The effect of learning styles on education and the teaching process.

Author:Kazu, Ibrahim Yasar


Before examining the learning styles and models, it is necessary to explain "What is the key concept in learning style?" and "What does style mean?" Style is a concept used in the fields of fashion, art, sports and media ... From this point of view, individual's preferences are central. When this concept is considered in educational content, it is seen that every student has his/her own learning style. These differences (personality, perception, ability, intelligence) affect students' motivation and attitudes towards the lessons. As a result, these differences affect the effectiveness of the lesson. Beside those, the student's gender, intelligence and personal characteristics influence the learning style as well (1). As the learning style is related to individual characteristics and preferences, learning styles reflect the students' preferences on how they perceive the environment, interact with this environment, react and experience learning in this process. When individual learning styles are determined, both the kind of the teaching environment they need to be in and the way to precisely determine the issues to be learned inside and outside of the class may be raised (3). When the lessons are taught by taking into consideration the individuals' learning styles; their interests and successes increase considerably. What is important here is that learning styles are neither better nor worse than each other. If a teacher keeps this matter in mind, s/he can turn this difference into an advantage. To achieve this purpose, studies have been conducted over the past 40 years. In this regard, after emphasizing the concept of learning style, this study examined the conceptual and applied researches that can explain the effects of learning styles on the processes of education and learning. These studies are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Different learning styles and some basic variables Person Year Description Basic variables Keefe 1979 Learning styles are Some research, has handled cognitive, affective and the learning styles as a psychological specific learning manner, characteristics that personal and learners use as constant distinguishing determinants to some characteristic show how extent in their the student will begin to perception, interaction act and how s/he will and reaction behave in the learning styles (21), (41) environment. Learning style is different and distinct for each student. Learning style is defined as the total of the learner's characteristics according to the generating in the origin of the individual differences in learning environment. Dunn and 1993 Learning style is a way of Dunn getting and processing the knowledge starting with the learners' dealing with new and difficult information Dunn and 1978 Learning style is Dunn comprised of eighteen elements which are designed according to four basic stimuli having relations with the person's adequacy in assimilating and acquiring a subject. The coherence and variation of these components show that few people learn in the same way Keefe 1987 Learning style is all of the cognitive, affective and psychological characteristics which reflect the individual's perceptions on his/her environment Reinert 1976 The learning style of an Learning style is a kind individual is the style of inner program that s/he aims at learning shapes our behavior. This actively, it is the style program differs from one which the individual uses person to another and it and develops ways to take takes individuality into in, retain the new account. information, put it for later use (24). Entwistle 1981 Learning style is the Those four tendency to absorb a terms(temperament, general special strategy. education, general tendency, harmony) affect the consistency and the coherence in meaningful amount Kolb 1984 Learning styles are measured by a self-announced scale, known as LSI and LSI. Differences in learning ways are based on the four kinds of learning processes in relation to each other. Schmeck 1983 Learning style is a student's own tendency to absorb a special learning strategy independent from the environment (10) Della-Dora 1979 Learning style is a Some research suggests and personal and preferred way that the individual's Blanchard in assimilating the tendency to act in a knowledge and the specific way can be experience in the learning counted as "preferences" situation independent from which are highly related the context (45). to the differences of individuals. Jonassen 1993 Learning styles consist of and the learner's preferences Grabowski in different educational and instructional activities. These are the general tendencies which are preferred in processing data in different ways (42). Legendre 1998 Learning style is the person's style in learning, solving a problem, thinking and the style s/he likes reacting in within an educational situation (30). Felder and 1988 Learning style is the Silverman characteristic difficulties and preferences in the process of an individual's acquiring knowledge, holding and processing it. Table 1 is based on a classification made by analyzing the variables used by different authors in defining learning styles. Selected authors are grouped according to years as well as the similarities of the variables they used.

McCarthy (4) described "learning styles" as the individual's perception and use of the knowledge." McCarthy takes the fundamental of the learning style model from Kolb's learning style. McCarthy categorizes learning styles into four groups. The learners of the first group are the imaginative learners, of the second group are the analytical learners, of the third group are the common sense learners and the forth group are the dynamic learners (4).

According to Kaplan and Kies (11), the learning style is an inborn characteristic which does not easily change during the lifetime, but can change and be developed during the life of the individual through the experiences. This affects the individual while walking, lying, sitting, speaking, playing and writing. Actions are made according to these characteristics (12). Besides this, learning style has an important place in learning how to study (13).

Grasha (14) developed another model based on the importance of preferences in learning. He describes "learning style" as the collective experience of learning during the process of gaining knowledge (15). Gregorc thinks that being aware of yourself helps in determining your real learning style.

According to Butler (17) who is much influenced by Gregorc, learning style is a general concept which highlights the learning differences like the quality of an umbrella. Every individual has a different style. This can be in clothes worn, the music listened and the colors selected by and the friends and social groups of the individuals. Those different individual styles help the individual to identify a learning style.

According to Allport (18), learning style is defined as perception, thought, remembering or problem-solving of the individual in the way that s/he is used to do. It is assumed that these definitions include cognitive processes and the individuals use the learning style that they are used to (19). Allport, in his study of learning styles, used the style concept in 1930 and then in 1961. He also concentrated on the individual differences among students (20).

Learning style according to Keefe: By taking advanced cognitive processes, Keefe has explained lasting cognitive, affective and physiological characteristics after researching how the student perceived the environment and how s/he interacted with his/her learning environment. He has also stated that the individual with these aforementioned style characteristics is under the influence of the genetic code, personal development and strong environmental adaptation. According to him, learning styles has cognitive, affective and environmental aspects (21).

Kolb's learning style: Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory constitutes the basis of the Kolb learning style model. Experiential learning which differs from other cognitive learning theories explores the use of experiences in the learning process (22). With this start, he has developed his studies following on Lewin's experiential learning theory. As a result, a learning style model has been developed. Kolb defines learning as the process of being in harmony with the social and physical...

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