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LEARNING STYLES: KNOWLEDGE, ISSUES AND APPLICATIONS FOR CLASSROOM TEACHERS
Teachers have always known intuitively that people learn differently. But few teachers are familiar with the formal work in the area of "learning style" and "cognitive style" describing the different characteristic learning patterns among people. Formal research interest in this area began with German cognitive psychologists in the early 1900s, but it is only in the past two decades that research has proliferated and educators have become actively interested. Knowledge about learning styles is very important for elementary and secondary teachers especially in their efforts to individualize instruction. But, at present, the knowledge is extremely diverse, often untested and ultimately inaccessible to teachers. This work is an initial effort to critically examine the field for implication about learning styles for teachers. It analyzes the literature to identify appropriate information for teachers, presents this information as a set of guidelines, and suggests classroom applications. Learning style and cognitive style definitions are grouped into those that discuss cognitive processes; those that describe learner behaviors; and those that include both areas in a comprehensive definition. Cognitive processes defined by Witkin, Kagan, Reinert, and others, include perception, acquisition of knowledge and conceptualization. Learner behaviors as distinct patterns of student preferences are described by the Dunns, Rosenberg, Renzulli and Smith, and others. Gregorc, Hill, Kolb, and others define a person's learning style in a comprehensive way as the integration of both cognitive processes and learner behaviors. All agree that people have individual, characteristic patterns of learning which are pervasive and consistent and can be described as their styles. This work describes several specific kinds of learning styles, but suggests that choosing among the large number of labels currently used is not necessary for teachers nor essential for classroom applications. The work suggests five guidelines for classroom teachers: (1) People have different ways of learning which can be defined as their individual learning styles; (2) Learning style characteristics can be assessed and identified; (3) Learning style characteristics affect people in a variety of ways and many factors affect a person's learning style; (4) Learning style theory has important implications for classroom learning and instruction; (5) Teaching styles exist and affect learning styles and learning outcomes. This work suggests that teachers must consciously accommodate learning styles in the classroom through provisioning or a "style-flex" method. Formal matching of learning styles to instructional techniques and/or materials is discussed but not recommended. Examples are given to suggest directions for actions in the classroom. Although the field is still emerging and new ideas are added regularly, this work concludes that there is currently sufficient knowledge about learning styles to guide the classroom teacher.
GUILD, PATRICIA O'ROURKE BURKE, "LEARNING STYLES: KNOWLEDGE, ISSUES AND APPLICATIONS FOR CLASSROOM TEACHERS" (1980). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8019462.