When I was in trade school a few years ago, all of us student were brought through a three-day class session on learning styles. The thinking being, that if you understood your own learning style, then you could maximize your strengths and preferences for better study techniques, notetaking, and, ultimately, better learning. We each took a survey, the results of which showed what type of learner you were. I came out as a VKA (Visual, Kinesthetic, Auditory). This means that I learn best through my visual channel, next kinesthetic, with audio being my weakest channel.
Last year, we did a similar exercise at the school -- although this time, I was a teacher taking the test. We used a different approach: The Playground Theory of Learning developed by Shelly Loewen. Loewen's TIPP system is for "helping learners maximize their learning efforts and helping instructors address the learning differences of individuals and groups with ease." See my earlier posting for more on that experience: TIPP . Loewen's system classifies learners into Traditional, Playful, Personal, and Ideational with a visual, audiotory or kinesthetic preference. This time, I scored stronger on auditory than visual. Imagine my confusion.
I've been looking into the learning styles theory a bit the last few days, after having a humble learning moment.
I found some great articles/old posts on learning styles, thanks to Cathy Moore who pointed me to her reading list. Thanks, Cathy -- great stuff!
1) Learning Styles, ha, ha, ha
Jay Cross December 2005
The comment thread is really great.
2) Brian Alger -- Experience Designers Network
Learning Styles: Whose Styles Are These And Why Should They Matter To Me?
Theories do not help us to expand our awareness and understanding of learning; they serve to reduce and confine it.
3) Brian Alger -- Experience Designers Network
Learning Styles: Whose styles are these and what are they for?
The idea of learning styles commonly refers to some notion for a preferred way of learning. It implies that each of us has a natural inclination toward learning of some kind, and that if that natural inclination can be identified then teaching experiencesBrian makes this important distinction:
can be provided that facilitate our learning. Obviously, there is diversity in learning. However, to identify a generic set of abstract categories, label people according to these categories, and then provide experiences designed to help people in that category learn contains a variety of assumptions that need to be examined more closely...
Perhaps part of the solution is to separate, to some degree, the idea of being educated from the idea of learning. We might then explore the notion of "educating" styles - which seems like a term more appropriate to what is being described as learning styles. This would help to unhinge the assumptions that learning and education are intimately connected.
4) Jean Marrapodi just pointed me to Bernice McCarthy's 4MAT approach. Her slide "People Learn Differently" looks very similar to Loewen's Playground Theory.