Arguably, the efficacy of teaching and learning in nursing considerably depends on learning methods and learning styles (Boström & Hallin, 2013; Peyman, et al., 2014; Tsingos, Bosnic-Anticevich, & Smith, 2015). As such, different learners adopt different learning styles depending on how effective the learning styles are in meeting learning objectives. It is imperative to note that readiness to learn plays a significant role in learning processes. In addition, a number of factors determine learners’ readiness to learn.
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For instance, nursing learners are psychologically and socially heterogeneous with varied characteristics such as different ages, culture, mental preparedness, and levels of intelligence among others. Other factors that affect learning include curricular issues, learning atmospheres, and/or teaching methods. As such, learning modalities among nursing students are diverse even in a single cohort (Fleming, McKee, & Huntley-Moore, 2011).
Thus, for learning effectiveness and efficiency to be augmented in nurse education, learning styles and teaching methods should be organised and individualised, where necessary, to allow the learners recall instinctively the discernment, processing, stored knowledge and nursing concepts (Sinnerton & Leonard, 2014; Crannell & Witte, 2012).
This essay analyses various learning styles, which are adopted by nurse students in my cohort and my preferred learning styles. The essay uses the Kolb’s learning model to classify learning styles. The Kolb’s model is comprised of four categories of learning methods: diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating (Tsingos et al., 2015). The cohort members may prefer any of the four Kolb’s styles while I prefer the diverging learning style.
My preferred learning style (the diverging learning style)
A nurse learner who prefers the divergent learning style is an open-minded person (Tsingos et al., 2015). In addition, the diverging learner works the best in groups and makes use of observation, reflection, and imagination. According to research, the ‘diverger’ performs the best in sessions that require intensive brainstorming (Mohammadi & Thaghinejad, 2014).
It is worth noting that the ‘diverger’ perceives concepts from a bigger picture relative to learners using other of the Kolb’s learning styles. Further, a student adopting the diverging learning style highly regards constructive feedback and prefers working collaboratively to figure out problems (Tsingos et al., 2015).
Therefore, I meet my learning goals through learning problems, group work/discussions, and demonstrations. When external factors influence learning and the VARK (Visual/Aural/Read–Write/Kinaesthetic) model is adopted, I use multimodal approaches (Ibrahim & Hussein, 2016; Aina-Popoola & Hendricks, 2014). I can use the VARK methods together to achieve the set nursing educational objectives. However, the kinaesthetic and the visual methods are the most pertinent since observation and brainstorming are the key pillars of the diverging learning style.
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Factors that affect my readiness to learn
It is generally agreed that the nurse learning environments are influenced by various factors (Mitchell, James, & D’Amore, 2015). As such, numerous issues, which influence the mental and psychosocial readiness, affect the learner. Factors such as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, general attitude, self-esteem, and teaching methods adopted by the educators are likely to affect my readiness to learn. In addition, environmental factors such as noise levels, temperature, and lighting among others highly influence my readiness to learn.
Anticipated cohort learning styles
As seen earlier learning styles differ from one person to another. As such, different people prefer certain learning styles depending on how effective the learning styles are in meeting learning objectives. Apparently, learners in the same cohort may have different learning styles.
According to the Kolb’s classification, there are four major categories of learning styles. Members of my cohort fall under any of the four types of learners, which include converging, assimilating, accommodating, and diverging.
The converging learning style
Learners who prefer the converging learning style predominantly possess “abstract, conceptual, and active experimental learning abilities” (Tsingos et al., 2015, p. 234). Relative to other learners, cohort members who adopt the converging learning style are somewhat unemotional and prefer to work independently (Sinnerton & Leonard, 2014). As such, they meet their learning goals by experimenting their own ideas and by adopting hypothetical deductive reasoning. In addition, “convergers” work well with technical and practical empirical approaches while making use of interactive online methods.
The assimilating learning style
Learners who adopt the assimilating learning style have “abstract, conceptualization, and reflective observation abilities” (Tsingos et al., 2015, p. 234). Some of the predominant characteristics of these cohort members include seriousness, logical, ability to grasp high order concepts, and create theoretical models using inductive reasoning. In addition, assimilators are more likely to do additional work reading from varieties of sources independently (Sinnerton & Leonard, 2014).
The accommodating learning style
Students who prefer the accommodating learning “style have concrete, active experimental, and experience learning abilities” (Tsingos et al., 2015, p. 234). They meet their learning goals through empirical approaches. It is worth noting that oftentimes intuition and risk taking influence accommodators’ experiments. As such, accommodators would rather learn from their empirical observation than from traditional didactic techniques (Mohammadi & Thaghinejad, 2014).
The diverging learning style
Students who prefer the diverging learning style possess concrete, experience, and reflective observation learning abilities (Tsingos et al., 2015). Most of their characteristics have been discussed earlier under my preferred learning style.
Meeting every learners’ needs
Nursing instructors, curriculum developers, and all other pertinent stakeholders should therefore pay significant attention to the learning styles of all the students. Additionally, the nursing teachers should take into consideration the dominant learning style(s) in each cohort in order to augment learning outcomes. However, it is paramount for the instructors to incorporate and involve all the members of the cohort paying attention to individual differences. Therefore, appropriateness of teaching methods to students’ learning styles should be vital.
For instance, students with converging and divergent styles should be exposed to teaching methods based on problem solving, group discussions, and empirical demonstrations.
Online settings verses One-on-one settings
Online settings propagate the didactic traditional learning modules where the learners get reading materials through the internet. This method requires learners with somewhat abstract learning capabilities and with inductive reasoning (Tsingos et al., 2015).
The online learning setting may not be the best for a divergent nursing student. The divergent learning style requires a lot of collaborative approaches and group work. The advancement in technology notwithstanding, interacting online is quite expensive and may not be the most effective method.
One-on-one settings are somewhat flexible and can easily be modified by learning instructors. As such, nursing teachers can incorporate any of the four learning styles by tailoring and individualizing teaching techniques. Diverging learner is likely to benefit more from one-on-one settings relative to online settings.
Diverging learning style, target audience and practicum project
It is evident that different students prefer varied learning styles and, therefore, each teaching method relate differently to every target audience. The divergent learning style is one of the predominant styles among many nurse students. Therefore, a considerable percentage of my cohort members are more likely to be positively influenced and understand nursing concepts when diverging methods are adopted. Nonetheless, effective learning of some learners, especially those that work better independently, may be hampered. Thus, the practicum project will be more successful where group work is needed than to where learners prefer learning independently.
Learning styles are some of the key factors that influence students’ outcomes. Evidently, there are different learning styles that nurse students prefer. The Kolb’s model classifies learning styles into four categories, including converging, diverging, assimilating, and accommodating methods.
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For effective learning, therefore, there should be a balance between learning and teaching methods. Nursing instructors, thus, should use the most appropriate methods to facilitate learning.
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