week 7 forum post responses

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

Learning Styles

How we differ in the ways that we learn has been of interest to psychologists and educators alike for the last several decades. Distinguish between the three most supported learning style typologies: visualizer-verbalizer dimension, Kolb’s theory, and Sternberg’s theory by comparing and contrasting their strengths and weaknesses. How does learning style influence educational intervention and/or approach? Lastly, apply these concepts to a learning experience you may have had.

Forum post #1

According to the research of Mayer & Massa (2003) an examination of the Visual-Verbal cognitive style is typically categorized into three different measurements- cognitive abilities (what people are doing), cognitive style (how people process data or present info), and learning preference (how individuals learn). This approach is usually evaluated through the use of the Verbalizer-Visualizer Questionnaire, but many researchers have complained that this analysis is flawed due to a lack of consistency (Mayer & Massa, 2003). This confusion often causes the visual-verbal dimension as a cognitive style and a learning preference. Despite the depth of the study, none of the tests are more accurate or more conclusive than a person simply being asked if he or she is more adept at learning visually or verbally. In fact, there is a strong correlation between self-assessment and academic achievement in this regard (Mayer & Massa, 2003).

Sternberg’s theory of learning appears to categorize learning into componential, experiential, and practical forms of intelligence. The first, componential is a person’s ability to be analytical or solve problems. The second form, experiential is often a measure of creativity and intuition. A person that is skilled at artistic tasks might excel here, despite not being considered “intelligent” by most standardized tests. Practical intelligence is a measure of how well an individual can adapt to new ideas and experiences, and is often referred to under the layman term “street smarts”. A practical person will either reshape an environment to suit them, or will be adept at “fitting in”. Like many of the other theories, individuals do not often fit well into only one of these specific categories (Zhang & Sternberg, 2000).

The theories of Kolb tend to divide people into four basic categories, which are Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, and Accommodating. When discussing Kolb’s learning theories, the four types of learning not only assess an individual’s personality and adaptability, it is also a measure of what kinds of fields and careers a person is likely to be successful in. He found that particular careers tend to be dominated by specific types of personalities. For instance, those who excel at Assimilating tend to be strong scientists, but very poor in fields that focus on individual people. Those marked as the Converging style tend to be technical in nature, and not overly concerned with social or interpersonal issues. That being said, Burger & Scholz (2014) show how even Kolb acknowledged that these differences between vocations are more likely to be the result of training learned during one’s education rather than differences in the learning style. While acknowledging that successful individuals are often able to overcome any supposed disadvantages in learning styles due to perseverance, there are often psychological consequences to this in terms of stress and burnout; therefore, anyone could potential be successful in any field he or she aspires to, but the impact to that person may be significant if they are not a good fit for that field (Burger & Scholz, 2014). In theory, someone that Kolb labeled as Diverging would be better Social Workers or Therapist than individuals in one of the other three categories, but like the idea of introverts versus extroverts, real people tend to not fit cleanly into only one category.

Although I think of myself as experimental and hands-on in nature, due to the fact I am more likely to “learn by doing”, I have never specifically attempted to incorporate one particular style of learning over another. As far as visual or verbal, it is difficult to determine this specifically. For studying purposes, I tend to prefer a video or lecture over reading, because I can easily get distracted while reading. This is why I tend to do poorly on types of learning that require repetition of memorization, and would rather give a presentation or be able to answer in the form of an essay if a written response is required. I did not do well on the SAT or the GRE, but I find I often excel at tasks that require thinking “outside of the box”. Education does not typically favor learning styles like mine prior to University education, since many schools design their education systems around memorization and repeating what was learned.

Forum post #2

In the visualizer-verbalizer dimension, information is processed either visually or verbally. Visual learners process information by use of imagery; on the other hand, verbalizers process information through verbal means (Mayer & Massa, 2003). If you know what type of learner you are, finding tools and resources that suit this style might increase your ability to learn. However, due to the fact that discovering your learning style is either based off of your own experience or the completion of a questionnaire, an individual might think that they learn better one way, but actually learn better in another way.

In Kolb’s Theory, learning styles are developed based off of our environment, different experiences faced during our lifetime, and our genetic make-up. Experience drives learning. Kolb’s theory encompasses a four stage learning cycle which consists of: concrete experimentation, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experience (Burger & Scholz, 2014). The theory also addresses four different categories for people to fall into: diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating. These categories might not adequately reflect everyone’s learning style. Learning is a never ending process. A strengths of this theory would be the ability to begin a learning experience anywhere on the cycle.

An example of this cycle can be observed when learning to drive a car. It could begin with an individual watching a parent or friend drive the vehicle. This would be the reflection stage. The next stage would be understanding the basic operation of the car and road rules, which is the conceptualization stage. After that, the active experience stage. The parent or friend would offer advice and take the individual through procedures for operating the car. Finally, the concrete experiment stage with the act of driving the car.

Sternberg’s theory views intelligence on how well an individual adapts to the changing environment. Sternberg’s theory states that intelligence can be broken up into multiple components: Experiential (creativity), Componential (analytic skill), and Practical (contextual). He was against most IQ tests due to his belief in their inadequate measuring of all three components. Strengths of Sternberg’s theory include the idea that intelligence is not just measured on one level, such as academic performance. Some people may perform better in one component over another.

By understanding how an individual learns, their environment can be changed to suit their preferred learning style. With these changes, the individual’s learning results could be improved. This is largely understood in lower level grades. Children in pre-school and kindergarten will not be instructed by use of power points and lengthy lectures. Instead, visual aid, shapes, and bright colored objects would be incorporated for learning.

Forum post #3

Psychologists and educators propose three common learning style models: visualizer-verbalizer dimension, Kolb’s theory, and Sternberg’s theory. Visualizer-verbalizer dimension proposes that individuals are either visual or verbal learners; visual learners learn by seeing, verbal learners learn by hearing or reading. David Kolb’s experiential learning theory focuses on the learner’s internal cognitive processes that result from experience. He held that knowledge is a continuous process based on a four-stage learning cycle of experience, reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation or testing out what was learned. Kolb proposed four learning styles: diverging (concrete, reflective), assimilating (abstract, reflective), converging (abstract, active), and accommodating (concrete, active). Diverging looks at concrete situations from a variety of ways, reflecting and often working together with groups to arrive at an answer. Assimilating uses reflection to devise answers and solutions. Converging takes a problem-solving approach from various thoughts and ideas. Accommodating uses more “hands-on” active learning, where the focus is on trial and error to arrive at the correct solution. Robert Sternberg’s theory uses a cognitive approach to intelligence and learning, called the triarchic components of analytical, creative, and practical knowledge and skills. Individuals acquire and utilize knowledge acquisition from these three components, with a strong identification with one (analytical, creative, or practical).

While research shows that individuals are primarily visual or verbal learners, visualizer-verbalizer dimension doesn’t look at how this information builds upon or modifies previous learning. It also doesn’t look at other forms of learning like kinesthetic, tactile, or spacial learning. Sternberg’s theory points to the importance of different types of intelligence (analyzing and evaluating information, creating novel ideas or solutions, or using practical knowledge to solve concrete situations), but doesn’t examine the optimal intake of information like visual-verbal learning theory does. Kolb’s theory is the most complex model of the three with a four-stage learning cycle and four learning styles. His theory also explains how knowledge grows, expands, and is revised, but like Sternberg’s theory, doesn’t examine how new information is accessed other than being experiential.

Learning style can influence educational intervention and/or approach in a multitude of ways. By knowing an individual’s learning style: visual or verbal, analytical/creative/practical, and/or Kolb’s learning styles of diverging (concrete, reflective), assimilating (abstract, reflective), converging (abstract, active), or accommodating (concrete, active), educators can modify instruction to maximize learning. Today’s technology can help support these efforts, e.g., with reading software for individuals with dyslexia and those who learn best by hearing. Kinesthetic learners can be given hands-on learning; even the ability to move about the room can activate a kinesthetic learner’s multisensory strengths.

A learning experience I have had that portrays a strong learning style came when I tried to teach myself crochet. I checked out a book from a library that had lots of pictures, read the book and spent much time fiddling with the crochet hook and yarn, only to create a snarl of yarn that fell apart at the simplest touch. Frustrated, I vented to my husband, who spent a minute or two looking at the pictures and then taught me hands-on how to crochet. I thought I was a verbal learner up until that point, but clearly am more visual when it came to hands-on activities.

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