No, but you do need to help them learn.
A common complaint I hear from students is that their teacher doesn’t explain things well. It may be that the instructor actually explains things extremely well. However, students learn by more than hearing. They want to see how problems are solved, and they need practice solving problems themselves. These represent the three primary ways in which students (or anyone, you and me included) learn. Read on.
You may already know about the VAK system. VAK stands for visual, auditory and kinesthetic. If you are not appealing to all three of these learning styles, then you are leaving a gap. No, make that a precipice, into which some of your students will fall. This is especially true if you are teaching freshman level courses.
Okay, let me digress for a second. If you are not appealing to all three VAK learning modalities, maybe you are actually leaving a VAKuum? 🙂 (Hey, did I hear a groan? 🙁 )
You owe it to your students to deliver information (a.k.a. teach) to all three styles of learning. This is true in problem solving courses like chemistry and math. It is especially true in career and technical education (CTE) courses. Students study automotive technology and heating, ventilation and air condition because they are good with their hands. Once they do something, they have learned it. Based on my experience, a significant percentage of CTE students struggle to learn from the book and often don’t understand the details of what their instructor tells them.
An adjunct of mine, a wonderfully kindhearted CTE instructor, commented to me today that his students wanted to be spoon fed, and he wasn’t going to do that. I will be meeting him soon to discuss the complaints his students voiced to me. I was convinced that these respectful and articulate students were putting in the time and effort, but they need to see more examples. They like him as a person, but they don’t feel he is helping them learn. They need to watch him work problems and then work examples in class themselves. I will be explaining to my adjunct that accommodating these needs is not spoon feeding. He is an intelligent and caring person. He is capable of taking my advice to heart. However, if he doesn’t, I will not be able to hire him back, at least not to teach this particular course.
© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
Posted March 9, 2010