IIn our continuing look at what works and doesn’t work for students, based on our 7300+ student survey reponses, we consider their answer to the prompt: I learn best in class when…

There are few real surprises in the findings: they learn best when there is hands-on experience, lots of examples, discussion, order, visual aids. But have a look at the patterns. More specifically, as you read these, ask yourself:  Which of these form a consistent pattern of common-sense best practice? However: Which of these answers in general conflict with one another? In other words, we have below some important evidence of an easily-overlooked fact: what works for some people does not work for others. So, as professionals we have an obligation to factor that need for varied and differentiated learning into our plans.

    • i learn best when im doing something i like.
    • the teacher has figured out, through experience, how to teach a class of students about the subject at hand.  Two other things that contributes to my learning is when the teacher and the lessons are in good balance and the students in the class aren’t always talking but also aren’t dead and silent.
    • Im a visual learner i learn best from seeing pictures and presentations.
    • the work is interactive and broken down
    • The teacher is interesting and actually knows a lot more about the topic or subject and can connect it to the real world.
    • When i am active and we are doing something fun that keeps me interested.
    • I am interested and the teacher makes  the class more lively.
    • I can see it,  then practice it myself.
    • We have a hands on experience, real life examples that I can relate to, or having an interesting and fun way to be taught information
    • We do hands on activities instead of taking notes for thirty minutes at a time.
    • I learn better by games and any fun activity that deals with that day’s lesson; this is the reason I do so well in my history class.
    • I can relate to the issues at hand or when I am learning about something that is interesting or it is portrayed to me in an abstract way.
    • We do a lot of examples together and all the content of the lesson is very organized.
    • my teacher explains things one on one
    • hands on and seeing
    • im workin with groups and as a class
    • when i really learn by myself.
    • the teacher lets us pair up in groups of two or more.
    • i work best in class when we are in groups
    • The teacher uses hands-on activites and when we do group work.
    • when we take good notes and hands on things.
    • We play REVIEW GAMES.
    • There are hands on activities.
    • I see demonstrations
    • When we take notes, do a worksheet, then have homework afterword.
    • when the teachers actually listen to me
    • there’s a variety of learning styles.  Preferably, I would like some hand-on experiences and then either a lecture or sheet with the information; I also like to ask questions, but won’t if I feel like the teacher doesn’t like answering inquiries.
    • I’m a hands on type of person and Visual depending on the subject.
    • when we do hands on stuff
    • the teacher takes the time to explain things to the students in a thorough yet engaging way. Taking notes can get a lot of information to us, but whether we absorb any of it is an entirely different manner.
    • I am able to participate in hands on activities and the teacher is interesting.
    • we do hands on stuff and the teacher really exlains what we have to do
    • I have visual representations and examples
    • understand such as a powerpoint or example problems.  As long as the teacher does this and continues to interest the class without boring them by encouraging involvment I will pay attention and learn the subject well.
    • teachers involve students
    • it is hands on, there is lots of involvement like moving or interaction.
    • The teacher is there to help you with what you don’t understand.
    • my teacher take their time to really teach the lesson good and not just fly through it where no one is going to understand what is going on. i am as well a visual learner and i like when the teacher shows they care by showing they will help one on one. basically there for when you need them the most.
    • I can do try things for myself, or hands on experiments
    • we do hands on experiences and I can see the thing we are learning visually.
    • the teacher explains the idea well
    • I learn the best with visualize object and texture objects.  I like to see the object the day before we talk about that unit the next day. I also learn things by step and step.
    • the lesson plans include a time for teaching and then a time for application. Such as teaching a lesson in math and then applying the new lesson to examples. Or in history, the day’ss history lesson, and then outside sources to look at pertaining the same subject for another point of view.
    • It’s more of a hands on class. I like being involved with the material we’re being teached not just sitting in class and listening to what the teacher has to say.
    • the teacher gives examples and offers a lot of help
    • when I have hands on work
    • the teachers give specific examples to the problems and then give us the opportunity to figure out some of the examples ourselves.
    • I am an active particpant in my learning and the class is very structured.
    • I can talk to other people about the topics, and when I can have aa few breaks in the time, rather than doing the same thing for a whole 45 minutes.
    • teachers provide hands on learning opportunities.
    • when there are visual aids.
    • The teacher coordinates discussions.
    • I actually have to use the information and apply it to my own life.
    • its a group interaction kind of thing.
    • they show how to do a problem or use a equation like in math or science. also they demonstrate how to do it and also i like to do it myself a few times.
    • This may be surprising but when the teacher isn’t as strict as to when talking amongst students happens I learn better. This is probably because then I’m not constantly thinking about what I wanted to tell them so I don’t forget it. If I’m constantly thinking about whatever I wanted to tell them, I can’t properly learn the information the teacher is trying to convey to me. Granted, classtime should NOT be a free-for-all social hour, but I also think that more talking should be allowed.
    • when its hands on, and when i get to put my own ideas ot there.
    • When I get extra help and get it explained to me personaly with full detail.
    • I learn the best in class when the teacher makes an effort to actually explain the concept at hand to the student, not simply reciting words out of a book.
    • The teacher actually discusses the subject with us, and makes it sound interesting – not reading from a book or a packet and making us answer questions that don’t help us understand the content.
    • When first, the subject is interesting and applicable to ‘the real world.’ Second, the teacher actually understands and answers the question. I need teachers to actually understand the topics, having a teacher just come up blank on certain things is no good. Lastly I am a very hands on learner, I can’t really learn just through lectures, they are fine for notes, but then I need to actually do some of the problems, or apply them, to really learn and understand them.
    • the teacher does powerpoints or has the students do hands on projects. I learn more visually. Also, I have to watch hands on demonstrations because it helps me learn the topic better.
    • teachers don’t treat me like I’m seven years old.
    • there is some noise but not too much
    • I learn best in class when we do class discussions.
    • I am doing hands on things and when the teacher isn’t just explaining. The teacher is always interacting with us and asking questions with us for us to think and answer.
    • Teachers give examples and fully explain them like in math class. When it comes to history and other classes, I learn best when teachers put big events into littler words that would help me understand significance better.
    • I learn best in class when I can ask questions.
    • when you give me an outline
    • i can read and do a study guide
    • We have discussions. Discussions help me better understand what we’re learning.
    • i work alone
    • The teacher asks me a lot of questions.
    • I do outlines and take ridiculously orginized notes
    • I learn best in class when there is a relaxed atmosphere that focuses on discussion and verbal and visual learning rather then note-taking. I find interactive learning much more effective than learning through note-taking or busy work.
    • I am doing, not watching.
    • i have diagrams and specific examples
    • talking things through and having a big class debate on the subject.
    • i learn best when someone is teaching me very slowly, step by step. to put it frankly, like teaching a baby how to walk. after that first long lesson, i will never forget it and its a piece of cake.
    • I learn best when teachers don’t mind explaining the exercise more than one time and with different approaches.
    • I learn best when the teachers give examples of problems we are solving.
    • I learn best when I can see the theory or concept drawn out or written out for me. I am  very visual and doing a good number of example questions always benefits me.
    • I can go at my own pace, and things are explained clearly and concisely.
    • My teachers try not to forcibly teach me. When They ask the questions and allow me to find my own answers. When I am truly interested in a topic.
    • I learn best in a hands on environment and being able to apply the things that I’m learning to real life scenarios.
    • I learn best when the teacher is reasonable with his/her expectations of the amount of work. In my four years here, I have never been able to balance athletics and academics. It is not because of poor work ethic, but as a result of how the academic schedule and athletic schedule failing to every co-operate.
    • We have interactive conversations regarding the topic.  When the teacher gives straightforward and concise responses
    • I have many other resources and practice sheets to study for.
    • There is a lot of intelligent conversation where all views are discussed without condemnation and when everybody including the teacher plays an active roll in the conversation.
    • The lessons are interactive in some way, e.g- practical science lessons. When a variety of teaching styles and learning methods are employed, when I can verbally discuss my ideas/ understanding, when I teach have to teach somebody else…
    • I learn best when teachers have a balance between lecturing and applying directly in class.
    • Teacher is not concentrating on one particular thing and one particular exercise. I believe that if one same thing is been talked about for a long time, students starting to lose their attention and don’t think about the subject anymore. I learned best when we have different types of exercise, different discussions, different subjects for discussions in one class.
    • I learn best when I can try out something for myself and see it happening. Especially in my science courses I can remember labs that I’ve done more than simply reading a chapter in my book.
    • my teacher assigns homework on what we learned to make sure i understand it completely.
    • I’m a visual learner and once I start to understand a concept, I do practice problems or exercises until I feel comfortable with it
    • I learn best when a teacher is helping me outside of class and I also have alone time to work through problems on my own before presenting them to the class.
    • I can see and hear what the teacher is talking about.. NOT reading 34 pages of boring crap and answering stupid questions about it.
    • I learn best when the teacher has a way of making sure everyone is attentive without being like “wake up!”. A class where everyone wants to learns and the teacher ensures that happens. I like it when the teacher listens to what the students have to say and accept when they make a mistake.
    • I have a fast paced energetic teacher
    • I learn best when I can tell that my teacher cares about me and my understanding of the material. I learn best when teachers use visual aids and are flexible to how they present the lesson. I learn best when I am praised for what I do correctly, and receive help when I don’t understand something.
    • I can physically touch the thing we are learning. That is why science is my favorite subject
    • the environment is quiet. I don’t like noise or music when I am studying.
    • I learn best when the teacher can and will answer my questions. Also, when I see the point of what I’m doing.
    • I learn best when I am able to have a complete understanding of the material. This usually occurs when I discuss the topic. The more I become involved in a discussion, the more likely it will be for me to fully understand and remember it.
    • I learn best when I can connect what I’m learning to something I have already learned–studying a period in History our last English novel was set in, learning about culture in a language class that I’ve already studied in history, etc.  When I can see how things are interconnected, the flow of things, I learn them better.
    • I learn best when I can get into the learning process and see it work. With English and History, having discussions about the topic makes me remember it more and relate it to things I already know. In sciences and math, I work best when I can see it work in real life. I need to be able to physically see and actually understand why it works, so in sciences, experiments help me learn best. And I learn best in math when the teacher is extremely interactive.
    • I am asked questions or when I ask them myself. Being shown examples helps me a lot as well.
    • I am 1 on 1
    • I can concentrate and it is not too loud.
    • I pay attention in class and do all the work outside of class
    • the teacher keeps the class engaged and doesn’t just assume we know certain things.  Especially in math, I learn better when the teacher explains what he is doing and doesn’t just write it on the board and expect me to know what he did.
    • I learn best when teachers don’t mind explaining the exercise more than one time and with different approaches
    • I learn best when I teach myself
    • I learn best when there is an activity that is related to the thing that we are learning. It comes into me faster and deeper when all the classmates are participating cheerfully than just listening to the lecture.
    • I learn best when the teacher explains it in class and then gives us homework, which covers the subject.
    • I learn best when I can get creative and do things my own way, not in a rigid format.
    • I learn best when the teacher writes notes on the board that I can copy down, along with visual representations of the material.
    • I learn by myself and be efficient.
    • I learn best when i write things out several times, it sinks into my head better than verbally.
    • I can write on the board and look at what I’m doing

In a separate question we asked students to respond to some prompts about possible best practices of the kind that many of you are engaging in, to get a student’s perspective on them. Here are some of those findings:

Though we should not be surprised by the top choices, it was interesting to note that “getting feedback from my peers” was the least-appreciated practice in the list. This underscores other comments in the survey that many students find their peers’ comments are often not helpful even though they also report liking small-group discussions with them. Here’s the take-away, I think: we like sharing ideas and getting some help from one another; we don’t get particularly insightful feedback from one another. That feedback needs to come more from the teacher. OR: we need to do a better job of training kids to give better feedback so it is not just “pooled ignorance.”

As usual, if you want to use the survey, let me know.

Go here to see the Student Voice, Part 5.

Go here to see student responses to the most interesting assignments from the past year.

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