As part of my preparation for this course I have done some initial planning and research, I followed my usual process of mind mapping and mood boarding. My approach is just to write down ideas words that come to mind relating to the other words and ideas on the page, this can produce some odd strands but it is also unrestrictive which can help you get to places you may have otherwise missed. See my mind maps and mood boards below:
I have also started looking at learning theories and I am starting to wonder whether I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the ambition of trying to understand how people learn? One thing I have realised is that I am not going to find a one size fits all solution. In my initial research I have found that there are many differing ideas and theories about how people learn, these theories include Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Transformative and Neuroeducation. Each of these theories has differing rationale for explaining how we learn but the truth could quite possibly be that they are all right, different people are conditioned in different ways through different circumstance and thus a case could be made that we learn in the way that suits us as individuals dependent on our social, philosophical, psychological and anthropological experiences.
I can see this rabbit hole that I am about to enter getting deeper and deeper if I cannot establish a clear route for the focus of my project.
I have also been looking at Kolbs descriptive model of the adult learning process see below:
This suggests that there are four stages of learning, as seen in the model above and it seems to offer a way to understand individual different learning styles, whilst also offering a description of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.
Kolb explains that different people naturally favour a specific different learning style and various factors can influence a person’s preferred style. Peoples preferred style of learning is the result of two pairs of variables, which Kolb presents as lines of axis, each with ‘conflicting’ modes at either end see below:
Kolb is suggesting that when we approach a new learning situation, we decide to either do or watch, and at the same time we decide whether to either think or feel, this is because we cannot do both at the same time.
As a result of these two decisions our learning style can be defined, when challenged with a task do, do we prefer to watch others attempt the task and reflect upon their experience (‘reflective observation’ – ‘watching’) or do we jump straight in and have a go (‘active experimentation’ – ‘doing’)
At the same time we emotionally process the experience into something meaningful by our choice of reflection upon the task, either by thinking & analyzing ‘abstract conceptualization’ – ‘thinking’) or feeling(‘concrete experience’ – ‘feeling’).
Through these two choices combined a preferred learning style can be established, see the diagram below:
Here are brief descriptions of the four Kolb learning styles taken from the website below:
- Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) – These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations from several different viewpoints. Kolb called this style ‘Diverging’ because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation, for example, brainstorming. People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. People with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.
- Assimilating (watching and thinking – AC/RO) – The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format. People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style of people are important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
- Converging (doing and thinking – AC/AE) – People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a Converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a Converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
- Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE) – The Accommodating learning style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They commonly act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an Accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.
Once a preferred learning style has been established there is the potential to design a learning programme or experience that is orientated towards an individual or groups particular learning style. People may still need differing stimulus and experiences in different situations to that of their preferred learning style, so it is important to offer different types of educational stimulation.
I now feel I have a better understanding of this popular learning theory but I realise it is but one theory and I will be looking at other theories in the near future. I also need to see if I can put this theory in the context of e-learning.
Here are two websites I found useful in understanding this theory: