a mogul, or banging a mogul, or whatever that was mogul-centric. But, now I think of how I leave a mogul, how I'm going to engage the edge on the backside, how I'm going to extend (more fully, less so, or reach for the sky). What happens at the next mogul, the absorption, is just natural, like what one's legs do when jumping onto the floor. I mean, that's a (mental model?) change that worked for me. There's no new information here, no knowledge building. Just looking at the same thing another way. But, that's still learning, right?
     
    James likes this.
  16. razie

    razie Sir Shiftsalot Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Posts:
    514
    Location:
    Ontario
    :thumb:
     
  17. CalG

    CalG Getting off the lift Skier

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Posts:
    656
    Location:
    Vt
    Skiing is not conceptual. It is not regurgitation of facts, it is not "creative or persuasive writing. In other words, skiing is NOT words.

    Words are used as suggestion and encouragement to inspire someone to experience the sensations frequently associated with enjoyable skiing experience.

    Really, Try to "teach" someone to enjoy skiing in the rain using words. Regardless of learning style, you will fail. But that is an experience, a sensation, a feeling, that can return significant enjoyment.

    Put in the miles, and you will "get better". And the better you get, the better IT gets!.

    Athleticism is to be considered as well. Call it a personality type. ;-)
     
  18. Steve

    Steve SkiMangoJazz Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    90
    The "most important movement in skiing" video that I linked to and discussed in epic's Intermediate Zone was a huge breakthrough for me. In it he had a TBL series of rollers to absorb. I got lucky and found a series of big rollers and lapped them about 15 times one morning. Changed everything.

    However it was basic skill development that really helped the most.

    1) Finally being able to be in the center of my feet when I needed to, through efficient articulation of all my joints.

    2) Being able to turn my legs in my hip sockets, changing my understanding of counter and rotation completely. I think most of my rotary for years was from my feet and upper body, and once I developed good leg steering, things started really coming together. How does that effect absorption? By allowing me to feel, and stay in the center of my feet (see #1) while turning my skis. Being centered freed up the ability to flex and extend.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    James likes this.
  19. BGreen

    BGreen Getting off the lift Skier

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2016
    Posts:
    406
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'll be honest, the concept of learning styles as put forth by PSIA has never once crossed my mind, but I know what works for each of my athletes and tailor what I'm doing, how I'm presenting it, and what I say to each of them. If they can't figure out what I'm asking them to do in half a run, it's time to try something different. I suppose it is because I have an end goal in mind, and I know the will each get there differently.
     
  20. Dave Marshak

    Dave Marshak All Time World Champion Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2015
    Posts:
    354
    "Learning styles" don't really exist except some part of a model of the process of learning. The PSIA learning styles were taken from David Kolb's learning model (which is itself controversial), but they are so simplified that they have lost their original meaning.

    In the Kolb model, learning requires experience (feeling), observation, thinking and experimentation (doing), in that order. That's completely different from the PSIA idea that people learn only in one preferred style. That's an unnecessarily limiting concept that only gets in the way of learning, and it's not surprising that actual teachers don't find them useful.

    @karlo commented that he had better success with "feelers" than with "thinkers." As @James said, that's more about body awareness than learning styles. People with good body awareness learn physical skills easily. Trying to teach skiing to someone without body awareness by asking them to think about more is a recipe for failure. No matter how much of a "thinker" you are, you need to learn some amount of awareness of the physical world in order to learn to ski.

    dm
     
    tch likes this.

Share This Page


We respect your privacy. your information is safe and will never be shared