Every individual is unique having own preferences on how to learn at specific events. This is recognise in various learning style theories (Kolb and Dunn) and multiple intelligence theory (Gardner). Kolb and Dunn consider cultural, environmental and personal factors as variables affecting individual learning style. They proposed that teaching should fit learning styles. The multiple intelligence theory, on the other hand, claims that humans have 9 innate intelligences and posit that education can be improved by addressing the intelligences.
Research has consistently shown that when anyone is taught according to their individual learning style their academic achievement increases, as does their attitude, self-esteem discipline and outlook towards the future. Knowing this and the fact that each person has different intellectual composition has implications on the teaching and learning practices.
First, there is no “one size fits all” in a learning event. The teacher should be able to discern specific learning preferences of students and assign them to tasks that fit their mode of learning and interest. Applying Kolb’s model, a student who is in accommodating mode (doing and feeling) is good at hands-on work, and should not be expected to come up with ideas and concepts like someone in assimilating mode (watching and thinking).
Second, learning is best conceived as a process – thus both teacher and student should engage in effective feedback. The teacher may provide a “parking space” in the wall of the classroom where students can post their comments, feedback on the lesson for the day. Teacher should give specific feedback to students that will help them identify what to change in their study habits.
Third, students bring with them their strong and weak intelligences (from the 9 identified by Gardner), prior knowledge and social skills which the teacher can tap or strengthen. Students with mathematical-logical intelligence may help in peer to peer teaching, while those with musical intelligence can lead activities to help others develop similar talents.
As a learner myself, the best realisation is from Kolb’s experiential theory- that leaning is a cycle of doing, reflecting, concluding and trying out. I consider myself in the “watching and thinking” style, and I think going through the readings in EDS 103 is not enough. I really need to interact with virtual classmates in the discussion fora. As a future teacher, I need to learn more about social and emotional learning because I am convinced that learning involves the whole person – thinking and feeling.
Dunn and Dunn: School-Based Learning Styles http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/863/884633/Volume_medialib/dunn.pdf
Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D.A. (2005) Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential. Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4: 2, 193-212. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40214287