Learning needs and planning

Identifying Learning Needs

Learning Styles

Items about the use of learning styles, and links to sites where you can assess your learning style on line. Browse through the links, and take a critical look at what you find.

Honey and Mumford

Peter Honey’s own web site http://www.peterhoney.com
Honey, P. & Mumford, A (1986) The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead, Peter Honey.
Honey, P. & Mumford, A (1992) Using Your Learning Styles. Maidenhead, Peter Honey.

Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory

‘Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (Kolb, D. A. 1984) is based on John Dewey’s emphasis on the need for learning to be grounded in experience, Kurt Lewin’s, work that stressed the importance of a person’s being active in learning, and Jean Piaget’s theory on intelligence as the result of the interaction of the person and the environment.’ Discusses Kolb in with other theorists abut learning styles. http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/learning/styles.html#kolb

Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) Reports on Learning Styles

Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning : A systematic and critical review
This report critically reviews the literature on learning styles and examines in detail 13 of the most influential models. The report concludes that it matters fundamentally which instrument is chosen. The implications for teaching and learning in post-16 learning are serious and should be of concern to learners, teachers and trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors http://www.lsda.org.uk/pubs/dbaseout/download.asp?code=1543

Should we be using learning styles? How can teachers be effective unless they understand how their students learn? And how can organisations improve the performance of their employees without knowing how their learning can be enhanced? Learning style instruments are widely used. But are they reliable and valid? Do they have an impact on pedagogy? This report examines 13 models of learning style and concludes that it matters fundamentally which model is chosen. Positive recommendations are made for students, teachers and trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors.

Learning Styles for Post 16 Learners : What Do We Know? A summary of the above two reports


What makes for an ‘outstanding’ teaching session?

Collegenet Update 2 (2005) used an analysis of over 300 OfSTED inspection reports of FE colleges to describe a ‘Grade 1 Lesson’ as one during which a teacher will:

  • Ensure an upbeat, enthusiastic welcome. Recap using an active learning technique and involve all.
  • Set clear aims or a maximum of three key learning points. Link to the syllabus / exam and highlight key skills / Skills for life.
  • Introduce the topic with a short exposition.
  • Aim to challenge and inspire and to build rapport.
  • Use up-to-date information, latest research findings or current commercial activity.
  • Support with some visuals, handouts, ILT and appropriate resources.
  • Check for learning and ensure key points are recorded.
  • Set an individual, paired or group activity to build key skills / skills for life and to help all consolidate learning.
  • Use planned questions to ensure differentiation and seek answers from all.
  • Offer positives and praise to each learner.
  • Summarise learning with an appropriate transition activity (i.e. visual memory aids).
  • Repeat learning cycle or end with an overall lesson summation.
  • Conduct a final check on learning against expressed aims.
  • Set formal homework task or an extended learning task.
  • Aim to consolidate learning or to introduce a bridge to the next lesson.

Much of this is to do with high quality planning.

General Planning

The ‘ASSURE’ model of planning, is user friendly, and straightforward to work with. ASSURE stands for
Analyze learners
State objectives
Select instructional methods, media, and materials
Utilize media and materials
Require learner participation
Evaluate and revise
and a good description can be found at:

Bloom, Benjamin. Taxonomy of learning Objectives.
There’s a good section on Don Clark’s site at http://www.nwlink.com/~Donclark/hrd/bloom.html

Bloom collection from Pealtrees – which is an interesting tool for sharing items on the internet

Instructional System Design (ISD) from Don Clark. He goes through this in considerable depth, and starts with:
‘So, why ISD? Simply stated, this process provides a means for sound decision making to determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of training. The concept of a system approach to training is based on obtaining an overall view of the training process. It is characterized by an orderly process for gathering and analyzing collective and individual performance requirements, and by the ability to respond to identified training needs. The application of a systems approach to training insures that training programs and the required support materials are continually developed in an effective and efficient manner to match the variety of needs in an ever rapidly changing environment. ISD is often called SAT (System Approach to Training) or ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate).’ All up to the usual Don Clark quality, and starts at: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/sat1.html

Guide for Busy Academics: Using Learning Outcomes to Design

HE teachers are expected to be able to show how the educational outcomes for a programme and learning outcomes for a module are being achieved; that the assessment methods used are appropriate to test the achievement of the intended outcomes; and that the criteria used to judge achievement are aligned to the intended learning outcomes. This guide is designed to provide a basic introduction to these things. Download here

James Anderton’s excellent ‘doceo’ web site

has a challenging piece on objectives which starts:
‘Against Learning Objectives Some people manage to talk in the same breath about being “student-centred” and the need to have clear objectives (even behavioural objectives) for their teaching. They may even be arrogant enough to want to specify the “outcomes” of their teaching.
Formulation of objectives, particularly in its extreme form as “outcomes” is naive, objectionable and patronising.’
Get reading! It’s at http://www.doceo.co.uk/heterodoxy/objectives.htm

Learning Outcomes, Session Planning, Schemes of work

Schemes of work

A Scheme of work (SoW) should be in table format and include key information about the group & course on the front page.

Key Headings:

  • programme details (aims; entry requirements; assessment arrangements; planning for student needs and differentiation
  • learning objectives / outcomes
  • topics / content
  • Key Skills/Skills for Life/Functional skills
  • session number
  • learner activity (including differentiation / extension / assessment and evaluation)
  • resources / facilities / equipment.
  • embedding of equality and diversity
  • embedding of Every Student Matters

The SoW will show thorough knowledge of the course requirements, syllabus or specifications.

An OUTSTANDING SCHEME OF WORK should contain most of the following:

  • Objectives/Outcomes which are SMART, relevant, written at the appropriate level, and cover all 3 domains of learning
  • Opportunities for participative self directed learning built in.
  • Content / topics which clearly align with objectives / outcomes, indicate themes and provide a logical progression through the sessions.
  • Account taken of varied learning styles and student needs.
  • A balance of whole class, individual & small group learning activities, supported where appropriate with ILT, and which promote deep learning.
  • Equality and diversity which is embedded into the variety of methods and resources used.
  • Opportunities for developing Key Skills / Skills for Life are present throughout
  • Opportunities for monitoring of learning and appropriate timing of any formal assessments are clearly indicated. (NB ILPs should for most courses be referred to within SoW)
  • Opportunities for student feedback on their learning, and trainee evaluation of their teaching occur regularly.
  • Differentiation: Any extension activities or anticipated additional support needs should be included.

The SoW should be a working document and not in pristine condition. It should show the changes that have occurred during its use and suggested changes for the future.

How to write a scheme of work from wikiHow


Session Planning

OUTSTANDING SESSION PLANS should include most of the following:

  • Sessions show thorough planning and are clearly based on the SoW, with all aspects of the session working together to achieve the intended learning
  • Key information about the group, additional needs support, level of course qualification outcomes, key skills/SfL references etc all need to be present.
  • A clearly planned structure to the session with clear introduction, middle & conclusion. In long sessions this may be repeated more than once.
  • Objectives / Learning Outcomes which are SMART and as per SoW but might be adapted based on evaluation of previous sessions or changing circumstances / needs.
  • Teacher activity / methods used / learner activity are stated at each point in the lesson and extension activities are included.
  • All practical, experiential activities including group work is consolidated via a plenary activity or activities which draw out key learning points from learners.
  • Assessment strategies and monitoring techniques are in use and linked to assessment activities either in or outside the session.
  • Key skills or Skills for Life are identified and relevantly linked to the subject matter, and referenced to the relevant KS specifications or the core curriculum codes.
  • Equality & Diversity are shown in planning e.g. via planned differentiation activities (Extension activities for brighter learners, additional support for learners having difficulty).
  • Linking back & linking forward between sessions is planned and recorded.

Designing learning outcomes and linking them to assessment

Extract from ‘500 Tips on Assessment: 2nd edition’ Phil Race, Sally Brown and Brenda Smith, London: Routledge (2005) Download here (MS word file)

Trainer’s Toolkit of Templates

Don Clark again – some useful downloadable templates including several which are useful in relation to key aspects of planning:

Writing Learning Outcomes – from Oxford Brookes University – at: