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ORGL 3113 FACE TO FACE

Chapter 3
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Chapter 3

How We Learn

 

Experts agree that there is no one best way to learn.  People learn differently.  This hardly a novel idea, but in order for you to do well in college it is important that you become aware of your preferred “learning style”.

 

LEARNING ABOUT LEARNING STYLES

 

There are many ways of thinking about and describing learning styles.  Of the dozens of learning styles models, we will review five of the best know and most relevant to your learning.  They are:

 

        Field Dependence/Independence

        Kolb Inventory of Learning Styles

        Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

        Multiple Intelligence

        VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic)

 

Some of them overlap between the different models, but using several of them may help you do a more precise job of discovering your learning style.

 

Field Dependence / Independence

 

One of the simplest learning style models is called Field Dependence/Independence.   This is a concept that defines whether and to what degree learners are influenced by the surrounding environment and relationships within the classroom setting.

 

Field-independent learners tend to be highly autonomous.   Require little interaction with instructors or other students and tend to favor areas of study that call for analytic skills, such mathematics, engineering, and science. 

 

Field-dependent students learn more effectively in a classroom where there is frequent interaction with others; tend to choose majors such as clinical psychology, humanities, counseling, and teaching.

 

WHICH OF THESE STYLES WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AS YOUR PREFERRED LEARNING STYLE?

KOLB INVENTORY OF LEARNING STYLES

 

A more complex learning model that is widely used and referenced by researchers and educators is the Kolb Inventory of Learning Styles, developed in the 1980s by David Kolb.  This inventory is based on a four-stage cycle of learning (see Figure 3.1 in text).

 

According to Kolb, effective learners need four different kinds of abilities:

 

        Concrete experience abilities (allows them to involve themselves fully in new experiences)

 

        Reflective Observation abilities (allows you to reflect on your experiences from many perspectives)

 

        Abstract Conceptualization abilities (enables you to integrate observations into logically sound theories)

 

        Active experimentation abilities (enables you to make decisions, solve problems, and test what you have learned in new situations).

 

 

 

 

Kolb further divides learner into four discrete groups:

 

 

        Divergers (you are good at reflecting on situations from many viewpoints.  You excel at brainstorming)

 

        Assimilators (you like to think about abstract concepts.  You are comfortable where the instructor lectures theoretical without relating the lecture to any real world, practical situations).

 

 

        Convergers (you like the world of ideas and theories, but you also are good at thinking about how to apply those theories to real world, practical situation).

 

        Accomodators (you prefer hands-on learning.  You are good at making things happen, you rely on your intuition).

 

Doing well in college will require that you adopt some behavior characteristic of at least one of these four learning styles.

 

 

MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR

 

A best known most widely used personality inventories that can also be used to describe learning styles is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. 

 

When you complete the MBTI survey, your score is your “psychological type” which reflects your preference on four different scales.

 

The Scales are:

 

Extraversion (E)  vs  Introversion (I)

           Inner         or         Outer

 

Sensing (S)       vs      Intuition (N)

           Facts         or         Ideas

 

Thinking (T)    vs      Feeling (F)  

           Logic        or        Value

 

Judging (J)       vs      Perceiving (P)

     Organization   or      Adaptability

 

 

MULTIPLE  INTELLIGENCE

 

Another way of measuring how we learn is the theory of multiple intelligence, developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University.

 

Gardner’s theory is based on the premise that the traditional notion of human intelligence is very limited.  He proposes a more complex theory with eight different intelligences to describe how humans learn.

 

As you might expect, Gardner work is very controversial as it calls into question our historic definitions of intelligence.

 

To test his multiple intelligence theory, a short inventory of all eight categories is listed in your text.  You may want to go back and review these eight types of intelligence to see if any apply to your style of learning (Chapter 3, pages 52-53).

VARK LEARNING STYLES INVENTORY

 

The VARK is different from the four previously described learning styles theories because it relies less on basic personality or intelligence and more on how learners prefer to use their senses to learn.

 

The acronym VARK stands for “Visual”, “Aural”, “Read/Write”, and “Kinesthetic”.

 

Visual learners prefer to learn information from charts, graphs, symbols, and other visual means.

 

Aural learners prefer to hear instruction.

 

Read/Write learners prefer to learn information that is displayed as words.

 

Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn through experience and practice, whether simulated or real   (Hand on learning)

 

To determine your learning style according to the VARK inventory, complete the VARK Questionnaire in your text and score it. (Chapter 3, pages 54-55).

 

 

WHEN LEARNING STYLES AND TEACHING STYLES ARE IN

CONFLICT

 

 

Research indicates that instructors tend to teach in ways that conform to their own particular learning style.

 

IF YOUR LEARNING STYLE CONFLICTS WITH INSTRUCTORS TEACHING STYLE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

 

The text suggests that you not depend on the instructor or classroom environment to give you everything you need to maximize your learning. Employ your own unique style, talents, and abilities in developing ways to study and retain information. 

 

WHAT IS A LEARNING DISABILITY (LD)

 

LD is a learning disorder that affects people’s ability either to interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain.

 

LD is a broad term that covers a pool of possible causes, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes.  Because of this it is difficult ot diagnose or to pinpoint the causes.

 

The types of LD that most commonly affect college students are academic skills disorders, including developmental reading, writing, and mathematic disorders.

 

Dyslexia:    A developmental reading disorder that is quite widespread. People with dyslexia have difficulty with the sounds of spoken words and may have trouble seeing the correct arrangement of letters in a given word..  Many times they transpose or reverse letters in a written word.

 

Another common type of learning disability is an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Some students who have attention disorders appear to daydream excessively.  Once you get their attention, they may be easily distracted.

 

Some signs that may help you determine whether you or someone you know has a learning disability are:

 

        Do you perform poorly on tests even when you feel you have studies and are capable of performing better?

 

        Do you have trouble spelling words?

 

        Do you work harder than your fellow classmates at basic reading and writing?

 

         Do you have a really short attention span, or do your parents or instructor say that you do things “without thinking”?

 

Even though you might have responded “yes” to any of the above questions, this does not mean that you have a learning disability.

 

If you are concern you should check with your campus learning center, “special needs”, or student disabilities office to help you respond to any problem you might have.

 

Anyone diagnosed with a learning disability should not feel ashamed for you are in very good company.  Magic Johnson, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, Cher, and Danny Glover are just a few or the famous and successful people who have diagnosed learning disabilities.

 

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