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Preceptor Workshop - Learning Styles


Overview of Learning Styles

Many people recognize that each person prefers different learning styles and techniques. Learning styles group common ways that people learn. Everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.

Using multiple learning styles and "multiple intelligences" for learning is a relatively new approach. This approach is one that educators have only recently started to recognize. Traditional schooling used (and continues to use) mainly linguistic and logical teaching methods. It also uses a limited range of learning and teaching techniques. Many schools still rely on classroom and book-based teaching, much repetition, and pressured exams for reinforcement and review. A result is that we often label those who use these learning styles and techniques as "bright." Those who use less favored learning styles often find themselves in lower classes, with various not-so-complimentary labels and sometimes lower quality teaching. This can create positive and negative spirals that reinforce the belief that one is "smart" or "dumb."

By recognizing and understanding your own learning styles, you can use techniques better suited to you. This improves the speed and quality of your learning. Consider your students' learning style when you have a teachable moment.

This may help the athletic training student "get it" and comprehend a given competency or clinical skill.

Why Learning Styles? Understand the basis of learning styles.

Your learning styles have more influence than you may realize. Your preferred styles guide the way you learn. They also change the way you internally represent experiences, the way you recall information, and even the words you choose. We explore more of these features in this chapter.

Research shows us that each learning style uses different parts of the brain. By involving more of the brain during learning, we remember more of what we learn. Researchers using brain-imaging technologies have been able to find out the key areas of the brain responsible for each learning style. For example:

  • Visual. The occipital lobes at the back of the brain manage the visual sense. Both the occipital and parietal lobes manage spatial orientation.
  • Aural. The temporal lobes handle aural content. The right temporal lobe is especially important for music.
  • Verbal. The temporal and frontal lobes, especially two specialized areas called Broca's and Wernicke's areas (in the left hemisphere of these two lobes).
  • Physical. The cerebellum and the motor cortex (at the back of the frontal lobe) handle much of our physical movement.
  • Logical. The parietal lobes, especially the left side, drive our logical thinking.
  • Social. The frontal and temporal lobes handle much of our social activities. The limbic system (not shown apart from the hippocampus) also influences both the social and solitary styles. The limbic system has a lot to do with emotions, moods and aggression.
  • Solitary. The frontal and parietal lobes, and the limbic system, are also active with this style.

This chart is adapted from Colin Rose(1987) Accelerated Learning and demonstrates some specific characteristics and behaviors that define a learning style. Each student at Union undergoes a learning style inventory which is retained in the student records. This chart helps you determine your learning style; read the word in the left column and then answer the questions in the successive three columns to see how you respond to each situation. Your answers may fall into all three columns, but one column will likely contain the most answers. The dominant column indicates your primary learning style.


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