February 22, 2021
Are Learning Styles a Myth?
The vast majority of educators have heard of learning styles, or how people are visual learners, auditory learners, reading/writing learners, or kinesthetic learners. When we teach to an individual's learning style, we enhance their ability to learn.

However, this theory may not be correct. Or, to view it differently, it may not have the value that we often give it. Much has been written in recent years suggesting that learning styles are a "myth." A recent article in the British Psychological Society's Research Digest, The "Learning Styles" Myth is Still Prevalent Among Educators -- And It Shows No Sign of Going Away, shares the details of a recent research study that found that, "Overall, 89.1% of participants believed that people learn better when instruction is matched to their learning styles." So the belief is very common, but is it true? Does tailoring our instruction to our individual students' learning styles help them be more successful?

A 2018 article in The Atlantic argues no. It cites a research study of hundreds of students who took a learning styles questionnaire and then received study tips based on the results. The researchers "found that not only did students not study in ways that seemed to reflect their learning style, but those who did tailor their studying to suit their style didn't do any better on their tests." Another study found that those students who self-identified as visual learners learned no better with images than other methods, and likewise for other learning styles.

Learning styles seem to be more an indication of how students prefer to learn, but not necessarily how they learn best.

So what is the value of the learning style theory? Some would have us discard it altogether. But perhaps you find value in getting your students to think about their study habits. Certainly presenting a topic through a visual lesson or kinesthetic lesson has value not dependent on the learner's preference but on the topic itself. Or you can branch out with new learning styles when one does not seem to be working with your class. You can use the different presentation styles as an effort in remediation. Push hard on auditory-based lessons if you think your students need to improve their listening skills. Choose visual-based lessons if you sense that is a weakness.

Want to read even more? A 2015 Edutopia article gathered varying opinions on learning styles from nine learning experts.
Teaching Tips and Resources
Ten Teacher Picks for Best Tech Tools
This Edutopia article curates educational technology tools and ideas from a survey of 1,461 educators and presents a top ten list along with suggestions of how you can use them. If you continue to instruct students remotely this year, these resources could help you communicate with, connect with, and instruct your students in new and better ways.
Check for Understanding with Formative Assessments
When you are teaching, you want to know if your class and individual students are understanding the lesson. Checking for understanding will improve and enhance students' learning. A recent Edutopia article describes eight effective techniques of formative assessments that will work for in-person or remote lessons.
Using Pictures in Math Lessons
Whether or not a student considers himself or herself to be a "visual learner," everyone can benefit from using visual pictures in math lessons. Much of math lends itself to being visual. How to Spark Engagement in Math With Pictures takes a look at this topic and shares the reasons to present pictures to math students, how and where to find topic- and age-appropriate images, as well as specific topics such as decimals, ratios, and geometry.
Professional Development Opportunities
Career Exploration Resources and Webinar
There are many great resources for both student support coordinators and teachers to use with adult learners to explore careers, investigate salaries, research education and training opportunities, and explore labor market information. One of the top resources related to career exploration that is used by both Title II providers and their partners is the CareerOneStop website. A new resource can help case managers navigate the CareerOneStop site and use the resources on the website more effectively with adults and out-of-school youth. On February 26th, the Workforce Development System Liaison Project staff will share this resource during a webinar and explore ways partners can work together to provide adults with strong supportive services to meet both academic and workforce goals. You can access this Friday lunchtime webinar, Support Systems - What are they and How can we Help Adults Build Strong Ones?, through the PD Portal. The webinar recording, slides, and materials will also be posted in the portal if you are unable to attend on 2/26/2021. Additional one-on-one support and technical assistance around this resource is also available by emailing KayLynn (klh267@psu.edu) or Chrissie (cok5111@psu.edu).
Professional Learning for Adult Education and Family Literacy Staff
Staff at PDE-funded adult education and family literacy agencies can view a list of upcoming courses now available for enrollment in the PD Portal. For more information about any of these courses, please visit the PD Portal, open the course catalog, and review the syllabus. If you are interested in enrolling in a course, please consult with your in-house professional development specialist (IHPDS) to determine if the course meets your professional learning goals.
State and National Adult Education News
PAACE 2021 Conference Will Be Virtual
The Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education (PAACE) will hold its 2021 conference virtually on April 20 - 23. Days' schedules will be half day, alternating between afternoon and morning. Those who registered and paid for the 2020 PAACE Conference are automatically registered for this year. You can also choose to transfer your 2021 registration to another individual to take your place. Current PAACE members who had registered for the 2020 conference can use a complementary registration and "bring a buddy for free" in 2021. More information will come soon and be available on the PAACE conference website.
COABE National Award Winners
The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) recently announced the winners of their national awards including Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year, Outstanding State Innovation of the Year, and others.
Grants and Scholarships
Pathway Home Grant
The purpose of this pilot program is to provide eligible, incarcerated individuals in state correctional facilities or local or county jails with workforce services prior to release and to continue services after release by transitioning the participants into reentry programs in the communities to which they will return. These grants are job-driven and build connections to local employers that will enable transitioning offenders to secure employment. These projects ensure that transitioning offenders are prepared to meet the needs of their local labor markets with the skills valued by employers. Applicants must ensure that occupational training provided has no federal, state, or local regulations that restrict individuals with criminal records from obtaining licenses or other necessary credentials in that career. Therefore, applicants will need to research existing barriers for individuals with criminal records in relation to specific industries. Employer connections will inform specific program curricula and ensure relevance to the needs of local businesses and jobs. Teaching transitioning offenders foundational skills, such as job readiness, employability, and job search strategies, in addition to providing apprenticeships and occupational training leading to industry-recognized credentials, can provide access to employment and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. Learn more online.
NCFL Develops List of Funding Opportunities
The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) continues to maintain a list of available funding opportunities that can be of interest for organizations that promote literacy and work with families. You can see the up-to-date list online.
Include Students in Your Grant Writing
Applying for a grant for something that will enhance and improve student learning is a complicated task that requires the skills of budgeting, anticipating problems, constructing logical and compelling arguments, prioritizing, and managing time. These are all skills that adult learners need as well, so why not include your students in the process? The article Including Students in Your Grant Writing discusses how to convey these benefits to your students by building your grant writing into your classroom activities.
Job Posting
The job postings below are for adult basic education programs funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and, at least in part, by WIOA Title II funds. You can also find the postings on the paadultedresources.org website. To post a job, please email the job advertisement to dschauer@tiu11.org

PA Adult Education Resources
Upcoming State and National Conferences
State and National Newsletters
State and national organizations' newsletters are listed below and may be of interest to you. To receive the most recent editions by email, please subscribe directly to the newsletter. 

OCTAE Connection, US Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical & Adult Education Features news and resources for adult basic, career, and technical education

Families Learning: News of the Week, National Center for Families Learning
Features information and resources for family literacy, early childhood education, and parent education.

WorkforceGPS, Workforce3 One Features career pathways and workforce development information.

COABE Connections, Coalition On Adult Basic Education Features national information, resources, and initiatives for adult basic education.

World Education/U.S. Features resources and information from World Education projects including EdTech Center News, The Change Agent, College for Adults, E-Learning, LINCS Region 1 Professional Development Center, National College Transitional network, and many others.