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Understanding Learning

Learning, as we know already, is the process through which individuals acquire or develop knowledge, skills or behaviours. Learning usually originates from experience. An event or a sequence of events that happens on a number of occasions changes our knowledge, skill(s) or behaviour. We, thus, learn.

A more detailed definition of learning may be accessed at the page, What is learning? on the Queen’s University, Canada website.

Learning is not confined to the realms of formal educational setups like schools or colleges. It is an ongoing activity and cannot be bound by time or place. However, the likelihood of acquiring an element of knowledge or skill may vary with time or place. For instance, individuals learn their elementary social skills during their early childhood years at their homes and professional skills during their adulthood years at a college.

Similarly, the manner in which individuals prefer to or are likely to learn is not predetermined. It is flexible and varies from one individual to another. For instance, an individual may prefer learning-by-seeing over learning-by-listening. Yet another might prefer learning-by-writing over learn-by-reading. This is because the manner in which an individual taking-in/gathers, understanding/interprets, organizes and remembers information is unique. This unique manner in which an individual learns is called a learning style.

The reader may visit the article Learning Styles at the Center for Teaching page on the Vanderbilt University, Tennessee website to develop further understanding of the topic of learning styles.

Learning Styles: Definition and Classification

In simple terms, a learning style is a unique manner of taking-in/gathering, understanding, organizing and remembering/recalling information. Every individual is believed to have a unique learning style. The learning style of an individual does not stay the same throughout. It changes and evolves owing to various factors, such as age, subject area, learning environment, etc.  It should be noted that an individual’s unique learning style does not in any way limit their learning abilities. An individual’s learning style is just their preferred way of learning. It is not their only way of learning. It may happen that an individual prefers different learning styles in different situations.

 

IdeaResearchers have conducted detailed studies to classify and describe the different learning styles on the basis of their respective research on learning. A model is known as the VARK by Neil Fleming and another by David Kolb are widely discussed and cited on the internet. This article discusses the seven most commonly identified and discussed learning styles. Three of them are fundamental and the rest four are more developed. The classification of learning styles, to a certain degree, also depends on the class of learners: children, young learners and adults. The three most fundamental types of learning styles are: visual, aural and kinesthetic. The other four learning styles in addition to these three are: verbal, logical, social, solitary. It may be noted that each of these styles is also known by an alternate name(s) in different print and online texts.

Common Learning Styles

 

  • Visual Learning stylesVisual Learning Style: The visual learners prefer to use images, pictures or other visual media for learning and tend to avoid listening. They tend to retain information which is rich in visual content like graphs, maps, diagrams, etc. Graphic designers, architects, photographers, etc. belong to this category of learners.

 

 

 

  • Aural Learning StyleAural Learning Style: The aural learners prefer to learn through listening. They tend to retain information which is rich in aural content like discussions, debates, lectures, etc. Such learners may face difficulty in learning visual content like graphs, diagrams, etc. Professionals, such as counsellors, media program anchors, etc., belong to this category of learners.

 

 

 

 

  • Kinesthetic Learning StyleKinesthetic Learning Style: This is also known as the physical or tactual learning style in some texts. Physical learners are able to learn well if they are able to involve hand or body movement in the learning process. Examples of kinesthetic style exercises are: making drawings, role-playing, etc. Examples of professionals in this category include physical therapists and mechanics.

 

A short introduction to fundamental types of learners and how appropriate infographics may be designed for them may be accessed at the Prezi Blog in the article titled “The Four Different Types Of Learners, And What They Mean To Your Presentations[Infographic]”. 

Another similar short article titled “The Importance of Understanding Employee learning Styles” for working professionals may be accessed at BGW-CPA webpage.

Developed Learning Styles

 

  • Verbal Learning StyleVerbal Learning Style: This is also known as the auditory-verbal or verbal (linguistic) style. Learners from this category prefer to learn through the use of language in different forms, viz. reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Verbal style learners are known to learn different languages.

 

 

  • Logical Learning StyleLogical Learning Style: This is also called the mathematical style. Learners from this category employ logical and mathematical reasoning to further their knowledge and learning. Engineers, scientists, mathematicians, etc. belong to this category of learners.

 

 

 

  • Social Learning StyleSocial Learning Style: This is also called the interpersonal style. Learners from this category have a strong ability to communicate with people and employ this ability to develop their own knowledge. Sociologists and psychologists belong to this category of learners.

 

 

 

  • Solitary Learning StyleSolitary learning Style: This is also known as the intrapersonal style. Learners from this category prefer to be on their own without any supervision. Such learners are self-motivated, self-managed, and may be introverts. Entrepreneurs belong to this category of learners.

 

An elaborate article on different learning styles titled “Discover Your Learning Style – Comprehensive Guide on Different Learning Styles”  may be accessed at the Education Corner website.

Learning Styles: Importance and Identification

 

Developing and employing effective pedagogy has always been an area of concern for educators. Employment of ineffective pedagogies may ultimately result in poor learning outcomes. The concept of learning styles is designed to mitigate this problem. Knowledge of learning styles can help an instructor decide the type of exercises, learning activities, and method of instruction for a class. For instance, the method of instruction for visual learners may include charts, graphs, posters, pictures, etc.; the method of instructions for auditory learners may include recorded speeches, podcasts or audio-books etc. In the case of a class comprising students with different learning styles, a balanced combination of different methods of instruction may be adopted.  The adoption of appropriate pedagogy thus aids the learning process. This, in turn, ensures that the learning sessions become more fulfilling, ultimately leading to the achievement of intended learning outcomes.

 

It is important, however, to identify the learning style of an individual before suitably applicable strategies can be adopted for teaching and learning. The VARK is one of the most popular online tools which is available free of cost for use by the Academia. A fee is charged for business and other kinds of users of the tool. It is designed to help identify the learning preferences of an individual. There are other similar online tools that can be used for the identification of an individual’s learning style or learning preferences.

The Counterview

 

A popular counterview to the idea of learning styles states that adopting teaching strategies in accordance with learning styles yields no distinct benefits in terms of learning outcomes.

The reader is suggested to watch the following video resource on YouTube to get an idea of the counterview to the concept of learning styles.

The importance of critical self-reflection | Tesia Marshik | TEDxUWLaCrosse

To read other interesting posts relating to technology, education, and research, visit our blog page.

 

In addition to the sources cited above, the following resources on the web have also been referred to for the development of the above article:

  1. Your Guide To Understanding And Adapting To Different Learning Styles on the Cornerstone University, Michigan University website.
  2. The VARK guide to Learning Preferences at http://vark-learn.com/

Image/ Photo Credits: Feature Image by Pixabay at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Bulb by Pixabay at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Eyes by Pixabay at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Ears by Tim Savage at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Hands by Juan Pablo Arenas  at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Read-Write by Todoran Bogdan at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Puzzle by Pixabay at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Discussion rawpixel.com at pexels.com under Creative Commons, Solitary by Pixabay at pexels.com under Creative Commons

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