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Understanding Learning Styles

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Introduction

Understanding Learning Styles People learn and become more knowledgeable in different ways by the use of varied preferred learning styles. It is often a criticism of educators by pupils, that in general they do not always present learning material and activities in ways that are accessible and attractive to all. This essay will identify these various learning styles. It will discuss how proper understanding of these preferred styles and their correct deployment, through an array of portals for students designed to offer different styles of tuition, by educators can greatly assist the teaching plan for whole of class learning. It will draw on relevant research and personal experience of teaching and supporting a variety of preferred learning styles present in any one class to present a balanced analysis of the topic. Consider for a moment what you do when you have to learn something new. You probably approach the task in a similar fashion on each occasion, over time developing a pattern of behaviour that you use for new learning. This pattern is called a learning style. While we all do not approach every learning task exactly the same way, each of us develops a set of behaviours that we are most comfortable with. The purpose of examining learning style is to get to know certain behaviour patterns and so identify their importance to the learning style. We know that people are not all alike. We each see the world in a way that makes the most sense to us as individuals. ...read more.

Middle

The most prominent feature that differentiates Curry's terminology from others is the degree to which they can be observed and understood. For example, learning preferences are often expressed, in phases like "I really like working in groups", "I just can't come to terms with new concepts unless I discuss them with others". Similarly, learning and cognitive strategies may be noticed by observing students or by allowing them to think aloud as they study. Similarly they can often be evidenced through the use of a questionnaire or psychometric test. Various instruments have been developed for this purpose including the Honey and Mumford's (2000) learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) or Riding's (1991) Cognitive Styles Analysis (CSA). Much of the research on this topic has been conducted by psychologists using psychometric tests of personality and intelligence, and the results used to design training in management and educational settings (Allinson & Hayes, 1994) Since the 1970's there has been an increased focus on the applicability of learning styles research for learners in a range of educational settings, thus broadening the scope of research on individual differences. In my work as a teaching instructor of Design and Technology, I have found that knowing these differences in learning style help me plan for an effective lesson. It has helped me to use varied strategies of notes and presentations to convince learners to try new styles. In the Secondary school that I work we have adopted a policy for all teachers to spend time on learning styles and studying methods in relation to their own particular subjects. ...read more.

Conclusion

Insofar this approach employs additional ways of presenting content or structuring the task in the classroom. Making decisions however, based on learning style information alone may be unwise if the selected approach restricts students in some way. Forms of learning through workshops, practical activities or through informal methods may suit some students more than others. Sometimes, students display a feeling of not being good at learning when it may be just that they don't know their own learning styles and need to be coached into recognising it. What is desirable is to create a learning environment for all which optimises opportunity, respects the need to be private and alone with one's work, encourages the sharing of ideas and activities, and which builds on the assumption that all pupils are learning supporters for each other. Appendix I STAGES OF THE LEARNING CYCLE ACCORDING TO KOLB, 1984 Honey & Mumford's adaptation of Kolb's cycle Honey, p. & Mumford, A. (1992) Appendix ii Example of questionnaire circulated in schools Learning Styles Survey- Please tick appropriate box GENDER MALE FEMALE AGE RANGE 11-13 14-16 18-25 25 + (Please circle) DO YOU PREFER TO LEARN BY... (Tick appropriate box/es) YES NO Having lots of short activities in the class that are well structured? Being able to listen to all information carefully before doing all your work? Doing units of work presented to you in the form of reading and questions? Doing practical experiments? Needing to know the reasons why you are learning a particular topic? Looking and listening rather than reading and writing? Having the teacher regularly check your work to see if you are progressing? Being in charge of your own way of learning i.e. ...read more.

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