Module 6: Learning Styles
Learning style is the way individuals concentrate on, absorb, and retain new or difficult information or skills. It is not the materials, or strategies that people use to learn: those are the resources that complement each person's style. Style comprises a combination of environmental, emotional, sociological, physical, and psychological elements that permit individuals to receive, store and use knowledge or abilities (Exceptional Children, Vol. 49, No. 6, April 1983).
Every student has a unique learning style. According to Jody Whelden, a psychotherapist, counselor and teacher, "Each learning style is like an instrument in an orchestra. Students need to know what instrument is theirs and how they fit into the orchestra."
Each student learns differently, at a different rate, using different learning styles. Everyone has a learning style. Our style of learning, if accommodated, can result in improved attitudes toward learning and an increase in academic achievement. By identifying your learning style, you will identify how you learn best. Learning styles do not reflect levels of achievement or academic ability. No one style is better than the other.
Researchers have done experiments with at least 21 elements of learning style. They have found that most people respond strongly to between six and fourteen elements.
The element chart indicates perceptual strengths as being tactile/kinesthetic, visual, or auditory learners. Perceptual elements are important to identify because they will identify the learner's preferred learning modality. You have probably noticed when you attempt to learn something new, you prefer to learn by listening to someone talk on the subject. Some students prefer to read about the concept; others want to see a demonstration of the concept. Learning style theory suggests students learn in different ways --- ways which may be different from your own preferred learning style.
By becoming familiar with learning style theory, you will be able to recognize your student's style, and you will be able to make suggestions on how he or she can use that strength to help hom or her study. Be sure to look at the suggestions. Look at these sites to learn more about learning styles:
Have you taken even an introductory course in psychology? If you have, then you have probably taken a personality test. There are several personality models of varying usefulness and accuracy. The personality system in the Keirsey Sorter is based on Jung's theory of personality type. It was converted into a practical instrument by Myers and Briggs and is used extensively in education and career counseling. This test attempts to identify a person's personality "type." Personality influences the preferred approaches to acquiring and integrating new information. Take the personality test (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp). The test measures extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perception. There are 16 different personality types. What is your type? Look at this site http://www.personalitypage.com/high-level.html for a more detailed description of your type.
Knowing your learning style preferences and your personality type can help you plan for activities that take advantage of your natural skills and inclinations. It will help you to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and to capitalize on the strengths and to compensate for the weaknesses. It will also help you become a better tutor.