Learning Styles (Teaching and Learning)
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Learning styles are various approaches or ways of learning. They involve educating methods, particular to an individual, that are presumed to allow that individual to learn best. Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information. Based on this concept, the idea of individualized "learning styles" originated in the 1970s, and acquired "enormous popularity".
According to Gardner (1991), "Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means."
Kolb and Fleming's Learning Models
David Kolb's model
The David A. Kolb styles model is based on the Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (1984). The ELT model outlines two related approaches toward grasping experience: Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization, as well as two related approaches toward transforming experience: Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. In order for learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated. As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach. The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. These learning styles are as follows:
Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problems.
Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives.
Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning.
Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.
Kolb’s model gave rise to the Learning Style Inventory, an assessment method used to determine an individual's learning style. An individual may exhibit a preference for one of the four styles – Accommodating, Converging, Diverging and Assimilating – depending on their approach to learning via the experiential learning theory model.
Fleming's VAK/VARK model
One of the most common and widely-used categorizations of the various types of learning styles is Fleming's VARK model (sometimes VAK):
- visual learners;
- auditory learners;
- kinesthetic learners or tactile learners
Fleming claimed that visual learners have a preference for seeing. Auditory learners best learn through listening. Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn via experience—moving, touching, and doing. Its use in pedagogy allows teachers to prepare classes that address each of these areas. Students can also use the model to identify their preferred learning style and maximize their educational experience by focusing on what benefits them the most.
Learning Styles VS. Multiple Intelligences
Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences are not the same. In fact, Gardner himself emphasizes this fact. 
According to Barbra Prashnig, "Learning Styles (LS) can be defined as the way human beings prefer to concentrate on, store and remember new and/or difficult information" while multiple Intelligences is a theoretical framework for defining, understanding, assessing and developing people's different intelligence factors.
Many scholars, however, have linked and integrated the theory of multiple intelligences and learning style models.
Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
- Visual-Spatial - think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
- Bodily-kinesthetic - use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
- Musical - show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
- Interpersonal - understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
- Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
- Linguistic - using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
- Logical -Mathematical - reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
|Link to Complete Bibliography|
|For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.
Having problems? Visit the RefWorks information guide.
- Alice Y. Kolb, & David A. Kolb. (2010). Learning to play, playing to learn. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23(1), 26-50. Permalink
- Ambrose, S. A. (2010). How learning works : Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Bransford, J., & ebrary, I. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
- Gardner, H., & Education Research Complete. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York: BasicBooks. Permalink
- Heffler, B. (2001). Individual learning style and the learning style inventory. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 27(3), 307-316.
- Joy, S., & Kolb, D. A. (2008). Are there cultural differences in learning style? INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS, 33(1), 69-85.
- Kolb, D. A., & Kolb, A. Y. (2009). The learning way: Meta-cognitive aspects of experiential learning. Simulation & Gaming, 40(3), 297-327.
- Latham, A. (1997). Responding to cultural learning styles. EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 54(7), 88-89.
- Loo, R. (2004). Kolb's learning styles and learning preferences: Is there a linkage? Educational Psychology, 24(1), 99-108.
- Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105.
- Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Boston: Pearson.
- Sternberg, R. J., & Zhang, L. (2001). Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.
- Watkins, C., & ebrary, I. (2000). Learning about learning: Resources for supporting effective learning. London: Routledge Falmer.
- Howard Gardner, "Multiple intelligences: The First 25 Years"
- Kolb, David (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Smith, M. K. (2001). David A. Kolb on experiential learning. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-explrn.htm
- Leite, Walter L.; Svinicki, Marilla; and Shi, Yuying: Attempted Validation of the Scores of the VARK: Learning Styles Inventory With Multitrait–Multimethod Confirmatory Factor Analysis Models, pg. 2. SAGE Publications, 2009.
- Prashnig, B. (2005) Learning styles VS. multiple intelligences. Teaching Expertise 9
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