Learning Styles

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1. What I intend to do

In this assignment I will aim to discuss the factors which can affect learning for a student. Incorporated in this I will discuss theories of ‘learning styles’, comparing and contrasting them and try to identify aspects which can impact upon my practice. I will analyse my own teaching style and that of others to see how the theories can be applied and also assess my own success in meeting the needs of the students.

1.1 Why?

The information provided in this assignment will allow me a better understanding of the variety of ways a student can learn. This will impact on my future as it will allow me to become a more successful classroom practitioner and allow me to recognise and cater for a variety of styles in my teaching resulting in more enthused, able and satisfied students.

2. Definition of learning

Before one can discuss concepts of learning and learning styles, an understanding of the term is necessary. Learning is defined by the Encarta dictionary as: 1. Acquiring of knowledge: the acquisition of knowledge or skill 2. Acquired knowledge: knowledge or skill gained through education 3. Change in knowledge: a relatively permanent change in, or acquisition of, knowledge, understanding, or behaviour Learning occurs throughout life as more and more information is acquired, definition two focuses on knowledge through education, this is obviously the factor which I will focus on during this assignment, however I felt the inclusion of the other definitions was important, the first links well to the second, and the third is important to understand to allow the implementation of the first two. The third definition highlights that not all learning comes in a school based environment and that learning occurs at all times in all different ways, in effect it highlights that learning can occur in many ‘styles’.

3. Factors affecting learning

Learning is complex; it can be affected by numerous factors which can reduce the effectiveness of learning. Some of these factors can be controlled, others cannot, it is the job of the teacher to have control of as many aspects of the learning as possible to ensure students achieve. Maslow’s original Hierachy of needs incorporates the perceived basic needs of a learner and their motivation, of which most, if not all need to be met to allow learning to be successful

Of the factors mentioned by Maslow, only some can be controlled by the teacher such as safety, stability etc but many are down to the child’s home life. The factors which a teacher can be in control of can be managed by providing a safe, warm teaching environment so that learners are comfortable; the teacher should build positive relationships with the learners to support them and enhance learning and also allow for working in groups within the class. A clear structure and procedure in the lesson will provide stability and rewarding positive acts will give the learner a sense of achievement and help to build a positive reputation, leading to personal growth. The factors which are beyond our control can arguably have a greater effect on the success of learning.

Learning style theories

The idea of learning styles or different approaches to learning ‘emphasizes the fact that individuals perceive and process information in very different ways’. The idea that students learn in different ways implies that how much an individual learns can be affected by teaching method, therefore intelligence needs to be recognised in a different way, instead of is this student intelligent, the question an educator should ask is how is this student intelligent. The concept of learning styles is ‘rooted in the classification of psychological types’ Basically, through research, it has been demonstrated that individuals learn in different ways due to upbringing, heredity and the environment, it has also been demonstrated that ‘different individuals have a tendency to both perceive and process information...
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