What is a learning style?
“A learning style is the way in which each individual learner begins to concentrate on, process, absorb and retain new and difficult material. Knowledge is power. Self-knowledge is powerful.” – Dr Rita Dunn
Each of us has different learning strengths – a combination of personal preferences that enable us to:
*Begin to concentrate
*Take in and new and difficult information
*Understand and remember important information and ideas.
When we are able to apply our strengths we become more efficient, more productive and more successful. We are much more likely to produce our best work.
Students who recognise their learning strengths and limitations have an advantage over those who don’t. They know how to help themselves, and when and how to seek help. Teachers and parents who recognise and respect individual difference have an advantage over those who don’t. They are motivated to find solutions instead of finding fault. Employers who appreciate diversity have an advantage over those who don’t. They energise employees by liberating them from the one-size-fits-all mentality.
The Dunn Learning Styles model illustrates a range of significant variables that may affect a person’s ability to concentrate and learn. Some variables are believed to be biologically imposed; others are more inclined to develop and change as we grow and mature. The elements of the Dunn model are grouped according to five key stimuli:
*Environmental – where we learn best
*Sociological – with whom we concentrate best
*Emotional – what motivates us to learn and influences our feelings about learning
*Physiological – when and how we physically engage most in learning
*Psychological – how we process and respond to information and ideas
So, which is your Learning Style?
* Auditory Learners need to hear something in order to learn well. If you fall into this group, doing the following will help you learn more easily: pay attention in class, make recordings of learning material, repeat facts with your eyes closed, ask questions, explain the subject matter to another student, record lectures, participate in group discussions, and study in a quiet environment. Auditory learners like to listen to audio books, lectures, debates, and music.
* Kinesthetic Learners need to touch or experience something in order to remember it. If you fall into this classification, you may have faced greater challenges in the academic environment. Most formal learning is not set up to include physical movement and activities. Nevertheless, if this is your strength, you could benefit from the following activities: making models, visiting museums, giving a demonstration, participating in a simulation, and studying on the floor, bed or any place that feels comfortable. You can also relate to physical activities, direct involvement, hands-on activities, displays, demonstrations, and experiments.
* Read & Write Learners need to learn through words. These students often present themselves as copiuos note takers and avid readers. They are able to translate abstract concepts into words and essays. Writing and re-writing words and notes, rewording principles and ideas, as well as organising diagrams, charts and graphic information into statements, is how these learners absorb and utilise information.
Knowing your dominant learning style will enable you to improve your academic performance in many ways. You can learn faster and more effectively by applying the techniques suited to your learning style. You can create activities at home to help you remember more, no matter how good or bad your teacher is, and no matter how well or poorly the information was transmitted to you in class. By taking control of your learning, you also take responsibility for the results you achieve. You stop blaming other people or situations and start doing what you need to do in order to get the highest score possible on your quizzes, tests, and exams.