Educational psychology and the learning process

Proficiency in teaching is essential because the ability to impart knowledge to students is what makes an excellent instructor/educator stand out.

Dr Andrew E. Ivang from the Department of Clinical Biology – Huye campus, University of Rwanda, believes that educators should communicate in a way that is easy for learners to comprehend.

 

He highlights that aside from understanding the content, teachers should have a basic understanding of how learners acquire and absorb knowledge, and this is what educational psychology entails.

 

What to put into consideration

 

Dr Ivang notes that students learn differently, and for this reason, it is important for educators to understand the differences in their learning styles.

This, he says, can help them implement the best strategies in their daily activities.

“The benefits of knowing students create a psychologically safe environment for every learner,” he says. 

Additionally, it also helps determine each student’s readiness for learning, as well as identify multiple access points to the curriculum, which increases engagement and success.

Mark Ndagijimana, a deputy teacher at GS Ruhango Catholique School in Ruhango District, says in teaching, there is information that is important when getting to know your students.

This includes preferred learning styles, important relationships, interests, personalities, among others.

He explains that if a teacher understands that students learn differently, they will be better equipped to organise lessons in such a way that no student is left behind.

Use different learning styles

Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist and counsellor based in Rubavu District, says in learning, variance is important because most learners have a preferred way to learn.

He says, for instance, there are students who learn best by listening, some have to observe every step, while others have to do it to learn it.

“The fact is that learners need all three modalities to truly commit information to memory, and if educators put this into consideration, it will be easy to impact their students in different ways,” he says.

Therefore, Twizerimana says, depending on the level of the learner and how they get to understand information, educators should use different learning styles. 

The styles, he says, can include using songs or rhythm, verbal trainings, interpersonal methods which include learning in groups as well as intrapersonal, which is a method applied to students learning on their own.

Another important aspect, Twizerimana notes, is helping students use learning style ideas to their advantage. 

He says that as an instructor, it’s important to let your learners know or understand learning styles, and how they can help them understand their own learning process.

“Identify your students’ learning needs and develop new and more effective learning actions throughout your teaching sessions,” he says.

According to study.com, an online educational platform, one of the biggest reasons to use learning styles in the classroom is to encourage variety.

It states that if learners hear something, see something, do something, and feel something in the process of learning a single concept, no matter what their personal learning style may be, they will definitely learn that thing better.

In addition, the study points out, learning styles encourage engagement. 

Relevance

Ivang says that as a teacher, it’s important to pay attention to what is required in the labour market today.

For instance, “It is important to nurture 21st-century skills. Such skills provide a framework for successful learning in the classroom, and ensure students can thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops,” he says.

He goes on to highlight that information is only stored permanently when it relates to day-to-day living.

For example, he says, math concepts must be reinforced in real life examples or the student will have no reason to absorb the information beyond the exam.

Ivang adds that finding strategies rooted in educational psychology to bring certain educational content to life will help learners adjust to the outside school environment with ease. 

Create space

Twizerimana says creativity is the origin of true learning, where a student can initiate thoughts, ideas, problems, and make connections between concepts.

He says that creativity requires the activation of the right side of the brain and that space allows the opportunity for creativity to thrive.

The psychologist says giving students a place to stretch, move away from a desk, or any activity that will see them take a break from class work is essential.

He further advises that instructors, in the context of a lesson, should give students time for brainstorming sessions.

Time between lessons can help students create their own projects using the theories during the lesson.

“A teacher enables a student to learn when they become a ‘quiet’ mentor on the side-lines, rather than a dictator of every move or step,” he adds.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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