Choose Your Own [Learning] Adventure

If you ask any educator to define their teaching style, you’re bound to receive a plethora of responses. It’s likely they will categorize their style as “traditional” or “contemporary”, and then proceed define it by the practices employed to engage students. There will be mention of in-person lectures, virtual classrooms, interactive modules or labs, and much, much more. The one commonality among all the elaborate explanations is that they will conclude the the exact same claim- that this particular method is the BEST. But for whom is it the best: the educator or the student? Would all students in a class agree with the educator’s teaching method?

The answer is no, they likely would not.

Just as there are a multitude of teaching methods, many learning styles have also been recognized. I did a little research, and found there are at least seven learning styles (visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, solitary) that comprise an individual’s learning profile.  An individual’s preferred styles guide the way they learn, internally represent experiences, and how information is recalled. It seems logical to assume that no single teaching style can successfully or effectively engage every student to learn. So if there isn’t a “blanket” method, how is one educator expected to effectively engage a whole classroom!?

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Personally, I think educators will be able to engage more students with a hybrid style I like to call “Choose Your Own [Learning] Adventure”. The inspiration for this style comes from a game-book series I read during my youth titled Choose Your Own Adventure. Each adventure-based story was written in second-person, allowing the reader to assume control of decisions that impact the plot’s outcome. I believe that learning should be presented in a similar manner. Instead of the educator dictating a singular learning path, they should provide a variety of options and allow the student to dictate their own learning adventure. Educators can do this by providing materials/experiences geared towards engaging each of the seven learning styles. By doing so, students can select control their learning experience and dictate the own unique learning path.

choose3Now, do I believe the “Choose Your Own [Learning] Adventure” method will result in the success of every student? Absolutely not. Similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, not all learning paths lead to a “happy ending”. There is always risk involved when one assumes responsibility for their own outcomes. The path to learning is riddled with unforeseen pitfalls and booby traps that can fell many an adventurer. Still, I think such a method is an intriguing alternative that may provide [student] adventurers with the opportunity to actively engage in the learning experience. However, there will always exist a select group of adventurers who prefer to have a “guide” outline their path for them.

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7 thoughts on “Choose Your Own [Learning] Adventure

  1. Great post!

    I thought the “Choose Your Own (Learning) Adventure” was a great angle for looking at ways to better engage students, especially with your observation that “Similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, not all learning paths lead to a “happy ending”. There is always risk involved when one assumes responsibility for their own outcomes.” (Isn’t that the truth?!)

    While the risk is real, I think much of the time students are motivated by these opportunities, finding themselves willing to take risks they might otherwise have avoided. In the end, a “choose your own adventure” style of teaching seems like another useful tool for class instruction beyond the traditional lecture option, and it’s something I’ll keep in mind as I design future courses. Thanks for sharing this!

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  2. I really enjoyed this post! I find that the perspective of “choose your own adventure” both daunting and intriguing. I think that there are a lot of opportunities for this type of learning, especially when it comes to homework assignments and projects. For an initial method of sharing content how would you see this working?

    Again, great post! If I’m not in class on Wednesday, it’s because I ran off and joined the space circus.

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  3. This was a very insightful post and I enjoyed reading it. Ironically, I now recall that I learned about the learning styles a long time ago in a class but I couldn’t remember it!

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  4. While I agree that teaching styles and their combinations give a different learning environment, we often fail to point out the assumption that a teacher/educator knows about their subject well enough. Worse, we don’t frequently discuss that teachers may be asked or decide to teach something they are not knowledgeable with enough to communicate through any teaching style.

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  5. Agree with all of the above! I want to choose my own learning adventure! Also, I think we need to build on and develop strength among the 7 learning style preferences. Recognizing that someone has an aptitude for one particular mode is important, and that needs to be capitalized whenever possible. But we also want to develop other kinds of competencies — recognize that different ways of learning / knowing are complementary.

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  6. Very intriguing point. I think this is why emphasizing responsibility is very important when lecturing in front of students. We often put too much pressure and responsibility on teachers such that students may have forgotten that they are the final persons to be responsible for their learning experiences, outcomes, and impacts. Everyone is individually unique and they can choose their own learning adventure. However, they have to be carefully reminded that they are responsible for every step they take towards their next journal. Teachers should respect students on their idiosyncratic way of learning, by the same time, students should also show their respect to their teachers in engaging such learning process.

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