At TLNet and TLNetkids we pride ourselves in being able to personalise courses to our students and this is why today we are going to talk about learning styles and find out more about it in a chat with our TLNetkids teacher Eva Wokan.
Learning styles represent a series of theories conceived by neuroscience aimed at identifying differences in the ways different individuals learn. The core principle underpinning these theories lies in classifying individuals in different categories: these have been expressed as ‘’Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist’’ in Peter Honey and Alan Mumford’s model or ‘’Accommodator, Converger, Diverger and Assimilator’’ by David Kolb, but there are more.
If we were able to identify our learning style or even our children’s, learning could become a much easier business and we could be guaranteed much higher chances of success. The criticism that learning styles theory has been receiving is based indeed on this point. Classifying individuals into one category could prove to be an unrealistic goal for starters, secondly, the lack of evidence supported by neuroscientific analysis on this topic raises some doubts.
What strategy do you use in choosing your teaching method?
In my career I have always tried to apply different educational psychologists methods and theories to the various situations I came across in my classrooms especially with different students showing different abilities. That being said, as an educator I feel the responsibility to address the needs of the students and use methods that work for individuals and groups, which in my opinion is done through applying various different methods to figure out which one works and supports learning.
Is it possible to group individuals in different categories, i.e. learning styles?
Whenever we try to do this there will always be someone who would benefit from something more or sometimes less. One good example that comes to mind was teaching reading through “Whole Language” and NO phonics: that practice went on for about 10+ years until it was found that it was also important to include phonetical instructions. So there may not be neurological evidence to support teaching to different learning styles but through my experience I know there are times when visual aids (flash cards), kinaesthetic movement(Simon Says and Head shoulders Knees and Toes), and auditory materials(songs) have helped my students in learning English as a second language.