We all learn differently. Some students work best with diagrams. Others learn the most from audiobooks, and some feel most engaged while working with their hands.
Over the years, scientists have conducted research to understand how we learn differently and what distinguishes the main learning styles. One of the most well-known theories is the VARK model, which identifies four categories of learning:
- Reading and writing
Each of these learning styles is marked by key characteristics. As educators, it’s crucial to ensure classroom materials and courses meet the needs of every kind of learner. In fact, most students learn best from a combination of the four, making it even more important to target every category.
This is especially true in partially or fully remote classrooms. Most universities are transferring at least some of their curriculums online, but are they accounting for each learning style during these adaptations?
It’s entirely possible to target the four main types of learning styles with remote lab science courses. It just takes planning, understanding, and the correct materials.
That’s a big part of what we do at Science Interactive. Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at four ways of learning, then discuss tips for online teaching in science courses.
1) Kinesthetic Learning
Hands-on experience is key for students to succeed in lab science courses. That is why the kinesthetic learning style is first on our list. It’s often the most challenging learning style to target in remote teaching setups.
Kinesthetic (or tactile) learners are most engaged when working with physical objects and resources. Using pen and paper is helpful, but they also enjoy using their hands to map out their thoughts and problem solve.
At Science Interactive, our lab solutions include physical kits that allow all students to get a hands-on learning experience – even when they’re online.
Our lab kits are carefully designed to ensure kinesthetic and all other styles of learners never feel restricted during scientific learning. We strive to help them visualize complex concepts and processes while working with their hands and physical aids. These can include anything from state-of-the-art lab equipment to small-scale quantities of chemicals – whatever a lab course may require.
We also provide interactive lessons to accompany kinesthetic learning activities. For example, we offer a periodic chart that students can color code-based element groupings, as well as interactive illustrations and videos that demonstrate interactive portions of the course.
2) Visual Learning
Secondly, there is the visual learning style. Students who learn best visually require resources such as pictures, film clips, colors, images, and diagrams to fully grasp a concept. They do not benefit from overwhelming blocks of text or explanations that are difficult to visualize.
In lab science courses, targeting visual learners means using the proper aids. As courses adapt their classes for online presentation, they’ll need to include more than just standard blocks of text or auditory discussions – both of which visual learners can struggle with.
Considering that up to 97% of college students switched to at least some online instruction after COVID-19, and a large chunk of students are at least partially visual learners, visual resources are a crucial element of any successful remote course.
The Science Interactive team has specifically crafted visual learning strategies by creating the SI Cloud, a flexible, proprietary learning platform. It incorporates a wide range of visual resources, including the ability for instructors to customize their course by uploading videos, images, and more, making it even easier to meet the needs of visual learners.
3) Auditory Learning
If a student is a strong auditory learner, they may rely heavily upon mnemonic devices or audiobooks. Many also flourish in group discussions and partnerships where they can think and reason out loud.
In lab science courses, it’s essential that educators include solid auditory resources for their students. This includes lessons that students can listen to, but it should also expand to include opportunities for students to vocally problem-solve and discuss complex topics.
￼At Science Interactive, one way we target this learning style is by providing instructors with the flexibility to add their videos to each lesson, in addition, many of our lessons may include video with auditory elements to help engage students with their hands-on experiments.
Many other online lab course providers rely on course delivery using PDFs, PowerPoints, and other aids that don’t really work for auditory learners. That’s why we’ve worked to provide more opportunities for out-loud discussions and listening assignments.
4) Reading and Writing Learning
Last is reading and writing, which is arguably easiest to achieve remotely. These learners are most engaged when provided with resources they can read through, as well as assignments that encourage them to write their own thoughts.
However, don’t assume that a PDF-based lesson will suffice for these kinds of learners – especially in a complex lab science course.
Our customizable online curriculums support reading and writing through participation forums and readings from outside sources and perspectives. We also encourage students to work with acronyms, read from different points of view, and role-play in real or hypothetical lab settings.
A strong reading and writing learner often needs a combination of resources to effectively understand a concept. They want to discuss or witness a concept, then use written language to flush out the concept more thoroughly.
Science Interactive lab kits provide hands-on experiences, but they also ask students to conduct tasks such as reading data, entering analysis into tables, and writing up their findings.
Trends and tips for teaching online classes are evolving as the world moves to a more flexible, remote-based educational environment. Every educator and university will need to think about how they’re accounting for different learning techniques – especially in online courses.
That’s where Science Interactive helps universities.
We have spent the last three decades building strong science content and resources for remote learning – every style. Our hands-on lab kits, rigorous curriculums, and support for online teaching have all been created to provide a comprehensive approach to remote lab science courses.
The future of education is here, and Science Interactive is happy to be at the forefront of remote learning resources. If you want to learn more about how we could strengthen your remote lab science course’s engagement, request an instructor demo kit or contact us online.
Contact us for questions about our robust library of lessons in 10 science disciplines or if you are looking for additional resources, for example tips for teaching biology online or any other courses, our distance learning specialists are standing by to assist you.