How We Teach and How They Learn, Part 11 - Learning Styles and Questions
Many manuscripts are submitted to CEP for publication consideration. I like to read the Bible studies, but I don’t start with the written sections, rather, I start with examining the questions. I am convinced if the questions are not written well; the rest is just commentary and not Bible study.
Every question contains an “action verb.” This word determines the level of the question. Remember, the goal of Christian education is not just knowledge, it is changed lives, and this can only be accomplished when we put right knowledge into practice.
Years ago it was established there are six basic levels by which actions verbs are measured:
Cognitive – This is the lowest level, asking students to recite information given to them.
Comprehension – This level helps the student move from memorization to understanding, such as discovering relationships among facts.
Application – Here the student takes what was learned and puts it into a new setting involving real life.
Analyze – This step requires the taking apart and examining each to see how it relates to the whole.
Synthesize – Now the student is able to take the parts analyzed and put it together into a different setting. This is higher critical thinking. Putting students into a role-play will move them to think through issues they may not have personally encountered, such as taking what they know about their Christian faith and witnessing to a Muslim.
Evaluation – This is the highest level of creative thinking. Now the student will be asked to judge between the good or bad, right or wrong, useful or useless, etc. Competent evaluation requires good analysis.
The cognitive level might be the lowest level, but it is still an important level. Memorizing the books of the Bible may seem mundane, but it is important in enabling students to move to the next level of study.
A colleague of mine in Kenya once told me if he could just get the faculty to teach to the application level he could die a happy man. But, if our goal is to see the lives of those entrusted to us changed, then we must understand the process by which this is done. Memorizing the books of the Bible will not get anyone growing spiritually. They need to be taught to dig into the Bible at a higher level. Memorizing verses will not get them growing spiritually either. (I must add here this is sadly a lost art in the church today, and needs to be rectified.) Learners must understand those verses and be able to apply them. Then they can be taught to think critically about those verses so they will be skilled in growing on their own and be able to teach others also.
When you ask questions in class, or when you write them in a study, you need to evaluate (highest level) your questions. This, again, is determined by the action verbs you use. We will post this article on our website along with a chart giving you the action verbs for each category. Remember, there are times for low level questions, but these should be minimal. Higher critical thinking produces Kingdom minded Christians who know how to think and evaluate their lives and the world around them.
Using higher critical thinking questions works for all learning styles. However, the analytics will be content to stay with the learning of facts. This is never satisfactory, as God requires us to put His Word into practice.
If you are thinking about submitting a manuscript to us, I suggest evaluating your questions first.
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