Exploring Types of Learning

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Types of Learning

Effective teachers want their students to learn actively. Each day, different levels and types of learning take place in classrooms across the world. For those who work in education, the lingo changes and can be confusing. However, we are going to explore some educational terms that define several types of learning.

Active Learning

Active learning is a student-centered approach. The responsibility for learning is on the students, often in collaboration with their classmates. During active learning, students engage and contribute their thoughts, ideas, and opinions through collaboration and discussion. The teacher guides the conversation or activity, but the students actively participate. One example of active learning in a classroom engaged and filled with discourse or divided into groups with students collaborating or problem-solving on a project. Here are a few examples of active learning activities.

  • Think Pair Share
  • Role Playing
  • Discussions/Student Discourse
  • Problem-Solving
  • Game-Based Learning
  • Group Projects
  • Debates

Hybrid Learning

If you have not heard of hybrid learning, another term is blended learning. It is a mixture of in-class active learning and out-of-class online learning through digital media. While in class, students participate in a productive learning activity. Then outside of the classroom, students may be directed to watch an online video, lecture, or complete an online activity through a school or educational website.

  • Station Rotation is used mostly in elementary schools. Students rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one station is an online learning station
  • Lab Rotation is when students rotate through stations on a fixed schedule in a dedicated computer lab.
  • Remoted Blended Learning is  when a student focuses on completing online coursework while only meeting with the teacher intermittently or as-needed.
  • Flipped Classroom Students are introduced to content at home, and practice working through it at school supported by a teacher.
Consider the types of learners when planning lessons. Photo by Wadi Lissa on Upsplash.com

Meta-Cognitive Awareness

Meta-cognition allows students to reflect on their thinking and knowledge. It is critical thinking and how one comes to know about a subject or specific skill. Meta-cognitive awareness goes well beyond the surface and introductory learning.

Students write self-reflections in a language arts or math journal about a skill or topic they learned. They can express the process of solving a problem or their thoughts about a science experiment. Students can create a mind map to show their learning process visually and how their thinking evolved.

It is essential to schedule a time for students to reflect on their learning process and see how their knowledge progressed. Provide students the opportunity to reflect on what was easy for them to learn versus what was difficult. Reflect why and which strategies worked or did not work and why.

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Community and Service Learning

Community and service-learning is a perfect opportunity for students to have a real-life learning experience. Students can volunteer to complete projects or support community organizations. They can organize activities such as food drives, community clean-ups, letter-writing campaigns, etc. These types of opportunities promote collaboration and the value of helping and supporting others. Here are a few examples of community and service learning projects.

  • Students plan and organize a coat drive for homeless citizens.
  • Collecting food for a local food bank
  • Recycling Program
  • Build and plant a community garden
  • Neighborhood Clean Up
  • Community Newsletter

E-Learning (Web-based learning or Online Learning)

E-Learning includes learning online through a course or courses that a school offers on the net. Emails, live lectures, and video conferencing are all possible with e-learning. It is convenient and flexible. It promotes active and independent learning. E-learning is a system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources. This type of educational experience usually is not seen at the elementary or middle school level. It is more popular at the college or university level.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a process by which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside of a traditional academic setting. It is also a method of education through firsthand experience. Students’ skills, knowledge, and experiences are acquired outside of a conventional classroom. The experiences can include internships, studies abroad, field trips, service-learning projects, etc. There are five steps to experiential learning.

  1. The Experience Itself 

The experience is the thing that happens. It can be scheduled activity, current event, or an unexpected discussion.

  1. Publishing 

 Students reflect on their journey through the experience. During the publishing phase, students only reflect on themselves.

  1. Processing 

 Students reflect on observations that other participants had who shared the experience.

  1. Generalizing 

 Students think about other times where they had similar feelings or views. During this phase, students stretch to think about their experiences.

  1. Applying 

Students think about things they learned from the experience. Students consider how they can apply what they learned during the experience.


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Project-Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. PBL requires students to critically think, problem-solve, collaborate, and communicate.

VARK Learning Styles

Listed above are types of learning that can happen in a classroom. Take into consideration the types of learning styles your students possess. According to VARK, there are several learning modalities. VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. Students may have one modality or a mixture (multimodality). Review vark-learn.com for more information and resources.

Visual Learners (V)

Visual (V) learners prefer maps, diagrams, charts, or other graphics. It does not include still pictures, photographs, videos, movies, or PowerPoint. It also includes designs, whitespace, patterns, and shapes to help convey information.

Aural/Auditory (A)

Students learn best from lectures, group discussions, radio, email, speaking, and talking things through. The aural preference includes talking out loud as well as talking to oneself. People sort out things by talking it out.

Read/Write (R)

Students prefer information to be displayed as words. The preference emphasizes text-based input and output, such as manuals, reports, and essays. People with the Read/Write modality like lists, the internet, dictionaries, journals/diaries, etc.

Kinesthetic (K)

Students who are kinesthetic learn through actual personal experiences, examples, practice, or simulation. They learn by doing, touching, tasting, holding, etc. Kinesthetic learners value their own experience of acquiring knowledge or skill.

Multimodality (MM)

Some people use more than one modality and can switch from mode to mode, depending on what is the project or assignment. It is not unusual to be this flexible. They choose the modality based on the occasion, situation, or context of the project or activity.

For more information about VARK learning styles, visit vark-learn.com.

It is crucial to consider the types of learning and learners when planning lessons. When taken into consideration, you are a more effective teacher, and students’ learning experiences are more memorable.


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