AEB1101 Essay: How I Learn Best


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AEB1101 Essay: How I Learn Best

  1. 1. Page 1 of 5 AEB1101. Learning in a Changing World Assessment 2: Essay, “How Do I Learn Best?” Student Name: K. Joseph Buckley Student #: 3880875 Tutor: Coral Cara Tutorial: Monday 1:00 PM, Room 502AThe analysis of how an individual learns best is a vast endeavour. It can be expounded upon atlength and, therefore, it seems prudent to limit the scope of the inquiry to a manageable andlogical subset of the total possible field of discussion. In this essay, I will examine my preferredlearning styles and how they have affected me and my learning in the past and speculate onhow they will affect my future learning and my effectiveness as a future teacher.There are a huge array of theories of learning styles and a myriad of tests to determine wherea particular individual fits into each of those learning styles. However, no student is a tabularasa and each taker of a learning style test already has ideas about who they are and how theylearn best. Before I had taken any such tests, I knew that I was introverted and extremelyshy*. This led me to favour learning activities that did not require interaction with others – atleast, with others I did not know well – such as quiet reading and private contemplation.In slight contrast to this was a process that I first discovered (or had been led to discover) inPrimary School, but which has become extremely important to me. I had always been a strongmathematics student and, in Grade Six, my teacher, Ms U-, asked me to help another boystruggling with maths. The process of teaching him caused me to learn the subject mattermore thoroughly than I had known it before. Throughout the subsequent years of my formaleducation, I was known among my friends and classmates as being good at maths and, hence,was a frequent target of questions when the teacher was too busy (or too intimidating). Thisproduced a virtuous circle where my presumed competence contributed to my actualcompetence, which, in turn, contributed to the perception of my competence. This is one of themost powerful learning techniques I have at my disposal. Even today, when I want to learnsomething, I consider how I would explain it to another person, although in the vast majorityof cases, not actually involving another individual in the process. Perhaps, my introversion hasled me to dispose of the other person in this process and to substitute a hypothetical being inits place; thus, allowing to preserve both of these deeply-ingrained character learning traits.I call those personality traits “deeply-ingrained” not just because I feel its truth anecdotally,but because they were confirmed in tests that I have taken. One of the first personality tests Ihad ever taken was the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS-II) 1. In it, I was classified as aHealer (INFP). Although the KTS-II is a general personality test, its result influences, not only,my learning style, but also the kind of teacher I will become. As Hagger and McIntyre (2006)have said: Most teachers find that their individual humanity and the totality of their human experience are essential resources on which they draw as classroom teachers. 2According to one source, in the workplace: Because of their deep-seated reserve … [Healers] can work quite happily alone. 3* [Eighteen months working as a Teachers Aide has somewhat changed this aspect of mypersonality, but I still remain more introverted than extroverted.]1 Hagger, H, and McIntyre, D, Learning teaching from teachers: Realizing the potential of school-based teacher education, p. 553
  2. 2. Page 2 of 5Another source, states that: INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what theyre feeling on paper.4This, I feel, is an accurate representation of me. As a Pre-Service teacher, I understand theextreme importance that verbal communication plays, not only in the classroom, but, also inthe interactions that I may have with other stakeholders in my teaching, eg, principals, otherteachers, parents, etc. However, I still feel more comfortable expressing myself in writing thanI do in speaking. This, I think, stems partly from my introversion and shyness as well as mylove of reading.Healers are also “adaptable [and] welcome to new ideas 5”. This characterisation fits Kolbsdefinition of one of his four necessary abilities for effective learners, viz, Reflective ObservationAbilities (RO). He writes that effective learners “must be able to reflect on and observe theirexperiences from many perspectives6”.At this juncture, however, we run into a snag because I believe that although I scored morehighly in “Feeling” than “Thinking” on the Keirsey Scale, I favour the “AbstractConceptualization” (or Thinking) part of the learning process more than I do the “ConcreteExperience” (or Feeling) part. Part of this disparity is due to nomenclature: “ConcreteExperience” and “Feeling” are not always synonymous, and one can use the terms to signifycompletely different concepts, even though David Kolb chose to equate them. But anothercomponent in this discrepancy is that human beings are complex creatures and no onetheoretical model can encapsulate that idiosyncrasies of any one individual. [This is anextremely important concept for (pre-service) teachers to learn because of the dangers ofclassifying students into different groups and then trying to teach them based on thecharacteristics of the group.]According to Kolb, my preference for Abstract Conceptualisation and Reflective Observationmake me an Assimilator7. Assimilators “respond to information presented in an organized,logical fashion and benefit if they are given time for reflection8”. They also, in formaleducational settings, “prefer readings, lectures, [and] exploring analytical models 9”. I havealready addressed the importance of personal reflection in my learning style. The desire forassimilators to have information arranged into a structured system and to have thatinformation presented in lectures, readings and analytical models is encapsulated in anothertheory of learning styles – the Left Brain-Right Brain dichotomy.According to the Right Brain – Left Brain Inventory10, I am a Left Brain Thinker. A Left-Brainthinker “processes information in a linear manner11” and “in sequence – in order 12”. They also“have little trouble expressing themselves in words 13” and because they “[have] no troubleprocessing symbols … [T]he left-brained person tends to be comfortable with linguistic andmathematical endeavors14 [sic].” These are all characteristics that are applicable to me.Although they fall under the Left-Brain umbrella in this system of learning, it is possible to deal4 Kolb, D. Experiential learning. Experience as the source of learning and development, p. 617 Felder, R, & Brent, R, Understanding Student Differences, p. 609 Ibid.13 Ibid.14 Ibid.
  3. 3. Page 3 of 5with them on an individual basis. This is what Howard Gardner did.According to Gardners Multiple Intelligences theory, I most closely fit into the Linguistic,Logical/Mathematical, Spatial, and Intra-personal Intelligences 15. Linguistic Intelligence is “theability to use words and language in many different forms16” and Logical/MathematicalIntelligence is “the ability to discern patterns and approach situations logically 17” - both ofwhich I have discussed elsewhere under different learning theories.Spatial Intelligence involves “having the ability to form a mental model and to be able tomanoeuvre and operate using that model 18.” I was surprised when I scored highly in thisIntelligence because I never considered myself “artistic” (at least insofar as the visual arts areconcerned); but another name for this form of Intelligence could be “Conceptual”, which Ibelieve I am. I am capable of, and even enjoy, dealing with abstract concepts and ideas.Intra-personal Intelligence is “being sensitive to ones inner feelings, knowing ones ownstrengths and weaknesses19”. I have always felt myself to be introspective, and, sometimeseven self-conscious (which is just an overly critical form of introspection); but, ironicallyenough, I had never seriously considered how this impacted my learning, in particular, or mypersonality, in general.The English poet and painter, William Blake, once wrote, “I must Create a System, or beenslavd by another Mans 20”. The purpose of analysing ones learning styles, as an adultlearner, is to determine how one can best learn the material in question, drawing uponpersonal preferences, personal history, and individual character traits. If one does not do this,one is at the mercy of the learning style that ones instructor or peers prefer, which could be atodds with ones own. However, as a Pre-Service Teacher, this exercise is also importantbecause it forces one to consider the other learning styles that exist and allows one to modifyones teaching to include other styles of learner. It allows, in other words, for us to avoid being“enslavd” by anothers learning style, while at the same time avoiding enslaving others withours.15 Hoerr, T, The Multiple Intelligences: Implementing MI into the Classroom, p. 1117 Ibid.18 Ibid.19 Ibid.20 Blake, W. (1804), Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Great Albion, Plate 10.
  4. 4. Page 4 of 5 BIBLIOGRAPHYBlake, W 1804.Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Great AlbionAccessed from <> on April 1st, 2011BSM Consulting 2010Portrait of an INFP – Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving (Introverted Feeling withExtraverted Intuition): The Idealist<>Accessed: March 31st, 2011Chapman, A. 2010Kolb Learning Styles< >Accessed: April 1st, 2011Felder, R & Brent, R 2005“Understanding Student Differences”,Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), pp. 57 – 72Hagger, H., and McIntyre, D. 2006.Learning teaching from teachers: Realizing the potential of school-based teacher educationMaidenhead: Open University PressHoerr, T 1996“Implementing MI into the Classroom”, in Hoerr, T (Ed.), Multiple Intelligences: Teaching forSuccess.St Louis, Missouri. The New York City School, Inc.Hopper, C 2011.Left vs Right. Which side are you on?< >Accessed: March 31st, 2011The Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS-II)<>Accessed: March 4, 2011 TM-------------- Idealist Portrait of the Healer (INFP)<>Accessed: March 31st, 2011
  5. 5. Page 5 of 5Kolb, D 1984.Experiential learning. Experience as the source of learning and developmentEnglewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice HallMcKenzie, W 1999.Multiple Intelligences Survey<>Accessed: March 22nd, 2011Nipissing University 2007Right Brain – Left Brain Inventory<>Accessed: March 22nd, 2011