Foundations of Learning: Learner Styles

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Have you ever assessed your personal learning style? Do you know how it is that you learn best? Do you know how your students learn best? Have you assessed your students’ learning styles to better meet students’ needs?

You can assess your learning style here, here and here.

I purposely designed my Maker Kit lesson plan, explained fully in the previous blog post, to accommodate various learning styles. Using the Makey Makey to touch, hear and see syllables when determining syllabication allows learners to kinesthetically, audibly and visibly interact with the Makey Makey during the lesson. Fortunately, the lesson I designed can be used in individual, small-group or whole-group lessons while accommodating different types of learners. Two specific, current research articles support my pedagogical choices used in my Makey Makey syllabication lesson plan found here.

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“Assessing experiential learning styles: A methodological reconstruction and validation of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory” discusses the use of specific learning inventories in order to determine particular student learning styles and how knowledge of these learning styles positively affects academic achievement. David Kolb’s original Learning Style Inventory separated learners into four categories based on their learning styles and strengths. The general idea is that determining a student’s learning style, gives the individual learner control over their learning process and allows a teacher’s role to change “from transmitter of information to organizer and facilitator of meaningful experiences oriented around students’ individual needs” (Manolis, C., Burns, D.J., Assundani, R., Chinta, R., 2013). Unfortunately, support for Kolb’s particular LSI has not had overwhelming positive feedback for its accuracy. The article addresses this issue of learning style assessment accuracy and inaccuracy but fully supports teacher knowledge of a student’s learning style and its beneficial use in the classroom stating that “educators need to know students’ learning styles such that they can adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to maximize student learning” (Manolis, C., Burns, D.J., Assundani, R., Chinta, R., 2013). Another learning style assessment, LSQ, was developed by Honey and Mumford and although found useful, was not always determined to be accurate. The article states that these learning style assessments often address a student’s one particular learning style but fail to determine the full degree of a student’s learning style. Often, learning style assessments narrowly identify one particular style or preferred method of learning as opposed to the likely present multiple learning styles that apply to any specific learner. The second article I explored, “On the effect of learning style on scholastic achievement” supported the previous article in stating that the quality of one’s education is improved when one’s learning style is known. The article stresses the combination of instructional methods and individual learning styles as a pairing for academic achievement of all students. The researchers used Kolb’s LSI to determine the learning styles of students in college courses and also found that genders can often share similar learning styles. This particular knowledge of student learning styles can be incredibly helpful to teachers especially when pairing or grouping students for small-group instruction.

Based on the above current research, I do not feel that I need to adapt my Makey Makey lesson plan. I feel that my lesson addresses multiple types of learners when used as a whole-class activity. What I would suggest, however, is that teachers begin their year by determining learning styles as best as they can. Even though the the accuracy of such assessments, like the LSI or the LSQ, are often debated, some knowledge of a student’s learning style seems more powerful to me than no knowledge at all.  Knowledge of student learning styles used in conjunction with lesson plans that cater to specific student needs and styles are likely to lead to academic achievement and ultimately, student engagement.

References

Bhatti,Rahmatullah. (2013).On the effect of learning style on scholastic

acheivement. Current Issues in Education, 16(2). Retrieved from

http://cie.asu.edu/ojs/index.php/cieatasu/article/view/1121/498

Manolis, C., Burns, D.J., Assundani, R. & Chinta, R. (2013). Assessing experiential

learning styles: a methodological reconstruction and validation of the kolb

learning style inventory. Learning and Individual Differences, 23. Retrieved

from

http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/science/article/pii/S104

608012001495

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