What’s Your Learning Style? Essay
What’s Your Learning Style?
Learning styles refer to the ways you prefer to approach new information. Each of us learns and processes information in our own special ways, though we share some learning patterns, preferences, and approaches. Knowing your own style also can help you to realize that other people may approach the same situation in a different way from your own.
Take a few minutes to complete the following questionnaire to assess your preferred learning style. Begin by reading the words in the left-hand column. Of the three responses to the right, circle the one that best characterizes you, answering as honestly as possible with the description that applies to you right now. Count the number of circled items and write your total at the bottom of each column. The questions you prefer will offer insight into how you learn.
1. When I try to concentrate…
I grow distracted by clutter or movement, and I notice things around me other people don’t notice.
I get distracted by sounds, and I attempt to control the amount and type of noise around me.
I become distracted by commotion, and I tend to retreat inside myself.
2. When I visualize…
I see vivid, detailed pictures in my thoughts.
I think in voices and sounds.
I see images in my thoughts that involve movement.
3. When I talk with others…
I find it difficult to listen for very long.
I enjoy listening, or I get impatient to talk myself.
I gesture and communicate with my hands.
4. When I contact people…
I prefer face-to-face meetings.
I prefer speaking by telephone for serious conversations.
I prefer to interact while walking or participating in some activity.
5. When I see an acquaintance…
I forget names but remember faces, and I tend to replay where we met for the first time.
I know people’s names and I can usually quote what we discussed.
I remember what we did together and I may almost “feel” our time together.
6. When I relax…
I watch TV, see a play, visit an exhibit, or go to a movie.
I listen to the radio, play music, read, or talk with a friend.
I play sports, make crafts, or build something with my hands.
7. When I read…
I like descriptive examples and I may pause to imagine the scene.
I enjoy the narrative most and I can almost “hear” the characters talk.
I prefer action-oriented stories, but I do not often read for pleasure.
8. When I spell…
I envision the word in my mind or imagine what the word looks like when written.
I sound out the word, sometimes aloud, and tend to recall rules about letter order.
I get a feel for the word by writing it out or pretending to type it.
9. When I do something new…
I seek out demonstrations, pictures, or diagrams.
I want verbal and written instructions, and to talk it over with someone else.
I jump right in to try it, keep trying, and try different approaches.
10. When I assemble an object…
I look at the picture first and then, maybe, read the directions.
I read the directions, or I talk aloud as I work.
I usually ignore the directions and figure it out as I go along.
11. When I interpret someone’s mood…
I examine facial expressions.
I rely on listening to tone of voice.
I focus on body language.
12. When I teach other people…
I show them.
I tell them, write it out, or I ask them a series of questions.
I demonstrate how it is done and then ask them to try.
The column with the highest total represents your primary processing style. The column with the second-most choices is your secondary style.
Your primary learning style: Auditory
Your secondary learning style: Visual
Now that you know which learning style you rely on, you can boost your learning potential when working to learn more. For instance, the following suggestions can help you get more from reading a book.
If your primary learning style is visual, draw pictures in the margins, look at the graphics, and read the text that explains the graphics. Envision the topic or play a movie in your thoughts of how you’ll act out the subject matter.
If your primary learning style is auditory, listen to the words you read. Try to develop an internal conversation between you and the text. Don’t be embarrassed to read aloud or talk through the information.
If your primary learning style is tactile/kinesthetic, use a pencil or highlighter pen to mark passages that are meaningful to you. Take notes, transferring the information you learn to the margins of the book, into your journal, or onto a computer. Doodle whatever comes to mind as you read. Hold the book in your hands instead of placing it on a table. Walk around as you read. Feel the words and ideas. Get busy—both mentally and physically.
Reflections on Learning Style Questionnaire
The format of the questionnaire is more user-friendly and attractive than traditionally structured questionnaires which require persons to either make a mark in a box or choose from several seriated options. Traditional questionnaire formats tend to give the impression that the respondents are taking a test and thus do not appeal to respondents, regardless of the purpose of the survey. Persons are usually less willing to complete questionnaires formatted in this manner. This current survey is a bit more visually appealing and does not give the feeling of completing a test.
The length of the assessment is also adequate. There are only twelve lines of items to respond to and it can be completed within ten minutes. The completion directions are also quite easy to follow. Questionnaires that are lengthy, which require significant amounts of reading and which have confusing instructions do not encourage respondents to want to complete them. However the simplicity of this questionnaire is also one of its weaknesses. I do not believe than a matter as complex and technical as one’s learning style can be so neatly parceled into a two-page, ten-minute questionnaire.
The results from this questionnaire may not be valid either. The questionnaire is structured with four columns. The first column contains the lead in and the three other columns have alternatives from which the respond is to choose. However if the respondents proceed to the end of the questionnaire they will be able to notice that the first column contains responses for persons who are visual learners, the second for auditory learners and the third for tactile/kinesthetic learners. Thus responses may be elicited, not from personal behavior, but from the individuals’ own preconception of what their learning style is.
The content of the questionnaire is limited and does not adequately cover the issue of learning styles. The questions asked of the respondent do not take into consideration the multiplicity of characteristics that and differences that may arise between individuals of different learning styles. In any case I do not agree that an individual has only one main learning style buy, similar to Kolb’s position, persons choose which learning style to use in a particular situation (see Allinson & Hayes).
The quality and description of the responses are elementary at best and cannot be used in any true sense to predict one’s learning style. This survey is probably appropriate for the individual who just wants a casual assessment of their learning preferences but is not a valid instrument to test learning style in its true sense. The Honey & Mumford Learning Style Questionnaire (Honey & Mumford, 1992) is a much more comprehensive instrument in terms of content and has a reasonable level of reliability and validity.
The results of my learning style assessment attest to the weaknesses in the questionnaire. There is very little difference in the scores I received under the category of Visual (5) and auditory (6). This suggests to me that I am almost as equally a visual learner as I am an auditory learner. However my learning style varies depending on the particular situation that I am dealing with. In reading, for example, when I am reading an action-packed novel I like to visualize the movements and actions of the characters. When I am reading a classical romance I like to think about the character’s words as these make the narrative more real to me. Equally if the narrative is scenic I like to imagine the scenery and setting. Therefore it is not a simple matter to categorize learning styles and the length and breadth of the current questionnaire does not adequately address the issue to any level of detail.
Allinson, C., & J. Hayes. (1988). The Learning Styles Questionnaire: an Alternative to Kolb’s Inventory? Journal of Management Studies, 25(3), 269-270.
Honey, P. & Mumford, A. (1992). The manual of learning styles [and] Using your learning styles. Maidenhead: Peter Honey, 1992.