Learning Styles; Perspectives of Effective Learners
This paper examines literature by different authors on the perspectives of learners regarding the learning styles they find most effective. It also lays out a structure for the collection of data among learners. Just as every individual is unique, the way they grasp concepts is pegged on many factors. There can never be a one size fits all kind of methodology for teachers to get information across to their students. Unfortunately, in most cases students of varying abilities are lumped together and taken through a uniform method of teaching. Pre-COVID, most institutions made use of physical class lectures that facilitated a one on one interaction between the students and the teachers. Change was rather abrupt for most of these learning institutions when the whole world had to adapt to less contact as a containment measure for the spread of the COVID virus. With change, there must always be benefits and repercussions. As such, learning styles and teaching modalities post COVID have necessitated an investigation on student preferences especially since, classification and framing bring out the social structure and practices of the regular classroom and interconnections to the world beyond.
Whether at the height of managing a pandemic or as a normal measure for efficiency, having a mixed modality approach in teaching enforces the use of practical methods over traditional learning concepts (Graham, 2013). Students have their preferences when it comes to learning styles. In fact, most are aware of the methods that work best for them and through which there are able to bring out their best skills. For that reason, it is paramount to engage learners in a more open approach for their overall benefit and the optimization of learning sessions. In that light, when students have positive academic experiences, they are likely to enhance their self‐efficacy and lifelong learning. Establishing the right learning styles creates congruence between self-development, learning styles and teaching methods (Boström & Lassen 2006).
Yates, in his article on cognitive styles and learning strategies, emphasizes the difference between traditional teaching methods and creative teaching approaches with regard to the types of students who benefit from either. He states that the traditional knowledge-based examinations favor judicial style students but may disadvantage the legislative global students, who are often perceived to be the big thinkers or creatives. For them, a creative portfolio is best (Yates, 1999). Optimizing learning improves students’ achievement and motivation translating to better academic scores (Boström & Lassen 2006). Some learners require more time to grasp concepts as compared to others. There are plenty of factors that affect the learning process, therefore, making it necessary to engage more than just a few learning styles (Yates, 1999). In that light, Yates highlights that learning approaches are at the core of good performance.
Graham reviews the findings of different writers on classification and framing. He identifies various weaknesses in the methods that teachers apply in their classrooms citing that giving more focus on outcomes and pedagogy blurs the actual question: what the value of the content and knowledge imparted is. This analysis introduces a new angle in the evaluation of learning styles and their effectiveness. From Graham’s point of view, educators should focus more on what is taught rather than how the teaching is done. This research is inclined towards establishing appropriate learning styles for the different kinds of learners firstly by understanding their preferences. For successful outcomes, Graham suggests that teachers must set explicit rules regarding curriculum content, evaluation and delivery of information, conduct and social order for learning to be fruitful. Whenever these aspects are not taken seriously, then the teachers work with a weak classification and framing that results in a “less visible pedagogy” (Graham, 2013).
Among the many students that make up every classroom, there is a special group, those with special talents in sports, music and other arts. From the U.S. Department of Education (1993) report, National Excellence: A case for Developing America’s Talent, at least 40% of the top 5% of high school graduates do not graduate from college. This turns out to be a national problem that cuts across students of all ability levels. Mostly, gifted students tend to focus more on their talents than on their academic performance. As a result, they end up not reaching their full academic potential (Rayneri, Gerber & Wiley 2006). After an analysis of several articles discussing the perceptions of gifted students towards the classroom setting, there is a common finding that identifies a correlation between higher GPA and the students’ perceived level of persistence, citing motivation; persistence and auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities as active ingredients in the analysis of performance.
The factors that affect a student’s learning abilities are so diverse but they can mainly be attributes to personal traits, family background, genetics and the school learning environment. To underscore Graham’s (2013) findings on the importance of a strong and visible pedagogy, Rayneri, Gerber & Wiley (2006) acknowledge findings that state that a dull and unchallenging elementary school curriculum demotivates bright students and slows down their progress. They therefore, end up ill equipped for middle and high school. Further, more researchers postulate that poor academic performance and underachievement can be attributed to mismatch between a student’s preferred learning style, their needs at a particular stage and the school environment.
This research is intended to establish whether there exists a correlation between learning styles, students’ preferences and their overall performance. The main research methods are literature review and surveys. Post-COVID learning has necessitated the use of online teaching for institutions that previously made use of the traditional physical teaching methods. Presently, some students find themselves obligated to take online lessons yet they initially preferred the traditional physical method. To find out whether learning styles affect the productivity, motivation and academic achievement of learners, I will collect data from university students; those taking full online courses as well as those taking physical classes and also those in a hybrid of physical and online classes. The participants must be enrolled in a university program at the time of data collection. Collection of these views will be by way of surveys and the participants will have the option of remaining anonymous. Before filling out the survey, the participants will give written consent authorizing the use of their answers in the development of the research. The findings will help in the development of better teaching strategies for improved academic outcomes.
After analyzing a couple of peer reviewed articles on learning abilities, learning styles and students’ abilities, I have established that there is a correlation between these and academic achievement. The next step will be the creation of surveys and distribution of the same to collect data on students’ preferences and perspectives on different teaching styles. I will then compile the findings and reach a conclusion on the most preferred and least preferred learning styles and why. The study will take place between 1st September 2021 and 30th September 2021.