P1/M1/D1- Factors that impact upon my learning and development.

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Unit 6: Personal and Professional Development

P1/M1/D1- Factors that impact upon my learning and development.

P1: Learning can be defined as "The acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study, or by being taught." (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn, accessed March 23rd 2012) You start learning from birth and the learning process continues through formal schooling and even right through to adulthood There are however many things that can influence an individual's personal learning process, these can include the following:

- Different learning styles

- Time

- Access to resources

- Learning environment

- Motivation

- Responsibilities

There are two main theories that are used when explaining the way an individual learns. These two theories are ‘Honey and Mumford’s learning styles theory (1985)’ and ‘Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984)’. Honey and Mumford’s theory states that all individuals have a specific learning style adapted to their nature, they state everyone is either an activist, reflector, theorist or a pragmatist. An activist can be defined as an individual who enjoys getting involved, likes new ideas and likes to dominate. There are both preferred and less favourable learning situations for this type of learner, less favourable situations such as working to the rules would be a factor that would impact negatively on this type of individual's learning style. It is a factor that could affect how well an individual is able to concentrate in that type of learning environment. Reflectors are known to have characteristics such as preferring to observe from the edge of the group and letting others contribute before they do, they are known to be more observers than participators. A factor that could affect their type of learning would be having to take a lead of other people or a group or feeling rushed or pressured by deadlines. These types of situations are unnerving for ‘reflectors’ and is more difficult for them to learn efficiently in those types of surroundings which in turn would affect their learning process. Theorists are known for thinking very logically, being exact and precise and everything they do must be in a exact order. Problems that would occur for them include working with a lack of structure or purpose this would be difficult and would cause interruptions in their learning because of their inability to learn without proper order and purpose. The last learning style in Honey and Mumford’s theory are the pragmatists, these are the individuals that enjoy experimenting new ideas and techniques and advance with the feedback and help from others. Their weakness would be work that is all theory based, and doesn’t include practical work where the theory is put into place. Pragmatists learn effectively by putting what they have learnt into practice. (Class notes, 27th April 2012)

The other theory that is used to explain how individuals learn is Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. This theory suggests that there are four stages of learning. All individuals are different and may enter the cycle at a different stage, and though there is no correct stage to begin at, for the best possible outcome the cycle should go as follows; beginning with concrete experience followed by reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, which is lastly followed by active experimentation before the cycles begins once again. These transactions can be better shown through the diagram below.

The diagram above shows Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning in practice. ( accessed 01 May 2012)

The first stage of Kolb’s cycle is ‘concrete experience’, this is where you have an experience of something, the doing phase where you carry out the actions required on a certain task. This is followed by the ‘reflective observation’ stage where you review the task you have just carried out, including what you did and how you think it went. The next stage ‘abstract conceptualisation’ this is can be further explained as sensemaking, it is the stage where you conclude the task you have just gone through. This means, using all the information you have now obtained and acquired, you make sense of the experiment by putting it into some form of order as to make it easily understandable. The last stage is known as ‘active experimentation’, this is the stage where you plan out and coordinate what you will do next time you do the same experiment as a means of getting better and/or more accurate results. Once this stage is completed you begin the cycle again from stage one, carrying out the action. This type of theory can affect the learning process of some, because not all individuals will enter the cycle at the same preferred stage (concrete experience) and will therefore have a different learning cycle and technique which could affect the outcome in many ways. (C. Aldworth. ‘BTEC Health and social care, Book 1’)

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Time is also another factor that has a big affect and influence on learning processes of individuals. There are some individuals that do not have enough or as much free time that is needed to commit to educational studies, as others. This can affect how well they do in terms of their learning and how much they can progress with the time they do have available. Commitment is required to be able to fully and efficiently complete all tasks, and if an individual has other commitments and priorities they may not be able to complete everything they do to ...

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