Accommodating diverging learning styles

David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his learning style inventory.

Kolb's experiential learning theory works on two levels: a four stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles.

Learning styles are discussed here to make teachers realize that students – and teachers - have different approaches to learning and that adapting the way of presenting and dealing with content may facilitate the acquisition of knowledge on the cognitive and practical level. This model could be used for planning exams at the crucial points during a class, which might ensure the opportunity to realize how students studied during the term and to modify their performances. They compared a group of high abstract/high concrete (AC-CE) student pairs with a group of abstract pairs (AC-AC) and a group of concrete pairs (CE-CE). It’s structure may vary depending on the number of students and different situations.

The Model of David Kolb of experienced learning is discussed as an example to apply a learning style theory to planning and performing teaching. Knowing importance of experience, the effective teacher builds his or her lectures on exploration of what students already know and believe. The four groups of homogeneous teams had similar performance results. The abstract/concrete (AC-CE) pairs performed significantly better on a simulated clinical case than the abstract pairs and slightly better than the concrete pairs (CE-CE), indicating the value of integrating the abstract and concrete dialectics of the learning cycle. If a teacher has only one student he/she can prefer the student’s preferred learning style during the teaching unit.

Experiential learning theory and learning styles find their application in wide range of disciplines. In Kolb’s theory learning takes place in a cyclic way. Kolb emphasises two very important aspects: 1st the use of concrete experience to test ideas, and 2nd the use of feedback to change practices and theories.

It is used in education to improve students’ learning abilities, and in management to improve teams’ performances. This cycle consists of four stages (Figure 1): The concept of learning style describes individual differences in learning based on the learner’s preference for employing different phases of the learning cycle. As these two aspects are crucial, it is essential to involve both processes in the planning of classes.

Many educators are familiar with the categories of visual, auditory, and tactile preferences for learning.

We perceive new stimuli by either feeling or thinking; we process new information by either watching or doing.

First, they renamed the stages in the learning cycle to accord with managerial experiences: having an experience, reviewing the experience, concluding from the experience, and planning the next steps.

These four learning styles are assumed to be acquired preferences that are adaptable, either at will or through changed circumstances, rather than being fixed personality characteristics.

Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables, or two separate 'choices' that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of axis, each with 'conflicting' modes at either end: A typical presentation of Kolb's two continuums is that the east-west axis is called the Processing Continuum (how we approach a task), and the north-south axis is called the Perception Continuum (our emotional response, or how we think or feel about it).

Kolb believed that we cannot perform both variables on a single axis at the same time (e.g. Our learning style is a product of these two choice decisions.

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