Join David Gassner for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring learning styles: Auditory, kinesthetic, and visual, part of Foundations of Programming: Programming for Kids.
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I'm going to get a little academic for the next couple of movies, but it's important to what I'll talk about for most of this course. Understanding learning styles in general, and about how kids learn in particular, can help guide parents and educators in choosing tools that are appropriate for their young programmers. People learn and process new information in their own individual ways. But we all have certain things in common. One of the most popular ways to describe learning styles is in three major categories, visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.
According to a study that originally described these in depth, over 70% of students show distinct differences in how quickly and easily they receive and process various kinds of stimuli. Some learn most quickly from things they see, some from what they touch, and others from what they hear. With visual learning, feedback is in the form of what you see. This can include pictures, drawings, shapes, sculpture, and paintings. You'll see a common pattern in many of the programming environments for young kids.
In iPad apps like Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch, and in computer based programs like Scratch, the programming task is to create animations of cartoon-like illustrations using a graphical programming language. Both the language being used and the thing being created are visual in nature. For kids who find that learning visually is effective these programming environments are perfect. Kinesthetic learning refers to learning by touch. This can include gestures, body movements and positioning, and most importantly object manipulation.
When toddlers play with shape sorting tools, matching pegs of particular shapes to matching holes, they typically start with learning by touch, using trial and error to see what fits, and then they transition to recognizing the physical object by sight. Some kids move to the visual approach quickly, while others are more touch oriented and stick with that longer. When you think about programming skills, the use of touch might not immediately come to mind. But with a popularization of tablets and other touch screen devices over the last few years touch has become more prevalent with iPad apps like the ones I describe in the next chapter, you actually program with touch, dragging and dropping programming blocks into place.
And with the more advanced tools, you can program an object to respond to physical stimuli, like tapping the screen or shaking a tablet. And as soon as you start programming real objects, such as robots, the touch oriented approach to learning feedback makes complete sense. One of the reasons the first robotics competition is so popular is because kids can see the results of their programming work in three dimensions, with real robots throwing, catching, climbing over obstacles, and bumping against each other.
And finally auditory learning includes all sorts of sounds, patterns, rhythms, tones and music. Even with early age programming tools like Scratch, it's possible to create things that are very noisy. For kids who respond best to auditory feedback, steering them towards those tools early on can make all kinds of sense. This approach to learning styles categorization is just one of the available ways of thinking about the subject. But whatever categorization you look at, the goal of this course is to help you figure out what it means for how each kid learns best.
When figuring out which programming tool appeals best to a young programmer, there's nothing like putting the tool in front of them and seeing what happens, but don't just drop the computer or tablet in front of the kid and walk away. Spend some time with them, help them understand the challenge they're being asked to conquer, and help them solve a few samples. You'll discover quickly, which kids take to the tool, and which are bored or frustrated and want to go on to other things.
- Understanding your child's learning style
- Graphical programming on iPads and computers
- Making things move
- Learning about algorithms
- Programming animations, apps, and games
- Programming virtual and real robots
- Programming hardware: Arduino and Raspberry Pi