I don’t believe in learning styles. The idea of visual, audio, tactile and kinaesthetic learners has been popular in the last decade, but has done a great disservice to many learners labelled “kinaesthetic” and left to play with the blocks in the corner. So when a person tells me they are a visual learner, in the same defining tone they would use to state their height or eye color, I wince inside.
What I do believe is that effective learners use many different ways to learn, and for most of us a well-thought-out diagram will help in understanding and retaining new knowledge.
I love diagrams, but call me a visual learner and I will be tempted to slap you. I also like to have things explained out loud, and I like to try things for myself, and I really like to make and eat cookies. None of those things define me.
But I do love diagrams.
Diagrams should either be correct and understandable, or a useful metaphor. Do a Google search for a picture to represent a p-value and you will get a screen full of bell curves with little shady bits in one or both tails. For the 99% of the population learning about p-values, this is USELESS! They do not understand what the curve represents, let alone the shady bit in the corner or its relationship to the p-value. So give it up.
As part of the Quantitative Methods for Business course we teach percentages. These are surprisingly tricky. We include questions like “A lawyer’s bill came to $4167.60 including GST (Goods and Services Tax) of 15%. How much was the GST component?”
After several years of teaching and helping students, I decided we needed a diagram. After considerable thinking I produced this.
Most teachers of LP like to start with the two decision variables to teach Linear Programming. This way it can be drawn on a Cartesian plane. This is great for maths and engineering students who are at home on the Cartesian plane. It is really good for understanding shadow prices and binding and slack constraints. However for business students, we found this added an extra level of incomprehension.
Like most of the claims about learning styles, the ideas expressed in this post are not based on empirical research. However, they are the result of over twenty years of teaching and reflection, and this is a blog, not a peer-reviewed journal article. 😉