The first thing I noticed when I went through the School of Management Programme Handbook was the section titled ‘Learning Styles’. This came as a surprise to me as I had never really taken time to explore what my learning style – or styles for that matter – is.
Learning styles in adulthood are not entirely different from your learning experience when you were younger. In fact, all of us have been learning since the moment we were born and the style in which we effectively learn will remain the same throughout our lifetime – at least that’s what psychologists say. Adult learning styles fall into one of four categories:
To aid in the lifelong process of learning, it is important to identify and understand the differences between the various adult learning styles. Even if you are through with your academic career, you will still need to learn all you can about adult learning styles if you haven’t already. This is because learning is a lifelong process and you will most likely continue learning every day of your life, regardless of whether you are in school or not. Television shows, magazines, books, the internet and our jobs will constantly be teaching us something and if you do not know the best way to process information according to your learning style, you will not retain the information as well as you otherwise should.
The different adult learning styles have nothing to do with intelligence. There is no right or wrong way to learn. The important thing to understand is how you learn and process information, so you can help yourself study in the ways most conducive to you.
Of the four adult learning styles, you will most likely find one that describes you.
If you are a Visual/Verbal learner, you tend to work best in an environment that allows you to absorb information both visually and in a written language format as well. Blackboards (including the Leicester virtual learning environment Blackboard), overhead projectors and written handouts are the best ways to help you understand, process and retain information.
If you are a Visual/Non-Verbal learner, you will show a tendency to work best when information is presented to you visually in a picture or graphic design format. You process information best when there are visual aids like film and maps to help you. On Blackboard, students who learn best by visual/non-verbal means can benefit from the group discussion forums as well as the web chat sessions pre-arranged by participants through the virtual learning environment.
The Tactile learner works well with the hands-on approach. Any type of lab setting or field work that allows this person to get up, touch and “do” will enhance their retention of information.This may pose a challenge on Leicester’s Blackboard though a bridging alternative is the Summer School programme allows for distance learning students to visit the campus and interact on one-to-one basis with their lecturers and other faculty members.
The Auditory/Verbal learner benefits from listening to a lecture or presentation and then participating in a group discussion about it. This method is well integrated within Blackboard that offers a wide variety of multimedia learning materials including pod-casts, audio lectures and most recently webinars.
Which of the four adult learning styles are you?
If you are still not sure which of the four adult learning styles best describes you, there are some quizzes, test and surveys you can take that will help you figure it out. There will be a series of questions you have to answer before you can learn which learning style you are. You can find these tests on-line by using search engines, at a book store or possibly a library and through a school or university.
Remember, it’s not only important to understand adult learning styles if you are in school. You will continue to learn throughout the course of your lifetime and you will need to know which of the adult learning styles you are before you can properly help yourself study and retain information.
One important point I’d like to raise will require me revisiting the Learning Taxonomy of Benjamin Bloom that’s also mentioned in the School of Management’s Programme Handbook.
In Bloom’s work, it is evident that “transmission” of information involves the lower order level thinking skills of knowledge and understanding, while “assimilation” involves the higher order thinking skills of application, analysis, creation (synthesis) and evaluation. In layman’s terms, “real” learning occurs outside the traditional classroom.
The big issue with this traditional model is that as the student’s cognitive load increases, the availability of help, in the form of the professor, decreases. This model is reversed in a flipped classroom, where (to put it very, very simply) transmission occurs before class, and assimilation takes place during class, with the aid and help of the instructor.
Blackboard presents a unique practical experience of Blooms’ Taxonomy in that the pyramid is reversed: knowledge is first disseminated through the virtual learning environment, followed by a student’s comprehension of the content, application then precedes analysis followed by synthesis and finally evaluation post-completion of the module undertaken.
Having this in mind, I found it much easier to plan my studies especially for the first module on the MBA titled Foundations of Knowledge and Professional Studies and I hope it will help you too.