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My Learning Style – How to Learn to Know

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.

Read&write VARK image

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

Writing VARK

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.

Confusing

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.

Images from

1) http://customessaywriting.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/readWrite-cartoon.jpg

2) http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EiZ3bkG87pc/UP25fuiB_wI/AAAAAAAAAZs/izQZ18LItuU/s1600/cartoon_picture_of_girl_writing.jpg

3) http://sportsarock.hu/2012/04/02/hetvegeim-kronikaja-7-megint-vegyesfelvagott/confused-cartoon-face/

References

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


3 Comments

  1. Ric says:

    Hello Pons.

    I totally understand your dilemma because I myself experience them especially your last issue on citing the source and author. I can see you are doing the APA style already.

    Anyway, I don’t know if this is effective for you, Pons. But in my case it is very effective. When reading materials I highlight necessary points which I feel I need when doing my my own composition to be posted in forum or to be blogged in WordPress.com. First is I have to make sure I’ve read or I’ve done research completely on a particular module. To tell the truth, sometimes the one week span of time given for us to accomplish everything is not really enough especially if you are working. So it is really necessary to plan ahead how to make the readings all possible. As much as possible don’t cram yourself because it usually results to a bad effect on your learning progress. My point is gradually read your materials interspersed with breaks if necessary to allow your brain to process everything in your mind. But don’t abuse your breaks.

    Then, just like what Dr. Chew advises on the series videos about “How to Get the Most out of Studying”, allow yourself a time to clear-out your short memory first before you start your first rough draft. While writing your ideas you can always visit the readings you have had for references especially when you want to cite important quotes. Don’t be satisfied with your first rough draft. Allow enough time to copyread your work. Do it as many as you can. I advise you to do it at least thrice. If you have someone who can read your ideas better because this way you know if you are understood the way you lay down things. Because sometimes we tend to have this attitude of not separating yourself from your writing. I mean you think that however you write you can be understood. We tend to forget our readers. Take it from the good authority.

    I just hope that this helps you, Pons.

    • Thank you Ric for your advice. Like you, time is my greatest concern. After reading, I don’t have much time to reflect and write because the next module is on the way. I guess I need to limit my reading based on the objectives of the course module. Since I have not read all the references and have not wrote down my notes, I have not attempted the quiz yet. I will do it when I finished writing in a couple of days. Wish me luck!

  2. Ric says:

    Way to go, Pons. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.🙂

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