Learning Styles: How we engage with the world

If you have been following this blog, just a few months ago, we wrote about common learning styles and what effect they have on learners and teaching methods and practices, and that to a large extent these are not well-evidenced in either science or practice, but for some reason have a wide acceptance.

Today, we are tackling a different take on learning styles – rather learning preferences in ways we interact with the world along the continuum of how we do things (processing) and how we perceive things (think or feel, the perception continuum) as developed by Kolb and further modified by others.

I started doing research on reflective practice – one of many topics I am interested in! – and it eventually led me (should I say took me all the way back) to this source, which I found quite tangible. Reflective practice is an important process (practice) in professional and personal growth which starts with describing and identifying the problem, naming feelings associated with this, thinking through why a particular event took place, and finally developing a plan for dealing with a similar situation in the future or preventing it from happening in the first place, in a nutshell.

Then I ended up with Kolb’s learning styles (or preferences if you wish) and the continuums and the learning cycle, which all theorize learning in attempt to explain and leverage the process.

How is this relevant?

I believe that course design benefits from balancing a number of modes of student engagement and flexibility and student choice in the products they are required to submit as evidence of learning and mastery of concepts. Applying both Kolb’s learning styles/preferences and the modified learning cycle to a course, one can evaluate what sort of activities a particular course favors, if any, and if there are adequate (optimal) opportunities for engagement for all types of preferences.

If your course includes group work, are there also opportunities for students to reflect and process readings and thoughts? If your course is mostly based on readings and reflection, are there opportunities for students to take action in the real world and interact with other individuals in some capacity?

What are your thoughts about any learning styles, catering to various learning styles and this particular take on learning styles/preferences?

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