2Differences in Learning Styles Individuals have different preferences for receiving and processing information. It has been argued that when the learning style of a student and the teaching style of an instructor do not match, the student is likely to have difficulty learning, get discouraged about the course, and perform poorly.Learning styles could also have implications in the workforce—for example, when a company offers continuing professional education (CPE).
3Learning ApproachesGiven the diverse student body in today’s classrooms and the expanded set of learning approaches that have emerged because of online education and new technology, it is particularly important for educators to better understand the learning styles of various student groups.Such information will potentially serve them well in designing courses that challenge students to move beyond their comfort level and achieve higher learning effectiveness.Similarly, in a work environment, in-house educators and supervisors must decide how they will facilitate and support current performance, while also developing employees who are ready for the next level.
4Learning StylesExperiential learning focuses on learning through experience. David Kolb’s model of experiential learning involves a four-stage cycle (Learning Style Inventory, version 3, the Hay Group, 1999). The process starts when a learner encounters a new experience, referred to as a “concrete experience.” The next phase, “reflective observation,” involves drawing upon past experiences to perceive the new experience from different perspectives.This is followed by “abstract conceptualization,” in which a person generates theories and solutions to the new issues encountered. Finally, the development of concepts leads to “active experimentation,” where a person tests and applies the theories and solutions previously generated. This cycle can be continuous or repeating as individuals encounter other new experiences.
6Major Challenges in Learning Lack of the skills needed to move through one of the key steps in the process;Overemphasizing one or two of the key steps;Giving up too soon or not completing enough cycles for deep learning;Not moving through the necessary cycles fast enough or cost- effectively;Not managing it as a process or just “letting it happen”.
8Diverging (feeling and watching) These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations several different viewpoints. Kolb called this style 'Diverging' because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation, for example, brainstorming. People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. People with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.
9Assimilating (watching and thinking) The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format. People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style people is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
10Converging (doing and thinking) People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a Converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a Converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
11Accommodating (doing and feeling) The Accommodating learning style is 'hands-on', and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people's analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They commonly act on 'gut' instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an Accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.
12Observational Learning According to Kolb: Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience" (Kolb, 1984: 38). However, an individual or a group does not necessarily have to participate in the experience directly in order to acquire new knowledge or skill. In fact, research shows that many learning phenomena resulting from direct experiences can occur on a vicarious basis, such as through observation of other persons' behaviours and its consequences (Bandura, 1986)
13Vicarious Observational Learning (VOL) Vicarious observational learning (VOL) represents a learning method that places observation in the forefront of the learning process, with a key benefit seeming to derive to VOL from heavy cognitive demands placed on people when directly experiencing a task, as opposed to lighter demands placed on observers (Manz & Sims, 1981).
14Vicarious LearningAs vicarious learning is closely related to observational learning, we now turn to a comparison of how observational learning informs vicarious and direct learning experiences. According to Bandura (1977), observational learning includes attention, retention, reproductive, and motivational processes.In particular, attention processes emphasize how we perceive and become aware of learning opportunities. While a direct experiential learners' cognitive attention is necessarily focused on the task at hand, observational learners face no immediate task demands, potentially freeing up cognitive resources to perceive whichever aspects of a task are chosen by the learner as a point of focus.
15Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), ELT predicts that humans learn through a recurring cycle of four learning modes: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. The first learning mode in ELT’s cycle, concrete experience (learning by experiencing), endorses a receptive, involving, and experience based approach to learning. This mode supports substantial levels of visceral engagement in the curriculum through immediate, here-and-now experiences. ELT’s cycle does not begin and end with an isolated learning experience.
16Learning ModesReflective observation, or learning by watching. Here, learners scrutinize the attitudes, thoughts, and/or behaviors that emerged during the concrete experience. In this mode, individuals reflect on the nuances of a concrete experience and begin an analysis of what is to be learned from that experience. Then, an individual uses these observations to conceptualize and think abstractly to build an idea, generalization, or personal theory from which new implications for action can be formulated or deduced through abstract conceptualization, or learning by thinking.
17This learning mode often involves the reassessment of one’s attitudes, thoughts, and/or behaviors. These implications or hypotheses then serve as guideposts via active experimentation to integrate these paradigm shifts into future situations and new experiences.The mode involves learning by doing and prepares learners for cultivating and directing personal growth by compelling them to plan for and apply the insights and knowledge gained during the concrete experience mode. Together, the four learning modes create a recursive, holistic, and dialectic process of human learning.