How People Learn V.2 (Individual Differences)

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Learning Styles: Research and
Practical Implications for
Veterinary Educators
Jared Danielson
University of Minnesota
5-31-2013
Everybody Needs
• Respect for the inherent limitations of human
cognitive processing
• Opportunities for meaningful practice
• Effective feedback
But students are all different
And our teaching should reflect and
respect those differences (?)
One way to think about learners learning styles
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
convergers versus divergers
verbalisers versus imagers
holists versus serialists
deep versus surface learning
activists versus reflectors
pragmatists versus theorists
adaptors versus innovators
Etc. . .
Instruction should account for learning
styles.
1. Completely Agree
2. Somewhat Agree
3. Neither Agree nor
Disagree
4. Somewhat Disagree
5. Completely Disagree
100%
1.
0%
0%
2.
3.
0%
0%
4.
5.
Blood Types - Assumptions
• Well-defined and identifiable blood types
exist
• We can measure blood type reliably.
• Measured blood type actually reflects what is
found in the donor/patient.
• Matching donor and recipient blood type has
practical importance.
A belief in the importance of learning
styles requires the following similar
assumptions:
1. Well defined and identifiable
learning styles exist
Kinesthetic
Visual
Diverger/serialist/analytic/
field dependent
Auditory
Converger/wholist/holist/
field independent
2. We can measure learning styles reliably
Kinesthetic!
3. Learning style preference reflects
actual ability.
I like listening!
I learn well by
listening!
4. Matching learning style with
instructional strategy will improve
learning.
I read to them
because they
are auditory
learners!
Assumption 1: Well defined and
identifiable learning styles exist
Kinesthetic
Visual
Diverger/serialist/analytic/
field dependent
Auditory
Converger/wholist/holist/
field independent
71+ Learning Styles Inventories
30 dichotomies of Learning Styles
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
convergers versus divergers
verbalisers versus imagers
holists versus serialists
deep versus surface learning
activists versus reflectors
pragmatists versus theorists
adaptors versus innovators
assimilators versus explorers
field dependent versus field
independent
globalists versus analysts
assimilators versus
accommodators
imaginative versus analytic
learners
non-committers versus
plungers
common-sense versus
dynamic learners
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
concrete versus abstract
•
learners
random versus sequential
learners
•
initiators versus reasoners
intuitionists versus analysts
extroverts versus introverts
sensing versus intuition
thinking versus feeling
judging versus perceiving
left brainers versus right
brainers
meaning-directed versus
undirected
theorists versus
humanitarians
activists versus theorists
pragmatists versus reflectors
organisers versus innovators
lefts/analytics/inductives/suc
cessive processors versus
rights/globals/deductives/sim
ultaneous processors
executive, hierarchic,
conservative versus
legislative, anarchic, liberal.
- (p. 136)
Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, Ecclestone K. Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic and
critical review. LSRC reference. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre, 2004.
Globalists
Convergers
Activists
Vs. .
?
Question 2: Can we measure learning
styles reliably?
Kinesthetic!
Of 13 popular learning styles models
reviewed by Coffield et al . . .
• Five consistently demonstrated internal
consistency. (8 didn’t)
• Seven consistently demonstrated test-retest
reliability. (6 didn’t)
Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, Ecclestone K. Learning styles and pedagogy in
post-16 learning: A systematic and critical review. LSRC reference. London:
Learning and Skills Research Centre, 2004.
Question 3: Does learning style
preference reflect actual ability?
I like listening!
I learn well by
listening!
I.e. Do people know their strengths?
Let’s Suppose
• I give you all a learning styles inventory
(visualizers versus verbalizers)
apple
• I give you all a test that indicates whether you
are skilled at perceiving/manipulating visual
information (high spatial ability), or not.
What will happen?
1.
2.
3.
High spatial ability = visualizer
Low spatial ability = verbalizer
High spatial ability = verbalizer
Low spatial ability = visualizer
No relationship
50%
50%
0%
1.
2.
3.
3 related experiments: A computer based lesson about electronics
Experiment 3 - Students chose either:
Help Screens with
Illustrations
Help Screens with Text
Or
Apple
Dependent Measures:
• General achievement
• Spatial ability (card rotations, paper folding, and verbal-spatial ability
tests)
• Learning preference (Visualizer vs. verbalizer)
• Cognitive style (The process they chose to use to learn.)
Massa LJ, Mayer RE. Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizer-visualizer cognitive
style? Learning and Individual Differences 16:321-335, 2006.
Results
• People who reported themselves as visualizers
relied more on pictorial than verbal help.
• People who reported themselves as
verbalizers tended to rely more on verbal than
pictorial help.
• There was no significant relationship between
spatial ability and the process used to learn
(cognitive style).
Massa LJ, Mayer RE. Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizervisualizer cognitive style? Learning and Individual Differences 16:321-335, 2006.
Question 4. Does matching learning
style with instructional strategy
improve learning?
I read to them
because they
are auditory
learners!
Let’s suppose
• We measure a group’s learning style in terms of
whether they are visualizers or verbalizers.
• We randomly assign half of the group to receive
instruction primarily through visual means, and the
other half to receive the same instruction verbally.
Group 1: Help
Screens with
Illustrations
Group 2: Help
Screens with Text
Apple
• We test to see how well the learners remember what
they learned.
What will happen?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Verbalizers = verbal stimuli;
visualizers = visual stimuli.
Verbalizers = visual stimuli;
visualizers = verbal stimuli.
Everyone = visual stimuli.
Everyone = verbal stimuli.
It won’t make any difference.
50%
1.
50%
0%
0%
2.
3.
0%
4.
5.
Result
The group receiving visual help screens always
outperformed the group using verbal help
screens.
Group 2: Didn’t
learn as well
Group 1: Learned
Better
Apple
(In other words, both visualizers and verbalizers
benefitted more from pictorial than verbal help.)
Another Study - Learning lists of
objects
Intervention 1 Line Drawings
Intervention 2 - Line
Drawings plus audio
Intervention 3 - Just
Audio
Pencil.
Lamp.
...
Preference/Strength was measured using the VVQ (Kirby’s Visualizer-Verbalizer
Questionnaire).
Pencil.
Lamp.
...
Outcome
Pencil
Lamp
=
>
Pencil
Lamp
• The visual or visual plus auditory instruction produced
the best learning gains for all groups, including those
who were identified as being verbalizers.
• Those scoring higher on the verbal scale did better
with the visual condition. Performance on the
visualizer scale did not correlate with any of the
experimental tasks.
Constantinidou F, Baker S. Stimulus modality and verbal learning performance in normal
aging. Brain and Language 82:296-311, 2002.
Another Study - Different Learning
Styles Inventory
Honey and Mumford Learning Styles
Questionnaire (LSQ)
• Honey and Mumford’s Typology
of learners:
– Activist (prefers doing and
experiencing)
– Reflector (observes and reflects)
– Theorist (wants to understand
underlying ideas, reasons,
concepts, etc.)
– Pragmatist (likes to try things out
and see if they work.)
http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm
Let’s Suppose
In an entire curricular program, content is
taught in a number of ways:
Reflection/Observation
(Reflector)
Concrete
experience
(Activist)
Abstract Concept visualization
(Theorist)
Active
Experimentation
(Pragmatist)
Will those who score high on a given learning
style also remember content better when it is
taught in a way that matches that style?
What will happen?
1.
2.
3.
Better scores with matching
Better scores without matching
It won’t make any difference
50%
50%
0%
1.
2.
3.
Ninety-nine students in a Human
Resource Management Program.
Students took the LSQ once at the end
of their first year, and once at the end
of their third year.
Kappe FR, Boekholt L, den Rooyen C, Van der Flier H. A predictive validity study of the Learning Style Questionnaire
(LSQ) using multiple, specific learning criteria. Learning and Individual Differences 19:464-467, 2009.
Researchers
Hypothesized
Scores
were obtained
for each student
for 1. classroom lectures,
2. skills
Reflection/Observation
(Reflector)
training,= High
3. ongroup
projects, 4. on-thethe
= High scores on
job and
measures showing
job training,
and 5. a written thesis.
practical skills
attentiveness to
training scores
lecture material
Concrete of the correlations between
None
experience
(Activist)
learning
styles and criterion measures
= High on measures of
how well students worked
were significant.
in groups to develop
Active
Experimentation
(Pragmatist)
programs meeting
practical business needs
How about Serialist/Holist (Field
Dependent Vs. Field Independent)?
- Learn one thing at a time before linking them
Diverger/serialist/analytic/
field dependent
- Get the big picture first, then learn the details
Converger/wholist/holist/
field independent
One example of a measure
of field dependence/field
indepence. (The Goup
Embedded Figures Test Otman, Raskin and Witkin)
73 Post Graduate Students
Riding’s Cognitive Styles Analysis (CSA) was used to measure the
wholistic/analytic dimension. (Wholistic/Analytic dimensions
were considered by the authors to be similar to field
dependence/independence.)
Two Instructional Interventions for
teaching HTML
Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
• Intro
• Detail
• More Detail
Topic 1
• Intro
Topic 2
• Intro
• Intro
• Detail
• More Detail
Topic 3
• Intro
• Intro
• Detail
• More Detail
Depth First (Good for
analytic/field independent
learners?)
Topic 1
• Detail
Topic 2
• Detail
Topic 3
• Detail
Breadth First (Good for
wholistic/field
dependent learners?)
What will happen?
1.
2.
3.
Students will do better when the
learning presentation matches
their cognitive style.
Students will do better when the
learning presentation doesn’t
match the cognitive style.
It won’t make any difference.
0%
1.
0%
2.
0%
3.
The researchers found that those who learned
the most were also those for whom the
learning style was matched to the instructional
strategy.
Ford N, Chen SY. Matching/mismatching revisited: an empirical study of learning and teaching styles. British
Journal of Educational Technology 32(1):5-22, 2001.
The Bottom Line . . .
“ . . . the difficulty in substantiating the
validity of the styles, as well as the
apparent free-wheeling generation and
application of these styles to any and all
situations, leads us to recommend
viewing learning styles with extreme
caution. While information about an
individual’s learning style may be helpful
to that individual in regulating his own
learning within a learning situation,
typically this information is not
sufficiently prescriptive to aid
instructional designers in making design
decisions.” Smith and Ragan, p. 63
Similarly . . .
“In the current state of research-based knowledge
about learning styles, there are real dangers in
commending detailed strategies to practitioners,
because the theories and instruments are not
equally useful and because there is no consensus
about the recommendations for practice . . . In sum,
clear, simple, but unfounded messages for
practitioners and managers have too often been
distilled from a highly contested field of research.”
(Coffield, Moseley, Hall and Ecclestone p. 118)
In Medical Education
“. . . Of 65 analyses reported in 48 studies, only 9
analyses (14%) showed significant interactions
between CLS and instructional approach. It
seems that aptitude–treatment interactions
with CLSs are at best infrequent and small in
magnitude. . .”
Cook DA. Revisiting cognitive and learning styles in computer-assisted instruction: not
so useful after all. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical
Colleges 87(6):778-784, 2012
Finally . . .
The contrast between the enormous popularity
of the learning-styles approach within education
and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is,
in our opinion, striking and disturbing. If
classification of students’ learning styles has
practical utility, it remains to be
demonstrated.” (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and
Bjork - p. 117)
What to do?
1. Read the Label
This is an area in which insufficiently informed application could result in lost
time and effort.
2. Focus on Proven Strategies
• There is a lot published about strategies.
• A good fit between strategy and learning task
is more important than a fit between learning
task and learner characteristics.
Haptic Cow (Kinnison and Baillie (accessed
2012), Lifelong Independent Veterinary
Education)
http://www.live.ac.uk/html/projects_haptic_01.html
There are Many Proven Strategies
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Feedback
Testing
A positive classroom environment
Providing for meaningful deliberate practice
Various forms of group interaction
Curricular alignment (vertical and horizontal)
etc . . .
In veterinary medical education, I
suggest focusing learner analysis on:
• Prior Knowledge
• Prior Knowledge
• Prior Knowledge
In Summary
• Read the Label
• Focus on Proven Teaching Strategies
• Consider focusing on other more easily
measured and practical learner characteristics,
such as prior knowledge.
References
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Smith PL, Ragan TJ. Instructional Design. 3rd ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
Witkin HA, Moore CA, Goodenough DR, Cox PW. Field-dependent and field-independent cognitive styles
and their educational implications. Review of Educational Research 47:1-64, 1977.
Klein GS. Perception, motives and personality. New York: Knopf, 1970.
Santostephano SG. A biodevelopmental approach to clinical child psychology. New York: Wiley, 1978.
Kagan J. Reflection-impulsivity: The generality and dynamics of conceptual tempo. Journal of Abnormal
Psychology 71:17-24, 1966.
Lowenfeld V, Brittain WL. Creative and mental growth. New York: Macmillan, 1970.
Pashler H, McDaniel M, Rohrer D, Bjork R. Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in
the Public Interest 9(3):105-119, 2009.
Coffield F, Moseley D, Hall E, Ecclestone K. Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic
and critical review. LSRC reference. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre, 2004.
Ford N, Chen SY. Matching/mismatching revisited: an empirical study of learning and teaching styles.
British Journal of Educational Technology 32(1):5-22, 2001.
Massa LJ, Mayer RE. Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizervisualizer cognitive style? Learning and Individual Differences 16:321-335, 2006.
Constantinidou F, Baker S. Stimulus modality and verbal learning performance in normal aging. Brain and
Language 82:296-311, 2002.
Kappe FR, Boekholt L, den Rooyen C, Van der Flier H. A predictive validity study of the Learning Style
Questionnaire (LSQ) using multiple, specific learning criteria. Learning and Individual Differences 19:464467, 2009.
Cook DA. Revisiting cognitive and learning styles in computer-assisted instruction: not so useful after all.
Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 87(6):778-784, 2012.
Jared Danielson
[email protected]

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