We are faced with a lot of different learning experiences, which has greater impacts than others in our lives and one can chalk this down to the learning approach – this is the process where individuals define information about their environment and has a different learning style, and by this I mean the way in which they absorb, analyze, and retain information which makes every one of us unique in our own special way.
All individuals learn differently, some by stimulation of their five senses, and when enhanced greater learning takes place. Every individual has a method by which they learn; therefore one person’s way of learning is very different from that of their peers.
Understanding the learning approach of individuals consists of the question, “what is a learning approach?” which is the preferred way of acquiring knowledge and processing information. This approach affects how we learn, solve problems, partake in different activities and react to the environment.
The original research work to the approaches of learning was carried out by F. Marton and R. Saljo (1976),where they explored an individuals’ approach to learning and identified two main approaches: ‘surface’ and ‘deep’.
Surface learning is the silent acceptance of information, memorization and unlinked facts which leads to superficial memory. Whereas deep learning involves critical analysis of new ideas, and principles, leading to the understanding and long term memory of concepts which is used for problem solving.
The basis of this understanding is to identify the individual with a fixed approach to learning and an opportunity to encourage that individual to adopt a particular learning approach.
Most of us are easily confused with the difference between learning and acquiring knowledge, they are different; ‘learning is the continuous process of addition,’ and ‘acquiring knowledge is memory, an idea stored up as experience.’ Learning as the cognitive process of acquired change in behavior, results from a learner’s interaction with the environment which brings about experience. Learning is the acquiring of new knowledge, skills, values, preferences and understanding. It also strengthens, organize and shape our brains.
Learning effectively entails the possession four abilities: concrete experience; reflective observation; abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. These styles were developed to challenge an individual’s mode of learning that seeks to reduce the potential of their intelligence.
There is a lot of information about how one learns and many of us understand that each individual learns differently or has a preference to learning. David A. Kolb (1984), a pioneer in this field of experiential learning, created four learning elements and states we learn by following this cycle.
Honey and Mumford (1992), defined four styles based around these four stages of Kolb’s learning cycle, and these styles were developed to challenge an individual’s mode of learning. Depending on an individual’s preference, they are classified as: ‘Reflectors’ are substituted for divergent (reflective observation), these are people who are thoughtful analyzers of situations, they listen to others before speaking, collect data and analyze before making decisions. ‘Theorists’ are substituted for assimilator (abstract conceptualization), these people are objective rather than subjective, they collect, analyze and use logical approaches in developing theories concerning a given course of action, and likes theories that makes sense. ‘Pragmatists’ are substituted for converger (concrete experience), these people are interested in trying out new ideas to see if they work, they like getting things done rather than seeing ideas discussed and delayed for consideration, they stick with long term activities if it shows promise of working or being functional.
‘Activists’ are substituted for accommodators (active experimentation), they are risk- takers, are willing to try new experiences and are open-minded to new things, enjoy challenges and are bored easily with long term activities.
Learning takes place through a wide variety of methods and styles, which encourages an individual to challenge new ideas, views and beliefs. The effectiveness of this approach caters to the different learning styles each individual brings to the fore. There are a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds of different people and individuals that have opportunities to learn from their peers through discussions, debates and joint study.
As a Social Care student applying learning styles, these helps service users learn by structuring what works for them which supports their learning and creates character.
Service users are individuals that need motivation in order to learn, which in turn develop their learning styles to help them with problem solving, exploring new ideas and issues based on their intelligences. They have to make their learning a priority and the benefits of the learning styles help them to identify with their ability to learn, which gives them an outline on the effectiveness they have learned from experience.
Learning styles determine the things people learn and the methods they use to learn them. The elements of these styles are to highlight the individual’s preferred learning style which will equip them to choose learning opportunities that expands their knowledge to reflect, which improves ones learning and performance, by identifying what that individual had done well and what should be improved for that same individual to become an all-round learner, which in turn makes them a success for the future.