As I read the material it became clear that we all have different learning styles and there are conflicting views on whether learning styles matter in different learning environments or if learning activities can be equally effective for online and traditional classroom learners. Is it possible to learn more effectively in one environment compared to another based on how we learn? In my opinion, yes because I believe that a student’s learning styles can be enhanced or hindered by a learning environment as well as vary based on the environment. For instance, I am a visual, kinesthetic learner who appears to be more effective as a student in an online environment rather than face-to-face. It is seen as I reflect on past grades in distance learning courses where I strived and have achieved being an A student (so far) whereas, prior to online learning I struggled in a traditional classroom setting receiving B’s and C’s. Although Terrell (2003) remarked, “The researcher suggested that learners who succeeded did so regardless of their styles because they had the necessary skills for online learning plus the motivation to succeed” Today I have more freedom and confidence as I participate in what I learn and why. Although Neuhauser (2002) commented “…that equivalent learning activities can be equally effective for online and traditional classroom learners” (as cited in McCann, p. 21).
Neuhauser (2002) used the Keirsey Temperament Type instrument based on Carl Jung’s theory regarding psychological types. My four letters are ENFJ representing the idealist teacher and based on this tool Neuhauser commented, “…that learners who scored high on the NT and NF (intuition) styles would do well in online learning, while learners who scored high on the SP or SJ (sensing) styles would have difficulty (as cited in Santos, 2006, p. 81). I also believe that as we mature our styles can change as some of our learning styles become more predominant in how we learn depending on the environment. We have all been that student that had to learn to adapt to a new learning environment in order to succeed. According to Terrell (2005), “…student’s learning preferences may change over time in order to compensate and adapt to an online learning environment.” Hence, learning styles do make a difference and also matter in the online learning environment as well as in formal and informal learning environments.
Our learning is complex as Kolb & Fry (1975) described our learning modes as concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Our learning styles are grouped as assimilative style, accommodative, divergent and convergent (as cited in Richmond, & Cummings, 2005, para. p. 46-48). According to Kolb (1984), there are four learning environments that support the several learning styles and their associated modes. These include the affective which emphasizes concrete experiences, symbolic which involved in trying to solve problems for which there is usually a right answer, perceptual to identify and understand relationships among concepts, and behavioral learning environments that emphasizes actively applying knowledge or skills to a practical problem (as cited in Richmond, & Cummings, 2005, para. p. 48).
Learning styles can work across environments as noted in the website, “The seven styles of learning.” What wasn’t mentioned is that this is Howard Gardner’s theory. Howard Gardner and current technology is used in the classroom as a method to reach as many students as possible; teachers can combine each learning style with a different type of technology giving the student the opportunity to learn more effectively with less worry about missing needed details from long lectures. All eight intelligences listed by Howard Gardner can be used to design a technologically rich classroom environment that will reach every student (Reynolds, n.d.).
Learning is a lifelong process from cradle to grave. There are two types of learning from my experiences. Non-reflective learning which includes my remembering an experience and repeating it or just doing what I am told to do. Whereas, my reflective learning takes place when I plan, monitor, and reflect upon my experiences (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007, para. p. 164).
My transformative learning is connected to my experiences as Baumgartner (2001) noted, that the transformational learning process is intuitive, holistically resolving intrapsychic conflicts, and contextually based” (para. p. 17). It is through this learning that I am able to make meaning from my experiences. In my opinion, Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformational learning promotes my authentic discourse which will help when I am an educator and by critically reflecting on my assumptions, restructuring the distortions in them and replacing them with more accurate and inclusive perspectives” (Boucouvalas & Lawrence, 2010 cited in Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon, para. p. 41).
My transformational learning is complex as many theorists resonated with me such as Paulo, Friere, Mezirow, Daloz, and Boyd. I learn through symbols, emotions, conflicts, sensory input, hands on, holistically, and by interacting with others. My reflective learning is motivated and affected by internal and environmental factors. Mezirow’s theory is based on resolution of cognitive conflicts that leads to transformation, according to Clark, “…transformational learning, which can occur gradually or from a sudden, powerful experience, changes the way people see themselves and their world (Baumgartner, 2001, p. 16). Friere believed that critical consciousness refers to a process in which learners develop the ability to analyze, pose questions, and take action on the social, political, cultural, and economic contexts that influence and shape their lives” (Dirkx,1998, para. p.3). Friere also argued that education, through praxix, should foster freedom among learners by enabling them to reflect on their world and, thereby, change it (Dirkx, 1998, para, p. 2).
Reflective learning means self-revelation in the sense the more I know about myself the easier a connection can be made with a student. It means reflecting on my own perspectives, beliefs and values as Dirkx (1998) remarked, “Through critical reflection, however, we come to identify, asses and possibly reformulate key assumptions on which our perspective are constructed. (p. 4). As I critically reflect on my learning of how and why it is my reflective learning that will help me to plan and reflect upon my experiences as a fifty year old woman who is a student going for an MA in adult learning in the field of practice of contemporary social issues for adults in the LGBTIQQ community. It is in this field where I want to make positive social changes as a student and a teacher.
As I critically reflect on the here and now I realize I have been stockpiling my experiences over time and learning from them in order to be the person I am today with new goals to reach while satisfying a spiritual need to help others. What was the disorienting dilemma that led me on this journey? I was confused at 42 years old being told I was not employable due to my age, education, and 18 years in the field of accounting. I tried be sending out four different resumes, one with all my education and experience to the bare minimum, and yet no job. It was this combination of events that gave me the opportunity to critically reflect on who I want to be now and in the future. Taylor (2000b) commented, “…the triggering event or disorienting dilemma, which was originally conceptualized as a single, dramatic happening may actually be a “long cumulative process” (Baumgartner, 2001, p. 18).
My feelings on the personality assessment instrument are ones of fascination. I am intrigued as to the connections being made of narrowing down an individual’s learning characteristics to their everyday life including work, family, and school. I found the score useful in my reflecting on what it means for me to continue on the path of becoming a teacher. I was enlightened by my personal learning about my weaknesses and strengths as well as seeing the possibilities as I move forward towards my goal. I even looked into becoming an administrator of the instrument.
We learn by interacting with our environment, communicating, and making sense out of their world, resulting in our learning about ourselves, yet it all begins in our brain. The brain is amazing as one is being tested during active events such as playing games, cards, physical tasks, thinking, working out math problems, analogies, communicate, recall items on list, and foresee ex. life 10 years from now as Nardi (2011) noted, “…the brain activity comes about 300 milliseconds before the person executes the action or behavior associated with the brain activity” (Nardi, 2011, para). It is interesting to note that through this testing it becomes apparent that motivation and interest will light up a brain by how people approach a task, particular neocortex regions “light up” when being used for an activity, dark regions indicate what’s not in use or activity has become automatic, and there are various holistic patterns and zigzag sequences (Nardi, 2011, para.). Hence, various regions do similar tasks for all of us (who are right handed), but people vary greatly in how much stimulus is needed to engage a region.
The video Discover your personality type was a well spent seven minutes. Within that time I listened, visually saw meanings and in turn, learned about my personality type letter by letter and its comparison. It was a step by step logical process in order to understand ones learning. It started with the basics of the Myers Briggs theory of personality and defined it as a way to describe differences in the way people think, make decisions, and approach the world around us while incorporating information about who you are and why you do the things you do (Discover your personality type, para.).
The criticism regarding this instrument is reported by Pittenger (1993), “Several studies, however, show that even when the test-retest interval is short (e.g., 5 weeks), as many as 50 percent of the people will be classified into a different type.” I can only speak for myself, but in taking the Meyers-Briggs instrument through the video I do not believe that my personality ESFP would change for instance in my description of a white cup. I would still view it with the same perspective as it was white and Styrofoam.
In my opinion this information is useful for me as an educator as I begin to teach a subject. This instrument has taught me that I must be authentic as I teach and to always be in search of new ways of capturing a student’s attention and keeping it. References
I have been told I am a rare breed and the Keirsey test confirmed it by stating, “Your temperament is the Idealist (NF). This score discussed that Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population” (Keirsey, 2014). In taking it one step further, my four letters are ENFJ representing the idealist teacher. It was interesting to note that my four letters for Myers-Briggs test was ESFP signifying the performer. How is it possible that there can be a change in personality, across a short interval of a couple weeks in between the two tests, when such a change should not occur because personality does not change? The reliability is then questioned as mentioned by Pittenger (1993), “Tests that are highly reliable are preferred because we can be sure that we will get the same result each time we measure the same thing” (p. 54). This tells me that my learning is a mixture of these two personalities. It is possible that depending on the situation different characteristics will rise to the occasion in order learn. My learning is a complex and unique incorporating physiological/perceptual learning, cognitive learning, and affective/personality to enhance my various social learning preferences including feedback and recognition (Galbraith, 2004, para. p. 136).
My learning style (s) represents me and how I want my life to be significant in helping to create a world that is a better place for others. It depicts my concerned about others, being empathetic, having a need to share my knowledge, and caring. It reflects the need for a holistic learning environment that incorporates all my senses. A weakness that was noted in which I must work on would be how I am good at seeing large patterns, but can miss small details (Keirsey, 2014). Yet, according to the Myers-Briggs test results, “They are grounded in reality and are usually keenly aware of the facts and details in their environment, especially as they pertain to people. Once again I believe the difference arises in differing situations. For instance, I am keening aware of details while being a waitress, and yet I can recall a conversation I had with the CEO of a company in which I was an accountant. It went something like, “I don’t understand how I can hand off the most complex problems and you solve them, but the little ones you can’t grasp.”
I have learned from the Myers-Briggs report that being an accountant is an occupation that is unpopular among ESFPs. I am still in the process of developing this characteristic as I learn and grow. Therefore, my learning style reveals that I am better in solving practical and people centered problems. My style also lets me know that I am a researcher who questions much about life and becomes more enlightened when I find a resolution or at least a logical answer. It also confirms my creative side in which I will be able to utilize in a learning environment.
I believe this new information will help me as a learner as both of these reports have confirmed one thing. I am on the right path as my goal to become an educator coincides with my learning style (s).
Galbraith, M. W. (2004). Adult Learning Methods: A guide for effective instruction. Malabar: Krieger Publishing Company.
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.