Analyze your learning style

Teachers and course designers have the task of meeting the learning styles of students in hopes of creating successful learning environments (Romanelli, Bird, & Ryan, 2009). Some students may understand concepts visually, some kinesthetically, while others have acute auditory skills (Felder, 2010).  Often, teachers suggest that students take personality tests that indicate a type of learning style. While this may help learners as they tackle their studies, it is more likely a type of personality trait (Romanelli, et. al, 2009). 

Studies have been divided on the usefulness of matching learning styles with teaching methodologies. O’Leary and Stewart (2013) found greater success when the teaching methods matched the passive or active learning styles (as described by Kolb) of accounting students. However, another study found no significance when matching teaching styles with students’ learning styles (Dincol, Temel, Oskay, Erdogan, & Yilmaz, 2011). However, underachievers may benefit from the results of determining their learning style or modality (Lister & Ansalone, 2006).

As eLearning becomes global, learning styles that have been identified in the Western culture may not be conclusive in all cultures (Eaves, 2011). Metacognitive learning styles are not the only factors leading to successful educational outcomes, but other influences such as culture and second language will have a bearing (Eaves, 2011). The learning styles of online learners were evaluated in a study, which found that students’ styles correlated with learning materials (DaGhan & Akkoyunlu, 2012). Visual learners preferred visual materials; auditory learners preferred auditory, and kinesthetic learners preferred the kinesthetic materials as determined by the Maggie McVay Lynch Learning Style Inventory (DaGhan, et. al, 2012).

While it may be helpful for students to understand their learning style and use those strengths in their studies, it may not be the key to success in any one course. However, it may help students understand why they do not like a particular teaching style or relate well to a teacher who has the opposite learning style. If students and teachers acknowledge these differences and if teachers try to develop practices that cover a broad spectrum of styles, there may be more successful outcomes. 

When surveying effective teaching methods across the learning styles, I have yet to take a course where the teacher covers all the alternatives – for example, being critical and expressing pleasure to meet the needs of both “feelers” and “thinkers.” (PLSI, 2004). When I took the learning style test offered at Paragon Learning Inventory (PLSI, 2004), I realized it was the Myers-Briggs personality test, which I have taken before. The results were the same, as it informed me of being the INFJ type personality. However, when I took a few more tests, the results varied between INFJ and INTJ. This categorization of my learning style or personality confirmed my dislike of group projects for one, and confirmed other sides of my personality as well. 

However, I tend to believe that a variety of "absorb activities" as explained by Horton (2011) that include visual, tactile, and hearing are helpful for all learning styles. If a course designer or teacher
implements absorb, do and connect activities that address learning theories specific to a group of learners, there should be enough variation to meet the needs of all learning styles (Horton, 2011).

Students will always have to take courses and meet the demands of those courses, whether or not they use materials that coincide with their learning styles. Learning styles may indicate how students approach their studies, and why they respond better to different teaching methods (Wilson, 2012).  This information may be helpful to both students and instructors even though the validity of learning styles is questioned as being more an indicator of personality rather than learning style (Romanelli, et. al, 2009).  Some tests based on Carl Jung and Briggs Myers personality assessments stretch the meanings and results to include information that almost verges on horoscope-like advice, even directing students to appropriate careers
 (Humanmetrics, 2013).

For this activity, students will take the following learning style assessments:

Then read the meaning of the scores:  

Effective teaching across the learning styles: 



DaGhan, G., & Akkoyunlu, B. (2012). An examination through conjoint analysis of the preferences of students concerning online learning environments according to their learning styles. International Education Studies, 5(4), 122-138. doi:10.5539/ies.v5n4p122

Eaves, M. (2011). The relevance of learning styles for international pedagogy in higher education. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 17(6), 677-691. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ949132&site=eds-live; http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13540602.2011.625143

Felder, R. (2010). Learning Styles and Strategies. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm

Horton, W. (2011). E-Learning by Design. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Lister, D., & Ansalone, G. (2006). Utilizing modality theory to achieve academic success. (undetermined). Educational Research Quarterly, 30(2), 19-29. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ofs&AN=507935123&site=eds-live

O'Leary, C., c.oleary@griffith.edu.au, & Stewart, J., j.stewart@griffith.edu.au. (2013). The interaction of learning styles and teaching methodologies in accounting ethical instruction. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(2), 225-241. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1291-9

Paragon Learning Style. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/jshindl/plsi/

Romanelli, F, Bird, E., and Ryan, M. (2009). Learning Styles: A Review of Theory, Application, and Best Practices. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73(1). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690881/

Sinem Dinçol, Temel, S., Özge Ö. Oskay, Ümit I. Erdoğan, & Ayhan Yılmaz.The effect of matching learning styles with teaching styles on success Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.03.198

Wilson, M. (2012). Students' learning style preferences and teachers' instructional strategies: Correlations between matched styles and academic achievement. SRATE Journal, 22(1), 36-44. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ995172&site=eds-live

1 comment:

  1. Excellent analysis!
    One of the obligations of graduate scholars is to challenge taken for granted assumptions. As you have noted learning styles theory is contested. This is the case with all theories and scholars are charged with the testing and verification of theories.

    One of the most common criticisms of learning styles theory is that the theory has not been very well supported by empirical research.

    To understand some of the dimensions of the scholarly debate over the issue of learning styles see:

    Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Eccleston, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning. Learning and Skills Research Center. Retrieved from https://crm.lsnlearning.org.uk/user/order.aspx?code=041543

    Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Roher, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3). Retrieved from http://personal.crocodoc.com/xw1pugQ

    Willingham, D. (2005). Do Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learners Need Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Instruction? Ask the Cognitive Scientist, Summer. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/summer2005/willingham.cfm

    Willingham also has a short YouTube video which presents his position on the matter.
    (Incidentally this is a good model for the scholarly use of web based multimedia.)
    Willingham, D. (2008). YouTube - Learning Styles Don’t Exist. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk&feature=related
    Jay Cross, one of the architects of the learning model used by the University of Phoenix reviewed Coffield et al. (2004) and has this to say about Learning Styles Theory.

    Cross, J. (n.d.). Learning Styles, ha, ha, ha, ha. Time. Retrieved from http://www.internettime.com/2013/04/learning-styles-ha-ha-ha-ha/comment-page-1/#comment-43513


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