Learning is a dynamic psychological process that entails getting information into the mind of an individual. The learner concentrates on his proficiencies, memorizes, and finally articulates his thoughts and perceptions. It makes the individual make sense about his environment hence enabling him to acclimatize to new conditions. Learning style is a collection of cognitive, expressive, characteristic, and psychological factors that function as stable pointers of how a learner identifies, associates with, and reacts to the learning environment. It is the various methods or ways a person applies to the learning.
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Various learning methods are unique to individuals that allow a person to learn best. There is no assessment of the learning style that has been established, which is broadly accepted. Data available on the legitimacy of the context of learning styles is not strong enough. Teaching techniques that indulge one style of learning are, most of the time, not specific to that learning style (Bauer & Erdogan, 2010).
Recognizing one’s learning technique and matching it with the right strategy can lead to high academic achievement. Investigations on learning style demonstrate more aspects to learning than a simple preference for the surroundings or channel. To know the best learning style for an individual, the individual should first establish what kind of learner he is. Many factors, both environmental and personal, affect the way people learn.
In the upcoming years, the community is likely to realize a radical shift in how learning in an organization occurs. This may be attributed to fast technological improvements, social responsiveness, and cultural unification. Understanding one’s learning style enhances the organization’s capacity to deal with these issues and establish an environment that is jointly advantageous both to the organization and to the learner (Pritchard, 2008, p. 100).
Many people opt for methods that encompass interaction, internalizing, and processing the given information. People who advocate for learning styles argue that teachers should look for and adopt the best methods that fit each student. This approach method is termed as the meshing hypothesis. It is of utmost importance for one to know his preferred learning style. This helps in maximizing a person’s learning potential and thus improves his performance. There are different learning styles, and learners need to identify which method suits them most (Cashdan, 2009, p. 66). This paper will discuss the different learning style dimensions and how to identify the best learning style. It will finally identify how to explore strategies for working with one’s preferred learning style.
There are many learning styles that individuals apply while learning. Different people have a learning style that they prefer. This diversification in style is attributed to the different strengths that individuals are endowed. A lot of research has been done on various learning styles. One research focused on different learning dimensions, such as character traits, environmental preferences, and cognitive ability. Based on this research, there are five distinct learning styles. These learning styles include reading or listening, seeing or visualizing, experiencing, reflecting or evaluating, and feeling (Stafford & Griggs, 2000).
Listening or reading learning systems are associated with auditory learners. These persons benefit most from talks and speeches. These learners have to listen to things to learn. They can understand a lot of information by just listening. These individuals have skills in organizing and sequencing information. Their approach to life is also methodical, as may be seen in their everyday undertakings. They mostly remember things by use of a checklist and are considered reliable. These individuals fail to multitask, as they always have to complete one task before they embark on another. They are also known for their preference for working individually rather than working in groups (Torres & Sonia, 1993).
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Seeing or visualizing the learning style is associated with visual learners. These types of learners observe things in their process of learning. Visual learners enjoy images and are fascinated by graphical representations. They use a visual approach to remembering information. They do this by embedding visual imagery in their mind when internalizing information. These individuals draw a lot of pleasure in learning through visual representations.
They are also proficient in understanding when discussing or solving a problem. Visual learners require adequate time to complete activities or tasks. They are also more interested in the outside look of something than the value of it. Visual learners are also known for not paying attention to detail (Cashdan, 2009, p. 66).
Experiencing or hands-on learning style is attributed to kinesthetic learners. These learners perform things in their process of learning. This learning is most useful in the assemblage and making of products. These persons are skilled in demonstrating how things are done and find it easy to teach others. They are known for missing instructions or misinterpreting information given to them orally. Kinesthetic learners find it hard to pay attention to detail, and this is mostly true to the information given in the written form (Torres & Sonia, 1993).
Social or emotional learners are persons who tend to work with others or in a group. They like feeling or belonging to a group, and this improves their performance tremendously. These types of learners encourage their peers to join in a task and are highly motivational. They enjoy working in teams and are extremely concerned about their friends’ and colleagues’ wellbeing. For these learners, the discussion is paramount and tremendously stimulating. These learners tend to become dependent on help from one another and may find it hard to undertake a task entirely on their own. Their feelings profoundly influence them, which usually affects their judgment (Sims, 1995, p. 114).
The metacognitive learners are those persons who love reflecting and evaluating. These learners always like to get an overview before embarking on any task. They tend to be superb at problem solving and reflection. They like applying previous knowledge while learning new information. They usually take their time to assess situations and seek advice. These learners usually like working alone, and in a group, they seem to frustrate others. Metacognitive learners usually seem to take a long time to complete tasks (Sims, 1995, p. 114).
For several reasons, the use of flashcards appears to be immensely helpful in all the learning styles. For instance, for an auditory learner, shouting the answers using flashcards assists in context solidification. For a visual learner, observing the solutions noted down on a flashcard can be supportive. For a kinesthetic learner, developing and systematizing flashcards helps the context stick in the learners’ minds (Bauer & Erdogan, 2010).
Identifying the best learning style
Many theories have been put forth to help in the identification of the best learning style. This can be examined through four dimensions, namely personality, information dispensation, social interaction, and, finally, the instructional method used. Several learning style records have been used in identifying the learning styles that best suit an individual. “They include Kolb’s model, Honey and Mumford’s model, Anthony Gregorc’s model and Sudbury model of democratic education” (Torres & Sonia, 1993).
Kolb’s model is based on Experimental Learning theory, and it encompasses four approaches: active experimentation, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and concrete experience. An effective learning style, according to this model, must involve these four approaches. When an individual tries to use all the four approaches, he acquires strength in grasping and transforming approach. The consequent learning style is a combination of a person’s preferred approach (Lewis & Steinberger, 2008).
This model represents various learners that include assimilators, convergers, accommodators, and divergers. Convergers are portrayed by active experimentation as well as abstract conceptualization. They are excellent at practical applications of notions and solve problems by deductive reasoning. Divergers are inclined towards reflective observation and concrete experience. These persons are imaginative and are adept at raising new ideas. They also see things from different perspectives. Assimilators are portrayed by reflective observation and abstract conceptualization. They are proficient in creating hypothetical models by persuasive reasoning. Accommodators apply active experimentation and concrete experience. These persons are extremely engaging and do things rather than study them (Bauer & Erdogan, 2010).
Honey and Mumford’s model
This model adapts Kolb’s model and is used by middle and senior managers in enterprises. It makes two adaptations to Kolb’s model. Firstly, it renames the cycles to managerial decision-making experiences, and secondly, it renames the learning styles. The learning stages are renamed to experiencing, experience review, conclusions drawn from experience, and development of the next steps. The styles are renamed according to the stages.
Experiencing or having an experience is renamed to Activist while reviewing on experience is renamed to Reflector. A theorist refers to concluding on the experience, and a Pragmatist is used to refer to planning the next steps. According to this model, the four learning styles are acquired at will or adapted through circumstance change. On completion of the self-assessment, learners are expected to strengthen underutilized styles. This is supposed to help them become better equipped to learn from everyday experiences (Pritchard, 2008, p. 100).
Anthony Gregorc’s model
Gregorc and his colleague Butler worked on a model that describes how the human mind works. This model is based on the perception’s existence. It proposes that the world evaluation is by means that make sense to learners. In turn, these perceptions are the basis of people’s learning styles. This model is made up of two perceptual qualities, namely concrete and abstract. It is also made up of two ordering abilities, namely random and sequential.
The concrete perceptions engage in the information registry through the five senses of human beings. On the other hand, abstract perceptions involve an understanding of notions and ideas that cannot be seen. According to the ordering abilities, sequential involves the association of information in logical ways, while random entails the organization of information in an unspecified manner (Eide, 2006, p.462).
Sudbury model of democratic education
This model assumes that each child has a distinct learning style and speed. According to this model, each child is exceptional in his own way and is proficient in learning and succeeding. Sudbury emphasizes that there are many methods of studying and learning. His model asserts that learning is a practice done by an individual and not a practice done to the individual. It proves that there are many techniques of learning without the involvement of a teacher.
For instance, some kids learn from stories being read to them, committing these stories to their memories, and then finally reading them. Other children learn from game directives, serial boards, and street symbols. Some even teach themselves syllables, correspondence sounds, and intact words. This model adduces that children should not be forced, cajoled, or induced to learn. Sudbury model may be identified as the best learning model since it allows the learner to obtain pleasure from personal liberty, thus encouraging him to apply personal accountability for his deeds. Therefore, it enables the learner to learn at his speed and technique rather than adhering to an obligatory and chronologically founded curriculum. Children taught by adhering to this proposed style do not face learning disabilities (Lewis & Steinberger, 2008).
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Exploring strategies for working with ones preferred learning style
While exploring strategies for working with one’s preferred learning style, it is necessary to consider how to link information, the preferred sensual input, how to make data expressive, and finally, the preferred learning pattern. The learner should focus on his own habits, predilections, and experiences. The learner should also choose the learning method he prefers. This includes learning by observing, performing, reading, or even conversing with a group. He should clearly state whether he likes realities, practical information, or philosophy. He should also express the senses via which he prefers to obtain information from and whether he prefers learning through stages or abruptly (Lewis & Steinberger, 2008).
Applying strategies that are convenient to an individual’s learning style is essential for learning to be effective. For learners who are sensors, their concentration during learning should be on the details and realities of what has been revealed.
For intuitors, they should concentrate on a deep comprehension of fascinating new concepts. Visual learners should represent much of their work in a graphic form such as tables since this helps make comparisons. They should learn new terminologies by parsing words into conversant parts and using cue cards for training. They should use color, boxes, and minions to demonstrate key concepts (Eide, 2006, p.462). They should learn how to make use of mind maps for condensing texts. They should make maximum use of arrows to show associations between contexts (Spoolman & Scott, 2011).
Verbal learners should read aloud and make sure that they listen to and hear the learning material sounds in their minds. They should verbally deduce information from tables, charts, and other graphics. They should talk privately to themselves as they learn while simultaneously answering personal questions to help direct their concentration. At the end of each chapter, the learner should make short notes. He should record himself while summarizing the principal points in a chapter or learning material and then pin his ears back on the tape as a remembrance aid. It is recommended that verbal learners should study with a colleague and discuss the issues they seem not to understand (LeFever, 1995, p. 138).
Reading is usually perplexing for kinesthetic learners due to the necessity for intense concentration and the lack of bodily, motor founded learning. This should learn through the use of a pointer or their fingers. They should write down short notes as they continue with the learning process. They should make illustrations of how they would carry out an experiment or resolve a problem. They should consider the real-world associations with what they are learning.
They should read within their concentration span while relaxing as required and involve bodily activity to minimize anxiety. This should try as much as possible to lessen the learning materials by limiting the chief learning sections.
Learners should identify their weaknesses, foresee gaps and trials in their learning undertakings, apply additional care and effort to enhance skills in their non-favorite dimensions, and interact with other learners with a distinct learning style to learn new skills and develop outstanding reasoning skills (Sims, 1995, p. 114). If well applied, the above strategies will make learning information hugely significant to the learner, hence leading to effective learning (Spoolman & Scott, 2011).
Although individuals tend to rely on a central learning style, the capability to adapt to distinct learning conditions is an immense plus. One should grab a new learning style anytime he gets an opportunity. Enough practice helps in processing information in various ways. Students should use certain models and theories to recognize their favorite learning styles and exploit their academic experience by concentrating on what is most beneficial to them. People should be cognizant of their learning styles to relate them to their characters and life experiences. This will lead to better personal knowledge; hence the learner can obtain the maximum advantage from learning and leisure activities (Eide, 2006, p.462).
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