Teaching Students How To Learn

by Ernest Barny, MBA




While teaching an ACT/SAT Preparation class my students progressed through a     research project where they discussed “Test Taking Skills” using the Internet and         search engines to identify skills and strategies to be used in class and for the        standardized tests. The result was very good, so we followed up by assigning                work groups to research and present “Learning Skills” subjects. They prepared
PowerPoint slides for their presentations, cited sources, and were graded on
the (required) accompanying written narrative as well as the research and
the presentation. The result was very good considering that other than
coaching in my class, these students had no formal instruction in using
search engines or PowerPoint. I decided to implement the same project in my
“Computer Applications I” classes (with students that have formal training
in both). The result has been tremendous and several teachers have asked if
we could video tape the presentations for Teacher In Service refreshment.


The Learning Project (Lesson Plan)

The next assignment will be slightly different than most projects that you may have experienced.  You will enjoy a group grade that is equal to three test grades.  We will break down into groups of three or four, and each will explore a topic from the following list.  Only one group may explore a topic.  We will gather information from all available resources (Internet, Text, Periodical, etc.) and prepare to present the information to the class.  Every piece of information quoted or used in any manner will be properly cited using the MLA Style.  Your topic will be presented using PowerPoint.  Each student will present part of the presentation.  We will attempt to acquire a projector and screen for this purpose. If possible, your presentation will be filmed.  Your presentation will examine the research in detail so that everyone in the class will learn what you know about the topic.  After the  information is collated and the slides are prepared, you will collectively (within your group) assess how the topic affects your test taking, learning, and knowledge.  Discuss how you may use the information in your academic career.  Summarize your discussion at the end of your final (go to press) narrative submission.

There will be three major grades for this project (and only the very best will receive an “A” in each of the three areas). 

1. You will provide a typed narrative of each speaker’s part, properly cited for one test grade.  This will occur during several stages of developing your presentation.  The grade for this area will be cumulative.

2. Your PowerPoint slides will be graded as another test and will evaluate the quality and depth of the material to be presented. 

3. The third test grade will evaluate your group and personal presentation.  A grading rubric will be provided to assist you in preparing your topic and in peer evaluation.

The overall objective of this exercise is to make you a better learner and better prepare you for the remainder of your academic career.  Present the information that you learned and pay attention to the other group’s presentations.  You will be graded by them and you will grade them.  If you understand all of the material, you will have many new tools for your learning skills inventory.


1.          Multiple Intelligences (Gardner).

2.          Bloom’s Taxonomy (Levels of Learning).

3.          Learning styles (Humanism, Behaviorism, Cognitivism) (Kolb’s Theory of Learning Styles) (Dunn & Dunn’s Learning Style Model) (4MAT).

4.         Effect of individual (student’s) personality, emotion, and biology on learning (Myers-Briggs Typology) (Brain-Based Learning).

5.         Effect of individual (student’s) culture, multi-culturism, and social environment has on learning.

6.         Effect of different teaching styles, methods and strategies on student learning.

7.         The effect that health, diet, sleep, and other physical environmental elements have on student learning.

I will personally approve each group composition and each group’s topic.  Do not proceed until you have approval.  Your news summary and vocabulary requirements do not stop, in fact the vocabulary list should dramatically increase.

Ernest Barny is certified in Vocational Business Education in North Carolina. He holds a BBA in Accounting and an MBA from Eastern Kentucky University (KY). He has been teaching High School for 8 years, following five years teaching Accounting at Fayetteville State University (NC) and four years instructional duty in the US Military. He is currently employed at Lumberton Sr. High School in Lumberton, North Carolina and can be reached at


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