Learning Style

The Modalities of Learning

Your learning style is your preferred method of learning—your favored medium and method. There is no agreement among experts as to how to classify and categorize styles. We list several of them here.

  • Senses: Many people favor a particular medium when learning. Some learn best by watching, others through listening, and still others through physically doing. These sensory modalities are called visual, auditory, and tactile or kinesthetic.

  • Structure: Within each preferred sense or modality there are further distinctions, in particular with regard to structure. Some students prefer story-driven scenarios, others the challenge of a problem, still others rational pathways. These are known as narrative, problem-solving, and logical learning styles.

  • Social Context: Some students learn better alone; others in small groups; still others in large groups.

  • Blends: Finally, there are the obvious blends of the foregoing learning styles, and often these depend as much upon the subject matter as the personal learning style.

Kolb's Four Learning Styles

An influential study of learning styles was written in 1984 by David Kolb, in which he lays out his own classification of perceptual modalities, information processing styles, and personality patterns. Influenced strongly by the experiential learning theories of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget, Kolb develops the following four styles:

  • Activist Style: prefers hands-on case studies and simulations

  • Reflector Style: prefers lectures and then brainstorming

  • Theorist Style: prefers conceptual readings

  • Pragmatist Style: prefers field work in the workplace

Practical Applications

The challenge with learning styles lies not in their theory, or even in the fact that experts can't agree on classifications, but in their application. Time and money legislate against constructing courses on a multiple "learning style" basis (each version having different sensory pathways). It would be extremely expensive to produce separate video, audiocassette, and story-driven versions of each course.



David Kolb: Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development.

See also Multiple intelligences

The 30-Second Encyclopedia of Learning and Performance. A Trainer's Guide to Theory, Terminology, and Practice
The 30-Second Encyclopedia of Learning and Performance: A Trainers Guide to Theory, Terminology, and Practice
ISBN: 0814471781
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 110
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