What is the utility of knowing the 4 preferences, do we need to incorporate this knowledge anywhere in our instructional system design? How can we identify these preferences of our learner?
The Role of Adult Learning Theories in Designing Instruction
1. Relating the design of material to the
differences in the way adults learn;
2. Explaining why training is designed as it is;
3. Enabling Instructional Designer to ensure that
the design meets the needs of learners; and
4. Outlining how learning theory influences
knowledge, acquisition, retention, and finally
application of information.
David Kolb is an American educational theorist, who created a learning style inventory as part of his work in experiential learning, His research relates learning styles to Jung’s personality types.
According to Kolb’s model, learning occurs when individuals engage in some activity, reflect upon this activity critically, derive some useful insight from the analysis, and incorporate the result through a change in either understanding or behavior. Kolb also concluded that learning does not require a teacher to be a part of the experience.
Building upon earlier work by John Dewey and Kurt Levin, David A. Kolb presented a cyclical model of learning. This model consists of the following four stages:
•concrete experience (doing)
•reflective observation (observing)
•abstract conceptualization (thinking)
•active experimentation (planning)
Kolb’s four-stage learning cycle shows how experience is translated through reflection into concepts. These concepts are used as guides for active experimentation and the choice of new experiences. The first stage, concrete experience, is where the learner actively experiences an activity such as a lab session. The second stage, reflective observation is when the learner reflects back on that experience. The third stage, abstract conceptualization, is where the learner tries to conceptualize a theory or model of what he observed. The fourth stage, active experimentation, is where the learner is planning to test a plan for a forthcoming experience.
Kolb identified four learning styles of learning. These styles are:
• Assimilators. These learners learn better when from logical theories.
• Convergers. These learners learn better from practical applications of concepts and
• Accommodators. These learners better from “hands-on” experiences.
• Divergers. These learners prefer to be allowed to observe and collect a wide range of
Modes of brain function:
The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument is a method of personality testing developed by W. E. Herrmann. It divides learners in terms of preferences for thinking in four different modes based on brain function.
These four preferences are:
• Left brain, cerebral: logical, analytical, quantitative, factual, critical
• Left brain, limbic: sequential, organized, planned, detailed, structured
• Right brain, limbic: emotional, interpersonal, sensory, kinesthetic, symbolic
• Right brain, cerebral: visual, holistic, creative
Howard Gardner, from Harvard University, believes that intelligence is more multifaceted than has been thought. He also believes that traditional measures, such as IQ tests don’t measure all its facets.
In his book titled: "Frames of Mind," Gardner describes his initial list of intelligences. Later, he added three additional intelligences to his list and said he expected the list to continue to grow.
Howard Gardner listed the following intelligences:
• Interpersonal: aptitude for working with other people
• Logical/Mathematical: aptitude for math and logic
• Spatial/visual: aptitude for picturing things
• Musical: aptitude for musical expression
• Linguistic/Verbal: aptitude for the written and spoken word
• Intrapersonal: aptitude for working alone
• Bodily/Kinesthetic: aptitude for being physical
• Emotional: aptitude for identifying emotions
• Naturalistic: aptitude for being with nature
• Existential: aptitude for understanding one’s purpose.
Gardner believes that most people are comfortable in no more than four of these intelligences and avoid the others. For example, for learners who aren’t comfortable working with others, participating in group activities might hinder learning. Also, Lectures are not good for people with linguistic aptitudes.
Behaviorists are concerned with discovering the relationship between stimuli and responses to predict and control behavior. The approach is based on the belief that learning occurs primarily through the reinforcement of desired responses. B.F. Skinner, an American behaviorist, was extremely interested in learning processes. He used reinforcement to successfully teach pigeons to bowl. If a pigeon moved the ball toward the pins, it got a piece of grain. If it couldn't do it, it didn’t get a piece of grain.
He applied his findings to human learning using a technique called programmed learning. In this technique, the information that needs to be learned is broken
down into small steps. At each step, a single new idea is introduced. Learners respond to each step by answering a question or completing a sentence. The instructor immediately tells the learner whether the answer is right or wrong.
Some techniques of behaviorism include: modeling, simulations, role play, skill drills, and positive reinforcement.
The cognitive approach is an academic approach based on the principle that learning occurs through exposure to
logically presented information. Cognitive psychologists are interested in the organization of memory and thinking. For cognitive scientists focus on more internal processes. For example, problem solving, and comprehension. The most important strategies that Instructional Systems Designers adapt from the cognitive approach is making a distinction
between novices and experts. Cognitivism is the “tell” approach to learning, which is mostly focused on lectures.
The techniques of cognitivism include: Interviews with Subject Matter experts (SMEs), class presentations, readings, and case studies.
Constructivists focus on how learners internalize what they have learned. Jean Piaget is considered a key exponent of the Constructivism theory of learning. According to Piaget, learners construct knowledge from accommodation and assimilation.
When people assimilate, they incorporate the new experience into an already existing framework without changing that framework.
According to this theory on the other hand, accommodation is the process of reframing people's mental representation of the external world to fit new experiences.
Constructivists focus on the individual learner. They want information about individual needs. According to the constructivists perspective, learners should be more responsible for learning than instructors. Learners are motivated to learn only when they believe they can be successful.
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