Critical skills are for life
1. Skills leading to success
During either university study or professional work, personal successes depend significantly on effective learning skills since learning is the essential process for a person to acquire new knowledge and capabilities (Reynolds et al. 2002). The related key skills could be roughly catalogued into three main aspects, i.e. intellectual skills, inter-personal skills and others. Both students and professional employees are expected to have sufficient skills for their roles, however, different people are strong in different learning ways. These various learning ways were defined academically as Learning Style by Dunn and Dunn (Dunn & Dunn 1978) from the U.S.. Also there are other people reported learning style as how students learn in the education rather than what the students have learned (Hunt 1979), while some scholars thought it to be the method which students used during their solving academic problems (Malcom et al. 1981). Dunn & Dunn in the 1970s divided the types of study into four major categories of totally 24 elements (Dunn & Dunn 1978), i.e. environmental factors, emotional factors, social factors and physiological factors. Besides, later in 1980s based on the above four categories they increased the fifth category including three psychological factors. Among those subcategories, the physiological VAK (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) learning style is quite a famous one (Dunn & Dunn 1986). The three types of learners possess different sensitivity to different external excitation. Even there was report indicated a connection with modalities and learning styles
(University of Pennsylvania 2009), the research has been unable to prove that using one single learning style provides the best means for learning a subject. Contrarily, it could probably be learning process is more like a preference but not a style. Although other four subcategories of Dunn & Dunn’s theory are not so popular as VAK, they also present critical factors on learning (see Table 1) (Dunn 2000). In terms of Environmental factors, Dunns indicated that students have diverse ideas of their ideal place for learning. Some want warm and bright space with many learners studying at the same time, while others would prefer cool and subdued lighting rooms with quiet environment. Refer to Emotional dimension, people could be accessed through their self control ability on learning, since there are always people who could carry out self-direct strictly while the others would not be able to perform self-control and are in great need of external support. During Sociological interactivities, different students reveal different extent of enthusiasm on
communications with others. A few people prefer group discussions while a certain quantity of people are not enthusiastic in it; there exist some ones who are quite interested in imitating and learning from senior while some others not. The other dimension is psychological, referring to what view point the students love to choose when solving learning problems, either from the whole to elements or from elements to the whole.
Table 1. Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Style Dimensions (Dunn 2000)
To find out which learning style is better for ourselves plays significant role in personal development. As everyone has a mixed learning style, we should aim to grasp the one which dominant among the learning styles in mind, and this could be done by easy tests (Chislett & Chapman 2005). In terms of VAK factors, my personal learning style is revealed to be kinaesthetic through the test. To help myself in learning, I always pay attention to absorbing information by utilizing doing, touching, moving and experiencing with my own body feeling. For example, to remember a new city from a map when doing tourism, I would like to walk around and collect some photos, which would help me to remember the places through my activities. On academic study, I would do writing...
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