Aside from metacognition and self-regulation, another aspect of learning and teaching is the ability to recognize one’s strategy or strategies to approach the sets of information that are continuously pouring in. Different people at different level of maturation employ different set of approaches to learn something in different situations for different reasons. Philosophers, psychologists and other scientists and researchers labeled these preferences as learning styles.
Learning styles have been described, researched, analyzed and interpreted by many but no specific definition has been agreed upon among them. Different personalities in different disciplines and from among themselves employ different definition. One such meaning that encompasses almost all of the different aspects of how we prefer to learn is the definition of James W. Keefe, an educational writer and consultant (Eye on Education, 2013). Keefe described these learners’ preferences or learning styles as the “composite of characteristics cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment,” (as cited in Clark, 2012).
Many of us, like me, do not know our learning styles. We were doing them when we were still young and while we were still adolescents. We keep doing them until now and yet we do not know what to call them. To know my learning style, I did the free online assessment of Neil Fleming’s VARK Learning Styles. Fleming described my learning styles as Read and Write, the R in the VARK which stands for Visual, Auditory or Aural, Read & Write and Kinesthetic or Tactile (as cited in Cherry, n.d.).
As a Read & Write learner, Kendra Cherry suggested that most of my information or knowledge come from dictionaries, definitions, handouts, textbooks, readings, notes, manuals and other printed materials. She further suggested that to “study without tears or SWOT“, I have to convert my “‘notes’ into a learnable package by reducing them.” To do that, the following suggestions have been presented:
- Repeatedly write out new words that I encountered
- Read my notes several times
- Rephrase ideas and principles as much as possible
- Convert diagrams, charts and visual models into statements
- Compare and contrast ideas and concepts
Aside from advising a Read & Write learner how to study, the author provided some tips on how to achieve good result in an examination. One advice is to practice with multiple choice questions; write complete paragraphs; outline my list of facts or ideas; and write exam papers.
Based on Fleming’s VARK assessment, I could say that I am really a Read & Write learner. I highlighted new words that I encountered in my readings and immediately consulted an online dictionary. Many students do not do what I did saying that it was a waste of time and it interrupted their immersion. What is the point of continue reading when you do not understand a particular new word that might be significant in the entire paragraph or topic?
As a Read and Write learner, I found it challenging as a distance education student. Because I learnt from reading and writing, I need to write what I read. This is very problematic since I do have very limited time reading for my 2 subjects this trimester. It is often than not, since I need to write what I read, I felt I was lagging behind. I sensed that I could not comprehend what I read without writing them. Highlighting texts while reading did not do well either. It only pointed out what I need to transfer on my notes.
Besides writing what I read, the second challenge is citing the source or authors of my readings. While reflecting to write what I have learnt, I always caught on whether what I was writing was my own idea or somebody else. This is true whenever I jot down notes after reading so many articles by so many authors explaining the same concept with different terminologies. In essence, I find it difficult to draw a line between my own knowledge and that of others. For example, if I have to define learning as I understood it based on the ideas of many authors who proposed this new concept, is my definition mine or from them, recognizing that I did not know such idea in the first place? This dilemma is very prominent especially when you cannot recall the persons and yet you know the idea.
I have written my concern on our discussion forum and I would like to add my classmates’ suggestions here before I finally write mine. As of this writing -May 24, 2013 -nobody give any advice yet. I wish to provide mine in a couple of days.
Cherry, K. (n.d.). VARK Learning Styles. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/a/vark-learning-styles.htm
Clark,D. R. (2012). Learning Styles & Preferences. Retrieved on May 12, 2013 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles.html
Eye on Education (2013). James W . Keefe. Retrieve on May 24,2013 from http://www.eyeoneducation.com/Authors/James-Keefe