What’s Your Learning Style?
By Marcia Conner
Learning styles classify different ways people learn and how they approach information.
Learning style refers to the ways you prefer to approach new information. Each of us learns and processes information in our own special style, although we share some learning patterns, preferences, and approaches. Knowing your own style also can help you to realize that other people may approach the same situation in a different way from your own.
The learning styles assessments I find most helpful examine how you take in information through your senses. Researchers call these sorts of assessments “perceptual modality assessments.” They look at how you see, hear, feel, and move through the world. Those perceptions deeply affect your ability to learn. Whether you tend to rely more or less on one sense than another has a tremendous influence on how you interpret new experiences and succeed in whatever you work with each day. Take a perceptual modality assessment now.
Howard Gardner asserts there are at least seven modalities (referred to as intelligences) that can be used to describe your individual style. His work encourages everyone to think about learning in new and creative ways.
This work suggests people can be:
- Verbal-linguistic: sensitive to the meaning and order of words
- Musical: sensitive to pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone
- Logical-mathematical: Able to handle chains of reasoning and recognize patterns and order
- Spatial: perceive the world accurately and try to re-create or transform aspects of that world
- Bodily-kinesthetic: able to use the body skillfully and handle objects adroitly
- Interpersonal: understand people and relationships
- Intrapersonal: possess access to one’s emotional life as a means to understand oneself and others.
According to Anthony Gregorc, there are four basic learning styles. Gregorc’s Mind Styles model categorizes learners as Concrete Sequential (CS), Abstract Sequential (AS) Abstract Random (AR) and Concrete Random (CR).
- Concrete Sequential (CS) learners are hardworking, conventional, accurate, stable, dependable, consistent, factual, and organized.
- Abstract Sequential (AS) learners are analytic, objective, knowledgeable, thorough, structured, logical, deliberate, and systematic.
- Abstract Random (AR) learners are sensitive, compassionate, perceptive, imaginative, idealistic, sentimental, spontaneous, and flexible.
- Concrete Random (CR) learners are quick, intuitive, curious, realistic, creative, innovative, instinctive, adventurous.
Learning Styles Indicator
David Kolb’s Learning Style Model classifies learners as having a preference for 1)concrete experience or abstract conceptualization (how they take information in), and 2) active experimentation or reflective observation (how they internalize information).
- Type 1 (concrete, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is “Why?” Type 1 learners respond well to explanations of how course material relates to their experience, their interests, and their future careers. To be effective with Type 1 students, the instructor should function as a motivator.
- Type 2 (abstract, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is “What?” Type 2 learners respond to information presented in an organized, logical fashion and benefit if they have time for reflection. To be effective, the instructor should function as an expert.
- Type 3 (abstract, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is “How?” Type 3 learners respond to having opportunities to work actively on well-defined tasks and to learn by trial-and-error in an environment that allows them to fail safely. To be effective, the instructor should function as a coach, providing guided practice and feedback.
- Type 4 (concrete, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is “What if?” Type 4 learners like applying course material in new situations to solve real problems. To be effective, the instructor should stay out of the way, maximizing opportunities for the students to discover things for themselves.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, based on the work of Carl Jung identifies 16 personality styles based on:
How you relate to the world (Extravert or Introvert)
Extraverts try things out, focus on the world around
Introverts think things through, focus on the inner world of ideas
How you take in information (Sensing or iNtuiting)
Sensors (practical, detail-oriented, focus on facts and procedures)
Intuitors (imaginative, concept-oriented, focus on meanings and possibilities)
How you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)
Thinkers are skeptical, tend to make decisions based on logic and rules
Feelers are appreciative, tend to make decisions based on personal and humanistic considerations
How you manage your life (Judging or Perceiving).
Judgers set and follow agendas, seek closure even with incomplete data
Perceivers adapt to changing circumstances, resist closure to obtain more data.
For example, one learner may be an ESTJ (extravert, sensor, thinker, perceiver) and another may be an INFJ (introvert, intuitor, feeler, judger).
There are other ways to organize learning style models. These fall into general categories such as information processing, personality patterns, and social interaction.
Information processing distinguishes between the way you sense, think, solve problems, and remember information. You have a preferred, consistent, distinct way of perceiving, organizing, and retaining information. Kolb’s Learning Styles inventory, Gregorc’s Mind Styles Model, and Keefe’s Human Information Processing Model.
Personality patterns focus on attention, emotion, and values. Understanding these differences allows you to predict the way you’ll react and feel about different situations. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter are two of the most well-know personality pattern assessments. A lesser known assessment is Dellinger’s Psycho-Geometrics.
Social interaction looks at likely attitudes, habits, and strategies learners will take toward their work and how they engage with their peers when they learn. Some learners are independent, dependent, collaborative, competitive, participant, and avoidant. Reichmann and Grasha as well as Baxter Magolda have developed assessments.
- The Left Side of the Brain Vs. the Right Side (psych.answers.com)