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Visions of Adonai Designs

University and College Educators

Feature Article

Learning Styles in Higher Education

Dateline: 03/20/99

Learning styles has become a buzz word at all levels of education over the past decade or two. Research on this individualized approach to learning has both supported and rejected Learning Styles as a meaningful approach to teaching both children and adults. Promoters of this perspective believe that learners process information and knowledge more efficiently if given the opportunity to use their preferred methods of learning within the educational environment.

The variety of learning styles taxonomies available further complicate yet enrich the study of this perspective on educational transference. The most renowned and extensively studied taxonomy is not labeled as a learning styles taxonomy per se, but as Multiple Intelligences, the model introduced by Howard Gardner, from Harvard University. A basic overview of the first seven of Gardner's Intelligences can be viewed at SCBE's Multiple Intelligence Theory website, published by the Simcoe County District School Board. Another site, Theory Into Practice (TIP) an extensive database compiled by Greg Kearsley, offers an alternate explanation of Gardner's work for higher education faculty.

An introduction to Gardner's new eighth intelligence, the naturalist style, can be viewed at the Zephyr Press website through a 1998 interview with Gardner, written by Ronnie Durie, the editor of Mindshift Connection. An earlier interview with Gardner in 1997 which focuses on all eight intelligences can be read at Educational Leadership online, written by Kathy Checkley.

A very interesting java chart can be viewed at Exploring Multiple Intelligences developed by Clifford Morris, who illustrated the relationship of Multiple Intelligences with the locus of control and the intellectual - affective continuum.

The second major taxonomy used by many faculty to introduce their students to learning styles and personality type, is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. This taxonomy was developed by Isabelle Myers-Briggs and her mother Katherine Briggs based on Carl Jung's theory of personality type. An official website for the MBTI can be found at the website of the Association for Psychological Type. You can also learn more about the MBTI at the GSU Master Teacher Program On Learning Styles written by Harvey J. Brightman, of Georgia State University. Or visit Matters of Style for a brief MBTI overview.

The DVC learning styles taxonomy includes three of the same indicators shown in Gardner's theory, namely visual, verbal and kinesthetic as well as a fourth: tactile learners. You can explore the survey used to test learning styles using this taxonomy at The DVC Learning Style Survey site and read about the styles at The Four Learning Style Categories in the DVC.

These three taxonomies are just a sampling of the many learning style theories available. For more information on alternate models for learning style assessment go to the following websites:

Learning Modalities, Styles and Strategies, a comprehensive site from Edstyle, offering an introduction to seven kinds of learning style assessment guides as well as tools to test other learning factors.

Learning on the Internet: Learning Styles from Algonquin College illustrates Kolb's Learning Style taxonomy, while the Index of Learning Styles website by Barbara A. Soloman and Richard M. Felder of North Carolina State University introduces the ILS inventory.

Learning styles continue to be a controversial topic for educators at all levels of the continuum. Whether you consider them when planning your curriculum is usually a personal choice. Getting informed about the theory is the first step. Dialoguing with peers about their experiences is a logical progression. Join us in our Higher Ed Dialogue room to share your views and experiences with other educators exploring this new buzz on the education circuit.

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