Fitting the Pieces Together

It has been 7 long weeks of learning about Learning Theories and learning styles, how they explain learning and can be applied to the learning environment. I’ve reviewed cognitive learning theory, constructivism, adult learning, connectivism, social learning and behaviorism. I should state upfront that I’ve looked at most of these theories before, adult learning and connectivism would be the only new theories, so this was not expected to be a difficult exercise. During the first week of our class I was asked to identify the learning theory that best explained how I learned. At this point in time I was 100% certain that I learned best through constructivism. While instructing my students I also tend to use this along with behaviorist approach to learning, mostly defining the outcomes and crafting instructions to ensure these behaviors are displayed at the end of instruction.

After 7 weeks and several resources on learning theories I think I must reassess my views. Why is this important? Kemp (1977) argues that successful transfer of knowledge is aided through an understanding of the principles of learning. So, if I want to be a better learner and teacher I must understand how I learn and how my students learn.

What came as a surprise to me is that at current day I am confused! It is obvious to me some theories are meant to build on others and expand the thinking. However, when I reviewed the theories I am no longer as certain as I was a few weeks ago. The material covered has left me with a melting pot of theories and information that I’m not certain I’ve made sense of.

I think the best way to identify my learning style is then to identify the things that matter most to me as a learner.

  • I tend to pull from my prior experiences and knowledge
  • While it’s not extremely important to use new knowledge into my work environment, the information must have some relevance for me and should generally increase the body of knowledge I currently possess.
  • I learn through a variety of technologies, people and resources and frequently add to this network
  • Any new knowledge I gain is usually reviewed and cross checked before incorporating in existing schemas
  • I like learning new things and challenging myself to accomplish just a little bit more
  • I thrive on a challenge and sometimes need intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to continue
  • I also learn vicariously through observation of others and watching videos. In my observation of others, I tend to review the situation to catalog all important variables and pull out this knowledge when the situation requires it

I find it difficult to identify one theory that best describes how I learn. My new knowledge on learning theories does suggest that adult learning theory best explains how I acquire and utilize new information. This theory incorporates principles from cognitivism, constructivism, connectivism and social learning which all explains how I learn.

As convoluted as this may be for some, I’m going to add to this confusion by saying that my learning style is just as complex. For the uninitiated, learning styles are the ways in which the learner generally approach different learning tasks. Everyone has a mix of learning styles that are changeable dependent on the concept and preference and there is no right mix (Advanogy.com, 2015). This is perhaps also true for learning theories. I believe Ormrod, Schunk, and Gredler (2009) said it best, “the world can be constructed in many different ways, so no theory has a lock on the truth”.

In spite of the confusing view of theories and styles I can happily report that my dependence on technology has not changed. I am still heavily dependent on technology for most of my daily tasks; from home, to work, to school. My tablet, phone and laptop are my tools of choice for searching and reviewing information on the web. My news, entertainment and education all revolve around these tools. The dark ages will certainly be the result if one or all of these devices fail me one of these days.

References

Advanogy.com . (2015, June 21). Overview of Learning Styles. Retrieved from Learning-Styles-Online.com: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/index.php

Cassidy, S. (2004, August). Learning Styles: An overview of theories, models and measures. Educational Psychology, 24(4), 419-444.

Kemp, J. E. (1977). Instructional design (2nd ed.). Belmont, California: Fearon Publishers, Inc.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition ed.). New York: Pearson.

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