The natural love for learning has quickly begun to fade. Students have been struggling to form connections to the material learned in traditional classroom settings. The seven learning styles (visual, physical, aural, verbal, logical, social, solitary) are uniquely chosen by each individual, based on what best comes naturally. Commonly, combinations of the seven styles are formed in order to retain information more effectively. With the rise of test score concerns and requirements in the education system, many wonder how teachers and education facilitators can increasingly raise positive results. The goal can be easily when understanding the evolution of learning.

As a quick overview, we must answer the question, “what is traditional learning”? Simply put, traditional learning is considered being an oral recitation of information. Another form includes outlining of context from textbooks and having limited amounts of classroom discussions. Information is also considered to be taught to all students at the same time, in the same format. For years, this has been considered the basics and foundation for all learning. But a shift in teaching methods are quickly becoming more of a highlighted feature in education systems.

Problematic bias results from lecture and contextualized based teaching methods. When selecting material to cover, only a

percentage of all context can be covered in a scheduled class. Out of the amount of information, much of the provided framework is presented in a one-way perspective of the facilitator. Effective learning is limited due to the lack of multiple angled conveyed information. Critical thinking is not only a crucial factor lost with this teaching method, but a loss in open room discussions. This down fall branches out to the lack of communication within a class to discuss different interpretations and untimely limiting student feedback. Additionally, attention spans range from all ages, subjects, and circumstances. Twenty minutes is approximately the length of time for attention hold in lecture-based settings, not including the occasionally drifting mind. This is a clear indicator that a percentage of the information taught is not retained fully.

As we take a closer comparison between traditional learning and hands-on learning, it is needed to mention specifically to Aristotle’s great words- “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. The most popular and modern-day learning is by performing the activity itself. It’s beginning to be an evolving learning method, showing positive results in comprehension and increased test/exam scores. There is a lesson itself when performing an activity to teach oneself. A prime example would entail creating a community project or organizing an event. Though there is not step-to-step list specifically on how to successfully plan and implement a project, trial and error provides the best learning experience. Research is dependent all on the party who are able and willing to successfully “pull of” a task or assignment. As courses begin to rise in difficulty, students find themselves being assigned projects with multi-step requirements, to later create a personalized hands-on experience. Through experience, there have been many students who do not understand any aspect of the content but then perform extraordinarily well with presenting additionally information or providing evidence of understanding through personally creating final projects. Not only does this confirm understanding of content but ultimately builds character and self-motivation. If at higher levels of studies, students are encouraging hands-on learning, why is it not being included in day to day lessons in secondary education systems?

Research has been consistent in providing positive results regarding an alternative route to traditional learning. Also categorized as being theoretical and/or decontextualized learning, traditional learning has begun to see the end in advancing schooling systems. Instead, a new system of hands on learning is being incorporated with many of today’s classroom lessons. With recent results of lack of motivation, this change in teaching motivates students to WANT to attend class. A once dreaded classroom assignment is now being perceived as fun and more engaging.  Additionally, when education facilitators provide hands on lessons and activities, it provides the opportunity to teach problem solving in a variety of ways. Unlike cut and dry questions with printed out answer keys at hand, there are multiple ways to arrive at the correct answer through a progressive and productive learning system.

For better comparison, let us think specifically on why students apply for internships. Internships or shadowing opportunities, provide a student or recent graduate the chance to gain hands on experience through a list of given tasks. Students can start their first day understanding limited amounts of lecture material and leave knowing the ins and outs of every aspect of the company and the position shadowed or interned for. But how? Simply through hands on experience in the field. It is no coincidence advisers, college professors, and employers encourage students to gain any type experience in their field. It provides a true understanding and psychological connection to the material.

Though it may be more time commitment to teachers in setting up project-based lessons, these specific lessons back up many of the 21st century skills needed in the workforce. Easily remembered as the five C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, these listed are a recipe for a successful working generation. Fostering this innovative way of learning provides a new way of thinking for real-world situations. It promotes a different view of practical learning, something that becomes more as an impact when applying daily needed skills. Though memorization and note taking is an important skill to retrieve, employers desire those willing to think out of the box and take risks, which can only be supported by hands-on learning.

In sum, with the increasing amounts of resources available, hands-on learning has rapidly been on the rise. It has become more than just a new style of teaching, but an evolving method to promote self-motivation and interest in learning. It is all about creating an interest and having exposure to outside word encounters to find ways to properly deal with such incidences. By transitioning into a different set of learning styles, personal skills and characteristics will strengthen tremendously.

-Stephanie Rogner