Oh, That Is How I Learn!
Until this assignment, I’d never gotten a clear sense of my learning style. Of course, I have been learning constantly in my life. Learning is one of my strongest passions. I have just never known how I learn best. Since college, I mostly read books to learn. I have tried educational audio recordings. They are handy for the car, but I did not notice an improvement in enjoyment or learning. I have tried lectures on VHS or DVD but they turned out to have a number of drawbacks. I have not tried continuing education classes, I just could not be bothered. This assignment has caused me to revisit my learning style and, much to my surprise, all of the above are my learning style!
The most informative learning styles inventory I found online was a multivariate model, very reminiscent of the Myers-Briggs personality index (Felder & Soloman, n.d.). They break down learning styles into four sets of two binary choices on a 0 to 11 scale (11 representing the strongest preference and 1 representing the least). In their system, learners are Active or Reflective. They are Sensing or Intuitive. They are Visual or Verbal. They are Sequential or Global. My test results were Reflective (7)-Intuitive (9)-Visual (7)-Global (3) (Soloman & Felder, n.d.). Thus, I have a strong preference in each characteristic except for Global in which I fell closer to the middle.
Before I found Felder and Soloman, I found three other websites (Abiator’s online n.d.; Gerth, n.d.; Jester n.d.). In each one, I scored ‘visual’ or high visual. The Abiator (n.d.) website scored me ‘visual’. Gerth (n.d.) had me 28 visual, 18 auditory, 18 kinesthetic. Jester (n.d.) scored me 28 visual/nonverbal, 30 visual/verbal, 22 auditory and 12 kinesthetic. I also found one more (Learning-Styles-Online.com, 2003-2007) where I scored high on verbal and solitary (visual 10, social 11, physical 8, aural 12, verbal 15, solitary 17, logical 11).
This gives me a consistent picture. I am visual. I am verbal. I prefer to work alone. I prefer concepts to details and pondering to practice. Being this way has caused me not a small amount of trouble in my academic life because in many ways it is at odds with the system. It also makes clear that I will need to bridge quite a few differences to be highly effective as a classroom teacher.
I have struggled all my life with my introverted tendencies. What I have learned, and need to continue to practice and expand as a teacher, is to structure times when I can recharge; thinking quietly and enjoying the lack of external stimulus. When I am with people, I rely on affinity to power me through. This has worked very well in my daughter’s class. My joy and enthusiasm for the students carries me comfortably through the days. Were I to be teaching full-time, I think I would ‘make waves’, alternating energetic time in the classroom with quieter time. Not only would this be of service to me, it’d be of service to all the introverted, reflective children in the class.
My intuitive and global nature has also placed me somewhat apart in my life. In a world made up of people for whom detail and process is paramount, conceptual thinkers like me often come across like Christopher Lloyd in his white scientist’s coat! But here again, I believe this will be a service to my students. The process/detail-based children will automatically be taken care of. I have learned those skills to survive in my life and the curriculum is generally designed in that fashion. Additionally, I can be an example and advocate for all the children who are wired similarly to me. Finally as a visual learner in a non-visual world I am motivated to teach to all the different styles of learning. Knowing my experiences, knowing how alien my early education seemed to me, I can fight hard for each child’s particular learning needs.
These are the two main conclusions I have reached in this study. First, it is good to see clearly who I am as a learner, where I have come from and how I can better relate to the whole world of learning. I can understand why some of the educational situations I experienced as unnecessarily hard or separating were the way they were and I can change some of that based on better knowing my needs. Second and more important, this knowledge gives me even more determination to stand for every child in my care; for their unique learning style, their unique personality, and their unique circumstances.
Abiator’s online learning styles inventory 1. (n.d.). Abiator: online education. Retrieved from http://www.berghuis.co.nz/abiator/lsi/lsitest1.html
Felder, R., & Soloman, B. (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies. North Carolina State University. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm
Gerth, D. (n.d.). Barsch inventory. Nashville State Community College. Retrieved from http://ww2.nscc.edu/gerth_d/AAA0000000/barsch_inventory.htm#results
Jester, C. (n.d.). A learning style survey for college. Diablo Valley College. Retrieved from http://www.metamath.com/multiple/multiple_choice_questions.html
Learning-Styles-Online.com. (2003-2007). Memletics learning styles questionnaire. Retrieved from http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory/questions.asp
Soloman, B., & Felder, R. (n.d.). Index of learning styles questionnaire. North Carolina State University. Retrieved from http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html