An examination of learning styles and my personal discovery of my own.
Learning styles, like personalities, are uniquely individual, and each individual utilizes different learning methods to achieve their academic and professional goals. Also, the environment in which one chooses to learn, or in which they achieve optimal learning, is also factored into each individual learning equation. These individual learning styles can be either a positive or negative influence on one’s ability to engage in the peak learning experience. To become a successful lifelong learner, one must assess and analyze his own individual learning style, and perform exercises to improve his learning abilities. By utilizing current learning styles as a foundation on which to build, and improve, an individual’s learning skills, learning becomes effortless, and more fulfilling. In order to better understand these concepts, and assess my own personal learning style, I performed the four learning style assessment tests in the text. Test number one offered questions and exercises to determine my best and worst times for learning, or “peaks and valley times.” By knowing, and understanding, one’s “peak and valley times,” one can choose to learn at times when the mood for learning is at an optimum, or peak time, and perform other non-learning tasks when the mood for learning is undesirable, or valley time. Upon taking the test, I discovered that my peak times are the early to midmorning and early evening, and my valley times are early afternoons and late nights. Test number two offered questions and exercises to determine whether I learn from the bottom up, a “stringer,” or the top down, a “grouper.” Groupers prefer to gain an overall perspective, and general understanding of a subject first, while stringers prefer a structured step-by-step approach in order to build a firm foundation by gaining extensive knowledge of specific details of a subject, before moving on. Groupers are better suited to unstructured and individualistic learning programs, i.e., alternative educational models, instead of the rigid and systematic learning atmosphere that the current educational model represents, and stringers, who do not do well in unstructured learning environments, are better suited to the current educational model. The ability to know whether, or not, one is a grouper or a stringer, assists in the capacity to foresee potential blockades to learning, and to circumvent these blockades by finding alternative ways to use these and other learning skills to your advantage. Upon completion of the exercises and questions, I determined that I am a grouper, because I enjoy, and desire, to learn basic principles of a subject on my own in an unstructured manner, then proceed with reckless abandon to explore, and research, all aspects of it. Test number three, offered questions and exercises to determine which of the four learning quadrants, A, B, C, or D, an individual learning falls. If an individual learning falls within the “Style A” quadrant, his learning style is based on a logical order of facts grounded in the specific knowledge of a subject. An individual falling within the “Style B” quadrant learns based upon order, sequential learning, and well-organized data presented by a learned professional. “Style C” quadrant learners base their learning upon communications with others. They must discuss information at length with their peers, and preferring an open forum to the more structured discussions of a classroom. The final learning quadrant is “Style D, ” and the style that best suits me. This style represents the most eclectic learning style of the four. It is the style that is interested in the many subtle aspects of a subject, rather the obvious, and allows the mind to investigate and open itself to the possibilities of new paradigms, yet not entertaining any. The final test, four, offered questions and exercises to determine an individual’s personal intelligences, but the meaning of intelligence, as it is referred to herein, is not the intelligence in the traditional sense. When one speaks of an individual’s personal intelligences, he is speaking of learning talents. There are eight learning intelligences, linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, natural, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal, and an individual may excel at only one of them, or all eight . These learning intelligences are specific learning abilities that an individual possesses in certain subjects, or activities, and which may explain why some individuals seem to be “naturals” at certain things, while others flounder. By determining which intelligences one possesses, and concentrating one’s learning in the realm in which he excels, an individual can promote, and enjoy, a phenomenally satisfying learning experience. Also, by determining which intelligence(s) is best suited for a given learning situation, and by utilizing that intelligence(s) in conjunction with one’s other unique learning styles, an individual can build a collection of learning skills, that complement, and enhance the learning experience. After careful thought, and numerous reviews of the questions, I discovered that I possess all seven of the learning intelligences, however, if I had to pick an intelligence that is the weakest, it would have to be the logical-mathematical intelligence, with specific emphasis on the mathematical area. When matching my style to the various learning resources, I found it extremely difficult to choose which three of the thirteen that I felt most comfortable with. I also found it quite amusing, that the supposition was in regard to endangered species, because that is an area of extreme interest and involvement for me. As mentioned previously, it was an extremely tough choice to make, however, I chose the following: Attending a series of lectures; writing a paper, article, or speech on the subject, based on any one of the other experiences; and working on my own to design a public information campaign that would spread the word about the general problems and solicit support for a nationally active organization in this field. My reasoning for choosing these three, eludes me, I simply chose them because they felt right, and they seemed to fit my specific learning profile. It is, however, extremely important to note that while these tests and exercises are valuable tools in determining one’s learning strengths and weaknesses. Lifelong learners must make a firm commitment to themselves to continue learning about their personal learning style, as well as, continuing to learn. In closing, since I am not one who enjoys, or excels at, structured learning, I believe that the best way to continue to learn more about my personal learning style would be as follows: 1. Continue to journal in my learning log. 2. Write thoughts and observations with regard to my positive, or negative, learning experiences, and the subject in which these experiences occurred. 3. Engage in teaching others, because I have discovered that one of the ways in which I learn easily, and enjoy, is to teach others. 4. Attend workshops, seminars, and discussion groups. 5. Research articles, books, videos, electronic media for information. 6. Experiment, develop new and alternative learning methods, and be flexible. ©1999 Lloydene F. Hill