Making sense of different learning environments   Leave a comment

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.).


McCann, B. M. (2006). The Relationship Between Learning Styles, Learning Environments, and Student Success. Journal of Agricultural Education, 47 (3) 14-23). Retrieved from,

Reynolds, R. J. (n. d). Reaching different learning styles through technology. Retrieved from,

Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. (2005). Implementing Kolb’s learning styles into online distance education. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 1 (1), 45-54. Retrieved from,

Santo, S. A. (2006). Relationships between Learning Styles and Online Learning: Myth or Reality? Performance Improvements Quarterly, 19 (3). Retrieved from

Terrell, S. R. (2005, Summer). Supporting Different Learning Styles in the Online Environment: Does it really matter anyway? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 8 (2) Retrieved from,

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