Learning Styles & Academic Theory (Learning Styles don't Exist)


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This is a lecture I gave on Learning Styles and other Academic Theory for our Business School Students. It contains videos which probably won't work on this format but I've included the links. Most of the 'content' is in the notes section on each slide - I spoke it. Students were given a Twitter #tag to use during the lecture to reply to the questions posed and these where displayed on a twitter wall. There were also links to Excel files containing questionnaires that the students were encouraged to try after the session.

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  • Image by Martin Gommel via flickr
  • The main focus of this lecture is on Learning Styles – but do we know what these are?
  • This is the theory – but is it true, and what is a learning style anyway?Image by Andrew Mason via flickr
  • I hope this makes the point – we are just going to look at the two most common ones to begin with.... Dunn & Dunn and Honey & Mumford.
  • The Dunn and Dunn learning style model is one which assumes that learning preferences are innate. You are what you are and your learning style will not change. It is based on sensory input – how you prefer your information to be given to you. It is also about how the learning is stored; in your visual, auditory or kinaesthetic memory.It is sometimes referred to as VARK rather than just VAK (the extra R standing for Reading/Writing)It is sometimes referred to as VAKT rather than just VAK (the extra T standing for Tactile).Eye image by AndiH via FlickrEar image by Sean Garrett via FlickrJump image by lisadragon via FlickrReading image by tonyhall via Flickr
  • The Honey and Mumford learning style is about how you prefer to approach a task, it assumes this learning style is flexibly stable.The video here is designed for managers but it explains the model better than any other I have found – just substitute the word student for manager when you are listening!Link to video if problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cf-1zx58CU
  • The problem is ... a lot of people do not think they exist as this video explains.Link to video if problems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk
  • The Coffield report (2004) examined just about all learning style models and the 13 most used were looked at in considerable detail. Some it recommended had such serious weaknesses that they should definitely no longer be used – including the Dunn and Dunn VAK and Honey and Mumford models we have looked at so far. On the other hand, some approaches were appraised as promising and potentially useful. We will look at the two most useful for a higher education context:
  • Entwistle’s ASSIST is useful for discussing effective and ineffective strategies for learning and for diagnosing your existing approaches, orientations and strategies. It categorises learning as follows:Deep – intention to understand, relating ideas, using evidence and active learningSurface – intention to reproduce, unrelated memorising, passive learning, fearof failureStrategic – study organisation, time management, alertness to assessment demands, intention to excelApathetic – lack of direction, lack of interest
  • Vermunt’s ILS can be used to assess approaches to learning and discuss how learning and teaching has changedProcessing strategies: includes an awareness of the aims and objectivesRegulation strategies: serve to monitor learningMental models of learning: the learners perception of the learning processLearning orientations: personal aims, intentions and expectations (based on past experience of learning)
  • Vermunt’s ILS can be used to assess approaches to learning and discuss how learning and teaching has changed. Undirected – difficulty in assimilating information, coping with volume of material and prioritisingReproduction directed – little or no effort to understand, information is reproduced with minimal effortApplication directed – learning to achieve a particular task, applying it to concrete situationsMeaning directed – attempts to gain a deeper understanding of material and draw on existing and related knowledge.Clearly, tutors would like all their students to be meaning directed, this is the academic pinnacle – but the only one of these learning styles with a clear impact on academic achievement is undirected – which has a clear negative correlation. Reproduction directed learners can be high achievers academically if the assessment methods favour such reproduction – although most institutions are aiming for more than this and students with a reproductive style are less likely to be high achievers after leaving traditional education. Application directed learners can be highly motivated and so achieve well academically and beyond. It is clearly the undirected learners that need to be helped the most to achieve some direction! I have found it hard to find a copy of a suitable questionnaire for you to test which style you are – but will put one on eBridge if I manage.
  • Link to video if problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf6lqfNTmaM
  • The theory is an account of human cognition in its fullness.This is not rocket science – we all know that different people seem to have natural aptitudes for different tasks – but it IS never-the-less true that most schools and universities reward the first two shown here – linguistic and logical mathematical more than others. The next 3 – musical, bodily kinaesthetic and spatial visual are associated primarily with the arts and the last two – the personal intelligences are ignored almost completely by traditional education.In Gardner’s theory, people have a unique blend of intelligences which they should be aware of and such an awareness will help them focus on and succeed in life. Critics of Gardner question whether all these should be called ‘intelligences’. Michael Jackson was a musical genius and Usain Bolt is an incredibly accomplished athlete but critics argue that this does not mean they are intelligent. Gardner of course argues that these are just different types of intelligence than the traditional view. Others say that Gardner’s theory means some students stop trying with traditional intelligent pursuits and just say things like “I am just intelligent in other ways” or that if they are well rounded in all the intelligences but excel in none they are equally as intelligent as someone who excels in one or two. Who is to say which is true – these are theories after all.Image by illuminaut via flickr
  • The ability to make healthy adaptive choices based on being able to identify, understand and manage our own emotions and those of othersMain academic Goleman model:Self-awareness – the ability to read one's emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.Self-management – involves controlling one's emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.Social awareness – the ability to sense, understand, and react to others' emotions while comprehending social networks.Relationship managment - the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.Bar-On model:Emotional-social intelligence as a cross-section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that impact intelligent behaviour.References: Goleman, Daniel (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence (in BJL); Bar-On, R. (2006), The Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence (ESI). Psicothema, 18 , supl., 13-25. (Available at http://www.psicothema.com/pdf/3271.pdf).models come from Daniel Goleman and Reuvan Bar-On
  • The main proponents of the Constructivist theory are Piaget and Vygotsky. The don’t agree on everything but they do agree that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. The idea is that when we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know. In education, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. (Education Broadcasting Company found at http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html)There are not too many critics of Constructivism – the only real one is that it takes more time to “construct” knowledge than it does to “transfer” knowledge so some see the teaching methods as wasteful.Reference for Constructivism: Wadsworth, Barry J. (1996). Piaget's theory of cognitive and affective development: Foundations of constructivism (5th ed.).White Plains, NY, England: Longman Publishing. xi 195 pp. In the BJLPapert, S. (1999) Papert on Piaget. Time Magazine’s special issue on the Century’s Greatest Minds p105 available at http://www.papert.org/articles/Papertonpiaget.htmlWertsch, J V (1985) Vygotsky and the social formation of the mind. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass.
  • We have covered reflection quite extensively in the workshops and you should have built up a reasonable resource list when you collaborated using Googledocs during your workshop session.Good Resource in the Library:Boud, D., Keogh, R. & Walker, D. (eds) 1985, Reflection : turning experience into learning, Kogan Page, London
  • This is another academic theory but it is not one that is criticised – no matter what you think about the academic theories we have been looking at, evidence shows that the very point that you are thinking about it at all will make you a better learner.Even if you are using flawed models, the very act of considering that model means you become a better learner. In schools this technique is thought to improve achievement by 20% - like having a whole extra day a week.Taylor, S. 1999, "Better learning through better thinking: developing students metacognitive abilities", Journal of College Reading and Learning, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 34-45.
  • Learning Styles & Academic Theory (Learning Styles don't Exist)

    1. 1. By Jacqui Bartram
    2. 2. How much do you thinkabout HOW you learn?
    3. 3. What areLearningStyles?
    4. 4. The Theory:Everybody has a preferredstyle of learningKnowing and understandingyour learning style can helpyou learn more effectively
    5. 5. There are TOO MANY learning stylesmodels to coverDunn and Dunn (VAK)JacksonAllinson and HayesHoney and MumfordEntwistleWhetton and CameronKoganHarrison-BransonConti and Kolody McKenney and KeenMarton and SäljöWeinstein et alGuilfordMillerBartlettGordonBrovermanRichardsonMessickWitkinFelder and SilvermanRichardson
    6. 6. Reading/writingVisualAKuditoryinaestheticTactileVAK based learningstyles are aboutsensory inputand types ofmemoryExcel
    7. 7. Honey and Mumford’s Learning style isabout approaches to learningLink to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cf-1zx58CU
    8. 8. There is only one problem...Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk
    9. 9. Do YOU think Learning Stylesexist or not?
    10. 10. Not all Learning Styles are soeasily killed offEntwistle’s Approaches to Study SkillsInventory (ASSIST)Vermunt’s Inventory ofLearning Styles (ILS)
    11. 11. Entwistle’s model focuses on level ofengagement or depth of processingApatheticDeep SurfaceStrategic
    12. 12. Vermunt’s ILS looks at a student’sinformation processing styleProcessingstrategiesRegulationstrategiesMental modelsof learningLearningorientations
    13. 13. From this, Vermunt describes4 types of learning styleUndirectedReproduction directedApplication directedMeaning directed
    14. 14. What is YOUR motivation forlearning?
    15. 15. OtherAcademicTheory
    16. 16. Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligencesinfluences many learning styles modelsLink to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf6lqfNTmaM
    17. 17. Bodily-kinaestheticRecap of the multiple intelligences:Excel
    18. 18. Other theorists took theidea of Interpersonal andIntrapersonal intelligenceand called it emotionalintelligence
    19. 19. Goleman’s modelSelf-awareness(recognise own emotionsand act accordingly)Social awareness(empathy, understandingof social networks)Relationship management(ability to influence othersand manage conflict)Self-management(ability to inspire, influenceothers and manage conflict)
    20. 20. Constructivism is alearning theory which statesthat people construct their ownknowledge
    21. 21. Reflection is the ability to lookback and analyse your experiencesand realise what lessonscan be learnedfor the future
    22. 22. Do you think thatlearning about learninghelps you become aBETTER learner?
    23. 23. Metacognition(thinking about thinking)If you are thinking about any ofthis academic theory then youare using