We all know everyone’s brain works in different ways, and as individuals we each have different methods of getting things to stick. Let’s break down the ways that people remember and learn—and how I try to incorporate different ways of learning to best benefit everyone in my classroom.
If we look at research on learning, we find that most people only keep about 10 percent of what they read. So if I just give my students a reading assignment, the subject most likely will not stick with them. Research also shows that we only keep about 20 percent of what we hear, so again if I just lecture for two hours, that is going to get boring and lose student attention anyway. We keep about 30 percent of what we see, so with visual aids the brain will keep a little more information.
But if I can incorporate all three of these things—reading, listening, and seeing—I have a better chance of my students retaining the information. But if we go even further and add practical learning in the classroom, the chances of students retaining the information they learn in class jumps to way over 90 percent.
Since classes here are so fast paced, running in four-week courses, or modules, helping our students retain information is very important. Let’s face it: I can lecture about how to draw blood or do a urinalysis, tell them how to do a strep test, or just talk about vital signs, but if I do not show them and then let them demonstrate the skills to me, the information is not going to stay with them. I realize this might sound like a lot of work, but isn’t that what college is about?
So in my classroom, I try to make sure they get theory and practical time along with reading and homework. This way, by the end of the module they will have retained 90 percent of what I was trying to teach them, and I feel confident sending them out into the field knowing that they walked away with a knowledge base of the subject.
As an instructor, this is my goal: for my students to go out and make a career for themselves. I really do believe that by putting all these things in the classroom—addressing all the ways that people learn most effectively—our students are getting what we promised them when they signed up for school: tools to make a better life.