Learning styles show how different people process and learn new information. Therefore, each person has more than one dominant learning style and in different settings uses a combination of them.
Learning strategies are a number of rules, methods and principles used to facilitate learning. The application of learning strategies leads to active learning, because it teaches you how to learn and how to successfully apply your learning. In order to obtain good learning results it is necessary to use number of combined learning strategies.
There are many theories that classify learning styles, the two most common are:
- The VARK model – explains that the learning process is based on four sensory stimuli: visual (graphic images), auditory (audio), read / write (symbols), kinetic (space, movement).
- The David Kolb model – is based on Experiential Learning Model which has four components: concrete experience (feeling/sensations), reflective observation (watching), abstract conceptualisation (thinking), active experimentation (doing).
The differences between the two models are given by the modalities in the learning process. VARK model focuses on the senses and the Kolb model focuses on the thinking. These two models are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary, they complete each other.
Identifying your own learning styles, or choosing the right approach for a particular learning area can be difficult. There are tests that help to identify learning styles and to choose optimal strategies. There are many people who have great capacity to learn, but do not achieve their potential because they do not know how to learn. By applying learning strategies they can increase their learning. People who apply the correct learning strategies will be able to understand different materials, organise (through encoding, structuring and extraction of information), memorise, summarise and extract material.
Choosing a learning strategy depends on the learning style and domain.
Learning begins with understanding new information and linking it with prior learned information. It continues with the creation of mentally structured representations, with coding and with organising new information. This helps to create flexible and active knowledge structures. Learning continues with the memorising of new information and then with repeating and evaluation of new acquisitions.
- selecting relevant information;
- establish the association between learned information and new learning;
- note-taking skills and highlight the main ideas;
- strategies for understanding written and reader texts;
- project design skills;
- graphical representations;
- reasoning (inductive, deductive);
- simulations and examples;
The purpose of applying learning strategies is that students will become independent learners and will be able to choose and apply a strategy or a combination of strategies appropriate to the learning context.
The role of the teacher is to assist students by steering them towards a strategy or a group of strategies where appropriate in a particular educational context.
INSERT Figure: Learning Steps
The following table presents the learning strategies appropriate for the learning styles VARK.
The following table shows appropriate learning strategies for Kolb model.