The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
One of the great challenges as an educator as Long, described, “…is to discover the problematic element that will arouse and maintain the interest of adult learners regardless of their global or specific motives for learning” (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p. 28). Within a classroom setting there are a variety of adult learner differences for instance, gender, learning styles, ethnicity, culture, and academic ability (Huitt, 1997, para.). Long also suggests other variables for example, the physiological which incorporates vision, hearing, energy, and health. One or more of these could pose as a distraction for the student. The psychosocial variables consist of cognitive characteristics, personality, experiential, and role characteristics. All of these have implications for understanding the adult student.
As a teacher, harnessing the variabilities that my students display and getting the most for them could include cooperative learning in which adult learners are placed in heterogeneous groups as Johnson & Johnson (2000) reported, “…cooperative learning is instruction that involves students working in teams to accomplish a common goal, under conditions that include the following elements: Positive interdependence, individual accountability, promotive interaction, appropriate use of collaborative skills, and group processing” (Johnson & Johnson, 2000, p. 7 as cited in Felder & Brent, 2007, p. 2). In my opinion it is important to focus on who is being grouped together since the idea is that all students learn. What if groups were based on class, gender or race what would the outcome be? Only a small percentage of students would learn.
An idea for psychosocial variables that may help adult learners is to create an inclusive learning environment that will promote student choices, increase self-esteem, motivation, and student freedom. Hollander & Hunt (1963) commented, “…that an individual’s impressions of a situation, including another person, result from three major elements: the situation, other people, and the perceiver (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p. 32). If an adult learner is uncomfortable and frustrated the psychosocial risk and physiological health issues could increase resulting in the student losing their attention span regarding a subject.
Experiential variables can include participation within a group. According to Long the grouping of adult learners, “In most fortuitously formed groups we should expect to find some individuals with personality and cognitive characteristics that are fine tuned to make the most of the learning opportunity…At the other end of the spectrum, we should also expect to find some adults for whom it will be very difficult to address the content, skill, or task to be learned (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p. 34).
As a teacher I will propel my students forward by utilizing activates and strategies to motivate learning in which diversity and knowing students various variabilities will become my foundation.
The experiential learning theory is a holistic philosophy and a method in which I utilize to develop my skills, knowledge and values from experiences that are outside of any traditional academic settings I place myself in. Grady (2003) discussed Dewey’s theory as it pertained to the contrary of experiential learning, “…traditional education knowledge is something that is predetermined and controlled beyond the influence of the students” (p.2). I am a lifelong learner and according to Dewey’s theory, “… learning from experiential education facilitates the ability to be a life-long learner… he asserts that extracting the full meaning from present experiences
allows students to do the same in future experiences” (Grady, 2003, p. 7). I am an experiential learner as I learn through my experiences. According to Kolb (1984), “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (McLeod, 2013).
My experiential learning incorporates decision making, accountability and gives me the ability to critically reflect on a subject or the world. I consider myself an eternal student who learns something new every day. My knowledge is acquired as Kolb (1984) described, “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience”(Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis, 1999, p. 2). As a student I critically reflect, participate in social intellectual dialogue and apply creative thoughts to my learning. I learn from trial and error, by making mistakes and having successful moments within my life. My ideas are formed and re-formed through my experiences (Kolb, 1984, para. p. 26). As a student I am motivated to learn when I have prior knowledge and experience in a subject.
I can see my experiential learning through models of various theorists beginning with the Lewinian experiential learning process of feedback and goal directed learning based on the here and now experience. In a prior class I interviewed two individuals on the subject of gender bias in language for a research paper. After my concrete experience and note taking on what I observed, I was able to reflect in order to form generalizations resulting in testing my new knowledge in new experiences and situations because of the feedback I received. As Kolb (1984) noted, “…Lewin borrowed the concept of feedback from electrical engineering to describe a social learning and problem-solving process that generates valid information to assess deviations from desired goals” (p. 21).
Furthermore, Dewey’s model of the experiential theory incorporates learning by doing, learning from the real world, and by trial and error all of which helps me to learn. Grady (2003) commented, “…placing students into real life situations allows them to learn from their experiences and gain knowledge that they can apply later in different situations” (p.3). As an experiential learner it “…transforms the impulses, feelings, and desires of concrete experience into a higher-order purposeful action” (Kolb, 1984, p. 22).
Through the Piaget’s model of learning and cognitive development I am able to learn through discovery as I build upon prior knowledge and connect it to new knowledge resulting in understanding and joining to my present experience. I feel that as an experiential learner I have experienced the developmental stages as Kolb (1984) acknowledged, “Development from infancy to adulthood moves from a concrete phenomenal view of the world to an abstract constructionist view, from active egocentric view to a reflective internalized mode of knowing” (p.23). My learning develops through assimilation in which my new experiences are incorporated into existing schemes. There is a balance between assimilation and accommodation. My process of accommodation can be seen in my experience with my four cats. My cat Luna Shadow is the oldest in the house and likes to be picked up and held and rocked like a baby. I know how she likes to be picked without causing a fuss from prior experiences. Whereas, when I went to a friend’s house and tried play and pick up their older cat, she hissed at me. I discovered she did not like to be picked up.
Lastly, Kolb’s experiential learning theory can be seen in my internal reasoning. My learning styles incorporate Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) and Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE) as I am sensitive and I watch and collect data to problem solve. I am effective in brainstorming, have broad cultural interests and I am a hands on learner (McLeod, 2013, para.).
It is crucial to incorporate all three learning styles, cognitive aspects, affective/personality, and physiological/perceptual in teaching. James & Maher noted that physiological/perceptual aspects of learning style include, “…sensory-based perceptual modes of reception that are dependent on the physical environment,” including light and time of day rhythms (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, 123). Student strategies include identifying with the sensory-based perceptual modes (para. 134).
James & Maher commented on cognitive aspects of learning style, “…relate to information-processing habits representing the learner’s typical mode of perceiving, thinking, problem solving, and remembering” (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p123). Learner strategies include writing orderly directions, prioritizing steps to a task or assignment, review notes for missing information, prioritize responses, determine the role within a group, turn assignment into a game, take ten minute break for every thirty minutes worked, underline key words in assignments, and locate the relevance in the assignment. (para. p. 135).
According to James & Maher the affective/personality aspects of learning style are, “…encompass aspects of personality that are related to motivation, emotion, and valuing are the learner’s typical mode of arousing, directing, and sustaining behavior (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p.123). The student strategies include recognizing social learning preferences, don’t take negative feedback personally, identify environments that support more independent learning and determine the level of student preferences (para. 136).
In understanding the aspects of physiological/perceptual learning I will be able to apply this knowledge to learning activities that incorporate a holistic foundation and offer various sensory choices, sensation options, and rely on a perspective of kinesthetic, visual and auditory methods (para. 134). Knowing of cognitive aspects I will be able to apply this knowledge in using hands on assignments, repeat and review detailed directions, give extra time for trial and error process, provide samples of projects, incorporate independent activities, and encourage student-generated assignment ideas. I will be able to apply this new knowledge of affective/personality by providing opportunities for various social learning preferences, incorporate emotional aspects including feedback and recognition (para. 136).
In commenting on the authors contention, a student builds knowledge from prior experience and reflects to make meaning of the new experiences, teachers guide students to the new experiences utilizing their past experiences and learning styles. The implications this has for educators is that a student will learn in their own way and it is the responsibility of the teacher to match their learning style and incorporate it into their teaching style.
Galbraith, M. W. (2004). Adult Learning Methods: A guide for effective instruction. Malabar: Krieger Publishing Company.
Knowledge of self begins with knowing what my own realities are. In my opinion, self-knowledge, knowing myself, knowing my adult learners to be, and knowing my subject that I will be teaching are all intertwined. Knowing myself is the foundation to build upon as my subject carries a passion of mine followed by the understanding of my students. There is a cliché, “You can’t love anyone without first loving yourself.” The sentiment is the same. In knowing myself I am able to reflect and understand my personal beliefs, culture, visions of teaching, values, and to remember as Baptiste (2003) commented, “As teachers, we are not the same persons in every situation” (Galbraith, 2004, p. 10). As an educator I will be in evolving and expanding with new information and knowledge. My values become the basis for who I am as a teacher and how I teach adult students because of my experiences, culture, and background as they come together to form my teaching identity.
If I taught without knowledge of self, I would not know my adult learners. I relate this to a metaphor, a main ship at night in complete darkness, moon covered by clouds. Other ships are close as each ship cast dark shadows on the water as they look for guidance. It is difficult to see, communicate, or teach them therefore they cannot be guided. In other words, the ship first needs to make meaning of the context which is not clear enough to be seen. In not knowing myself, how can I know my subject? I don’t believe I could and would feel distant from the students as the ships are in the night. According to Cranton, (2001), “…if we don’t know who we are as human beings, it is very difficult to know who we are as teachers” (Galbraith, 2004, p. 11).
This leads to authenticity and its importance to teaching. Authenticity stems from understanding me. This means that I must bring my real self into the classroom. I need to know who I am as a teacher and my personal qualities. It is my enthusiasm and passion for the subject, my honesty that will lead to credibility and integrity that will keep the interest of my students and empower them (Galbraith, 2004, para. p.5). I will be an open book to my students as I share my beliefs and perspectives on the subject in hopes that they question and reflect on their own. It is here that an adult learner will begin to find certain similarities and connections which will open the door to an inclusive and honest learning environment resulting in dialogue.
I can recall a class I had taken last year and one of my fellow students was extremely religious. As I opened up about my studies and my future goals I was put down and inundated with a barrage of questions and comments that were negative. My professor graded one of my papers and as a side note asked me to reflect on the negativity that some hold and how I would deal with it in a classroom setting coming from a student. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with the material I presented in class, but I seemed to make someone else feel uneasy. As I develop and learn more about me it is my inner teacher that will have a stronger connection with my students. I know that I have to be cautious regarding the subject, yet firm regarding my teaching. At that point she opened the door to dialogue and I was able to pose questions to her in which she could reflect upon and respond. I believe it is a fear of the unknown in an adult learner that I am confronting. She held misconceptions within her beliefs that I wanted to change or at least open her mind to reflect upon the new and different while teaching inclusion and acceptance.
In my opinion, my beliefs will affect my teaching of adult learners within the learning environment. It is my values that will echo my personal philosophical views regarding learning, my subject, and how I teach. For instance, one of my beliefs is that as a teacher I am relearning my subject each time I will be teaching it. Apps (1996) commented, “A belief is what we accept as truth” (Galbraith, 2004, p. 11) whether it’s true or not. It is through my beliefs that I develop my views, biases, perceptions of my environment, individuals and the world around me. Are we as teachers prepared for our beliefs to be tested so that the doors open to new knowledge as we are corrected? The constant learning helps develop a good teacher.
My beliefs are also a reflection of the learning students do. My beliefs will influence my teaching practices for example, how I structure learning activities. I will use my passion and narratives in order for students to challenge and develop their own belief systems. I believe the basis for the context for the students to learn will be shaped by my own beliefs, academic, and cultural input. My beliefs as they relate to adult learners are simple, yet complex. As a teacher I will be a bridge that brings knowledge and refection to help empower and allow students to make meaning and construct meaning for themselves in the subject I teach. Some of my beliefs are consistent with Malcolm Knowles:
1. Adult learners can learn if given the right tools
2. Adult students have their personal motivations to continue on with their education
3. Adult students have the right to learn
4. Adult students bring diversity and cultures to the class
5. Adult students learn differently
6. Adult students need to know why they need to learn something
7. Adult Learners move from being a dependent personality toward being more
Galbraith, M. W. (2004). Adult Learning Methods: A guide for effective instruction. Malabar: Krieger Publishing Company.
I believe that the learning style test was accurate in the results. My scores are as follows:
20 – Concrete sequential
15 – Abstract sequential
52 – Abstract random
36 – Concrete random
According to Gregorc’s Mind Styles model of distinctive learning patterns and styles it appears
I learn through Abstract Random. Gregorc & Butler (1984) believe all individuals possess some natural ability in the four channels; however, most individuals possess natural ability in one of the channels more than the others (Gregorc & Butler, 1984, p. 179 a as cited in Thompson, Orr, Thompson & Park, 2002).
Gregorc (n.d.) defines the meaning of abstract, “This quality allows you to visualize, to conceive ideas, to understand or believe that which you cannot actually see. When you are using your abstract quality, you are using your intuition, your imagination, and you are looking beyond “what is” to the more subtle implications. “It is not always what it seems.” Whereas, Random: Lets your mind organize information by chunks, and in no particular order. When you are using your random ability, you may often be able to skip steps in a procedure and still produce the desired result. You may even start in the middle, or at the end, and work backwards. You may also prefer your life to be more impulsive, or spur of the moment, than planned.
I listen to others, I am adaptable, try to bring harmony to group situations, try to establish healthy relationships with others and focus on the issues at hand. I learn best when I am in a personalized environment, given broad or general guidelines, able to maintain friendly relationships and I am able to participate in group activities. What is difficult for me? Having to explain or justify my feelings, competition, working with dictatorial/authoritarian personalities, working in a restrictive environment, working with people who don’t seem friendly, concentrating on one thing at a time as my mind wonders for example, to other tasks, giving exact details, and accepting even positive criticism. (Gregorc, n.d., para.).
Taylor (1997) described Abstract Random (AR) learners as having a capacity to sense moods, and they use intuition to their advantage. They prefer to learn in an unstructured environment such as group discussions and activities. In the future, faculty meetings will be viewed as a time to socialize! They prefer not to be restricted by unnecessary rules and guidelines. Because AR’s continuously discharge energy, they may appear “hyper” when indeed they are not, and AR’s use hand and body movements when communicating. They dislike routine activities and cold, unemotional people (para).
Gregorc (1985a) states that learning styles are, “…behaviors, characteristics, and mannerisms which are symptoms of mental qualities used for gathering data from the environment” (Gregorc, 1982, p. 179 as cited in Thompson, Orr, Thompson & Park, 2002). It is important to know my own learning style because I will teach according to the way I learn utilizing various methods. As an educator, I must understand my own learning style but must use a variety of ways to adapt to the learning styles of my students. Wiggins (n. d.) discussed why a learning style test is useful, “When an instructor’s style matches a student’s learning style, that student typically experiences greater satisfaction and a more positive attitude toward the learning experience. James & Maher also noted, “The awareness you gain can then be applied to any learning situation by analyzing the task, determining the necessary skills or strategies, and selecting a variety of activities appropriate for the situation and to the learners” (as cited in Galbraith, 2004, p. 133).
Galbraith, M. W. (2004). Adult Learning Methods: A guide for effective instruction. Malabar: Krieger Publishing Company.
(There is a) need of forming a theory of experience
in order that education may be intelligently conducted upon
the basis of experience. ~ John Dewey
David Kolb is an American psychologist who is recognized for his contribution to the experiential learning theory. Simmons (2006) commented, “ELT advocate David Kolb called attention to the growing emphasis on experiential learning from the 1960s through the 1980s, and observed that such learning helps to seal the bond between the learner and the learned (para. p.132). Kolb (1984) wrote his findings in a book titled, Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. It is within this book that it reveals the opinion that an individual will learn through personal discovery and action resulting in experience. The reason the theory is called experiential is due to its beginnings taken from other 20th century scholars for instance, theorist Lewin, James, Piaget, Dewey, and Freire noted in the literature creating a new perspective on learning as they encouraged hands-on and learner-centered approaches to learning. Dewey (1938) originally wrote about the benefits of experiential education explaining, “…there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education” (n. p.).
The experiential learning cycle defines learning as Grover & Stovall (2013) noted, “…the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (p. 86). The theory is based on the reflection of experiences and explains that learning is an experiential process. Kolb & Kolb (2005) noted, “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience” (p. 194). He re-defined adult learning by his research in advancing the experiential learning theory creating the most influential of multilinear learning models (Kolb & Kolb, 2005, para. p. 195).
Akella (2001) reported on Kolb’s theory, “… building on the theoretical concepts of Dewey’s pragmatism, Lewin’s social psychology, Piaget’s cognitive development, Rogers’s client-centered therapy, Maslow’s humanism and Perls’s gestalt therapy, provides a comprehensive theory which offers the foundation for an approach to education and learning as a lifelong process (p.101). The experiential learning theory begins with four learning styles based on a four stage learning cycle starting with Concrete Experience (active involvement) followed by Reflective observation (reflecting on what has been experienced), Abstract conceptualization (making sense, interpreting resulting in understanding), and Active experimentation (act on what has been learned). A learner can begin at any stage, but the learner must follow the flowing sequence. The experiential learning theory is built on six propositions that are shared by Lewin, James, Piaget, Dewey, and Freire starting with learning is best conceived as a process not in terms of outcome, all learning is relearning, learning requires the resolution between dialectically opposed modes of adaption to the world, learning is a holistic process of adaption to the world, learning result from synergetic transactions between the person and the environment, and learning is the process of creating knowledge (Kolb & Kolb, 2005. para. p. 194).
In 1975 Roger & Kolb established a test instrument termed the learning style inventory. The Kolb (1985) Learning Style Inventory assists an educator to asses learning styles in order to adjust to the student’s style. This model conceptualizes the particular learning strengths of individual students and to match specific teaching styles with these strengths (Michael, Maypole & Day, 1998, para. p. 32). These findings became the concepts of concrete experience contrasted with abstract conceptualization and reflective observation as opposed to active experimentation. Akella, (2001) remarked, “The ELT model and learning style inventory are used to understand the various stages of learning and the different ways people receive and process new information” (p.100). Akella (2001) also noted, “The Learning Style Inventory Grid (LSI), describes four learner groups, divergers (learning through concrete experience and reflective observation), assimilators (favor abstract conceptualization and reflective observation), convergers (learn through abstract conceptualization and active experimentation, and accommodators (are skilled at concrete experience and active experimentation) (Akella, 2001, para. p. 102).
Kolb re-defined the experiential learning theory by introducing the learning cycle as he utilized Dewey’s theory as a foundation for his theoretical framework while incorporating James’s theory of consciousness is continuous, Lewin’s theory of action research and laboratory which is linked to Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory. According to Hickcox (1991), “Kolb’s learning cycle is a direct interpretation of four structural dimensions of Dewey’s, Lewin’s, and Piaget’s models” based on the holistic theory (para. abstract). As explained by David Kolb (1990), “…it is not his theory of experiential learning, as much as it is him giving voice to the learning theories of those before him. (Hickcox, 1991, p. 75). Kolb’s contribution to the adult learning theory begins with his model of experience that has opened the door to placing the focus on the learner rather than the educator. His models reveal how one learns, grows and develops in their own learning capabilities.
Kolb’s theory applies to my learning. I have eighteen years of experience in the field of accounting. As I reflect upon my role as an accountant my learning style was convergent connecting abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. My learning characteristics were unemotional, strong in practical applications, was able to narrow my interests as I focused on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems. Presently as an author and student I have moved into the learning style stages of diverger with learning characteristics of concreate experience and reflective observation. My learning stems from having a strong imaginative abilities, good at generating ideas and brainstorming, view thing with a different perspective, and interested in people. I do find my learning styles fluctuate depending on the situation and environment such as incorporating accommodator linked to concreate experience and active experimentation. This is seen through having strength in doing things, a risk taker, performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances and solves problems intuitively (Chapman, 2013, para.).
Kolb’s theory applies to my practice of contemporary social issues for adults in the LGBTIQQ community. In taking a holistic approach and focusing on being learner-centered I will be able to match my teaching style with an adult learner’s learning style (Kolb, Kolb, Passarelli & Sharma, 2014, para. p. 207). Learning to focus on reflection will help me to develop and learn from my experiences in order to teach adult learners about genders and our world.
This theory has made me aware that as an effective teacher I will be shaping learners experiences by environmental conditions, but that I will also recognize in the concrete what surroundings are conducive to having experiences that lead to growth as Dewey (1938) reported, “Above all, they should know how to utilize the surroundings, physical and social, that exist so as to extract from them all that they have to contribute to building up experiences that are worthwhile (para. n. p.).
Each adult learner will learn differently. It will be my responsibility as a teacher to first to be confident in my self-knowledge, second to understand the different learning styles in order to teach my students, and three, to remember I am a unique teacher and will educating unique adult learners.
Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D. A. (2005, June). Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing
Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning &
Education, 4(2), 193-212. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40214287
Kolb, A. Y., Kolb, D. A., Passarelli, A. & Sharma, G. (2014). On Becoming an Experiential
Educator: The Educator Role Profile. Simulation & Gaming, 45(2) 204–234. Retrieved