Styles of Learning essay
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Pedagogy originated from the Greek word "paidagogos", comprising of two parts; "paidos" (child) and "agogos" (leader) (Larsen, 2009.p.323). Thus Pedagogy was literally meant to refer to the art/science of teaching children. Generally, the term pedagogy is applied to mean the art of teaching. However, scholars have made use of "pedagogy" to imply "teaching children or the teacher/subject based instruction" and "andragogy" to imply "teaching adults or student/directed instruction". Put simply therefore, pedagogy describes ways through which teachers/instructors try to ensure they exploit the best possibilities of acumen and induce learners to love the learning process. This is also known as the "meshing hypothesis" (Larsen, 2009.p.323).
"Critical pedagogy" is a term that was developed fro the philosophy of education and was put forward by Henry Giroux to refer to a passion and principle guided educational movement aimed at helping students to build up freedom consciousness, identify dictatorial inclinations, and connect Knowledge to both power and constructive action competences (Giroux, 2010).
Since individuals possess different physical, social, and cognitive competences at different ages, different pedagogical methods are utilized depending on age groups. Pedagogy method used for children aged 4 years may not be appropriate for teenage group. Thus pedagogy for adults has to be different from that of the teenage group. This explains why educators have categorized learning into stages such as; pre-school, elementary school, middle school and High school, colleges, and Universities (McCaffery et al, 2007.p.226).
Each level of education has unique pedagogical techniques that are suitable and important in providing a good teaching/learning environment. At elementary school level for example, the pupils are introduced to basic mathematics, reading and writing skills. In most cases, educators at this level deploy traditional pedagogical methods of teacher-directed learning.
For adult learners on the other hand, educators give attention to both knowledge provision and management of potential predispositions and susceptible feelings from the adult learners. In adult learning, academic material provision is based on students' real life experiences primarily to generate a relevant connection between the students and the materials. In most cases, adult learners will find distance learning or online mode of learning more time saving and convenient in terms of fitting into their busy schedules rather than availing themselves physically for classes. Other learning methods (material delivery methods) which best suit adults include; lesson teachings, lectures, audio/video demonstrations and conferencing, live/recorded presentations, group-led/tutor-led discussions, brainstorming discussions, simulations, role play and forum messaging among others (McCaffery et al, 2007.p.226).
In the next section, this paper highlights by way of comparison, three different learning models; David Kolb's model, Honey and Mumford's model, and Fleming's VAK/VARK model.
To begin with, Kolb's learning model was developed from the theory of experiential learning discussed in Kolb's book "Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (1984)" (Sommefeldt, 2002.p.195). Kolb's model is at times abbreviated as ELT (Experiential Learning Theory) model and is made up of two experience grasping approaches; Concrete Experience approach and Abstract Conceptualization approach. The ELT model also has two experience transforming approaches; Reflective Observation approach and Active Experimentation approach. Kolb argued that all the four approaches above must be engaged by any ideal process of learning in order to react effectively to circumstantial demands. While trying to utilize all the four approaches, individuals tend to become stronger in "one experience-grasping and one experience-transforming approach" which results into personal blends of favorite approaches to learning styles as follows; Converger learning styles, Diverger learning styles, Assimilator learning styles, and Accommodator learning styles (Sommefeldt, 2002.p.195).
The Converger learning style exhibits abstract conceptualization and active experimentation and provides a practical ideological application and deductive reasoning approach to problem solving. The Divergers are inclined towards use of concrete experience and reflective observation hence makes use of imagination, innovation and different perspective analysis of ideas. The Assimilators exhibit abstract conceptualization and reflective observation thus they generate theoretical frameworks through inductive reasoning. The Accommodators utilize concrete experience and active experimentation and are known to actively take part in events as opposed to reading about them (Sadler-Smith, & Carol, E, 2006.p.115).
Next is the Honey and Mumford's model which was basically developed by adapting Kolb's model for use by middle/senior managers in trade. Peter Honey and Alan Mumford modified Kolb's model in two steps to come up with their new version as explained in The Manual of Learning Styles (1982) and Using Your Learning Styles (1983) (Rae, 1997.p.65).
The first step was to rename the stages in Kolb's cycle so as to match them with problem/solving experiences of managers in business. The new stages were named, "Having experience, Reviewing experience, Concluding experience, and planning the next step" respectively (Rae, 1997.p.65).
The second step was to make a direct alignment of the styles to the four cycle stages to become; "Activist, Reflector, Theorist, and Pragmatist" respectively. As opposed to being pegged on character personality, these four styles are developed by assumption, as preferences either willfully adapted or resulting from circumstantial dynamics. Therefore this learning style questionnaire (LSQ) model advanced by Honey and Mumford is different from Kolb's model since LSQ allows managers to make a self-review in line with work behaviors without questioning their way of learning (Harkin et al, 2001.p.42).
Finally, the Fleming's VARK model which is premised on Fleming's categorizing of learners as; visual learners (those who think in pictures or prefer learning through visual aids), auditory learners (those who learn best through listening), tactile/kinesthetic learners (those who prefer learning through movement, touch, and participation) (Gardner et al, 2007.p.44)
Teachers who use the VARK model make their classes in such a way as to adhere to the above needs. The learners also make use of the VARK model to develop their preferred styles of learning depending on relative benefits, to attain optimal educational experiences. Unlike Kolb's model which focus on personality or intelligence, and the Mumford model which relies on business managers' adapted preferences, VARK model demonstrates preference by learners to utilize their senses to learn (Gardner et al, 2007.p.44).