Different Learning Styles
A person’s learning style or main process of learning is crucial to his or her development and acquisition of knowledge. There are various learning styles which differ in terms of one’s approach to learning. These learning styles are essential to making education effective.
Learning style is a broad concept that encompasses the “cognitive, affective, and physiological dimensions of learning” (Kirk & Lakes 1992: 145). The cognitive aspect involves how one processes thought and information. On the other hand, the affective aspect of learning deals with feelings toward the learning experience. Finally, the physiological aspect defines the environment that espouses effective learning, such as the place and time of day when learning is conducted (Kirk & Lakes 1992: 145).
There are several learning theories which attempt to describe people’s learning styles. For instance, David Kolb developed the learning styles model. His model gave rise to the experiential learning theory (ELT) and learning styles inventory (LSI). Kolb’s experiential learning theory describes four learning styles which are based on the four-stage learning cycle, the main principle of his learning theory. The four-stage cycle of learning includes “concrete experiences, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation”. This theory states that immediate or concrete experiences pave the way for observations and reflections which are eventually broken down into abstract concepts. These concepts can be utilized in application to real life situations and can give rise to new experiences (Chapman 2008: n.p.). The cycle is a never-ending process. People learn things by creating concrete experiences and applying what they learned to produce new experiences.
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford also believed that experiences are the best way for people to learn. They identified four main learning styles which correspond to the different stages of the learning circle. These learning styles include the Activists, Reflectors, Theorists, and Pragmatists. The activists are the people that let themselves enjoy new experiences. They are open-minded and flexible. They act and think of the consequences after. The reflectors are the kind of people who stand back and observe things. They carefully collect and analyze data pertaining to events an experiences and they gradual reach conclusions. As reflectors, they utilize pertinent information from the past, present, and their observations to create a big picture of the event. Theorists, on the other hand, are objective people who think things thoroughly. They are disciplined and aim to fit things with rationality. Finally, the pragmatists are keen and eager to apply new ideas and experiment. They get straight to the point and act quickly on new ideas and information (Swinton).
There are different activities that fit the preferred learning activities of people. Activists enjoy physical learning activities while reflectors and theorists learn more through deliberation of ideas and thinking. Lastly, pragmatists learn through the application of what they have learned.
As a Social Care student, I believe that I can use my knowledge of the different learning styles in working with service users. Service users pertain to patients and the members of the society who receive health promotion and public health programmes (NIHR Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment [NCCHTA] n.d.). As a person’s learning style reflects his or her personality and attitude, identifying the learning styles of the patients can help in determining the best way for them to recover. For example, an activist likes physical activities and recovery can be best conveyed when it involves physical exercise that the patient prefers. On the other hand, Kolb’s learning theory can be best applied in devising new treatments and medications for the service users. Experiences, observations, and abstract conceptualization can give rise to new findings for the treatment of a particular disease, while testing its effectivity may lead to new experiences, observations, and abstract conceptualizations.
List of References
Chapman, A. (2008) Kolb Learning Styles [online] available from <http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm> [3 September 2008]
Dunham, J. (1995) Developing Effective School Management. New Fetter Lane, London: Routledge
Kirk, T.G. and Lakes, D. (1992) Academic Libraries. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries
NIHR Coordinating Centre for Health Technology Assessment (NCCHTA). (n.d.). Who Are ‘Service Users’? [online] available from <http://www.ncchta.org/public/definition.shtml> [11 September 2008]
Swinton, L. (n.d.) Honey & Mumford – Learning Style Questionnaire
[online] available from <http://www.mftrou.com/honey-mumford.html> [3 September 2008]