Saturday, December 22, 2012

Course Reflection for Learning Theories and Instruction

Over the course of the past several weeks I have furthered my knowledge and challenged my perspectives on learning theories and learning styles. I have developed a greater understanding of how individuals learn and process information. I have also had the opportunity to reflect on my own learning which will ultimately affect the way I instruct or design a meaningful learning experience that seeks to meet the needs of the individual learners. I have also gained a better understanding of how the different learning theories and learning styles influence the use of technology and motivation in a learning experience. Having the opportunity to increase my knowledge on learning theories, strategies, and technology that we have explored in this course will overall help me to be more successful as I continue my career pursuits in instructional design.
During the course I further developed my understanding of how individuals process information and had the opportunity to challenge my perspectives on learning styles and learning strategies. Information that is processed by the learner affects how knowledge is stored and retrieved from the memory. The different learning theories provide an explanation of how memory is activated and how transfer occurs (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009). It was interesting to compare the differences in how the learning styles influence learning, memory, and transfer through the creation of our learning matrixes. While working on the learning theory matrix throughout the course and reflecting on the information on learning styles I found my previous held perspectives on learning styles challenged and further developed. Learning styles not only vary from person to person, but also differ depending on content and context (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). The style or method in which content is delivered to the learner may need to be modified depending on the content and the context in which the individual is learning. Although there may be a tendency to focus on the specific learning style that meets the learner’s needs it can also be beneficial to incorporate different learning styles or multiple intelligences to help the learner develop skills and challenge them to think and solve problems in different ways (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). I also learned learning strategies that might be a more effective approach when addressing the variances that exist from learner to learner rather than just focusing on differing learning styles (Laureate, 2009b). Learners may benefit from the use of elaboration, comprehension monitoring, and mnemonics which can be incorporated into the learning by instructor or designer (Laureate, 2009b).
            Reflecting on how others learn allowed me the opportunity to further examine my own learning styles or preferences. Through the use of the mind map to map our learning connections during week five of the course I was able to clearly see the connections and networks that exist that influence my learning. Technology plays a significant role as it is often times the starting point for accessing people or data to enhance my learning (Laureate, 2009a). Having an understanding of the role technology plays in my learning will help me to be more aware of the role it plays in learning for others. I also was able to further develop my knowledge on how I learn by examining adult learning theories. Adult learners are self-directed, draw from experience to serve as resource for learning, seek immediate application of knowledge, are motivated intrinsically, and need an understanding of the relevancy of the information or learning (Cercone, 2008). As an adult learner I take an active role in my learning and need to be mindful of employing different strategies that can enhance my learning when perhaps a learning experience may not be meeting all of my needs. Additionally through metacognition I can monitor my comprehension and assess my progress as I am learning (Laureate, 2009b).
There are many factors that influence the learning process. Learning theories, learning styles, technology, and motivation come together to inform a more comprehensive approach to creating a meaningful learning experience (Muniandy, Mohammad, & Fong, 2007). Each learning theory may be fundamentally different, but they all provide foundational information that can guide instruction. Kapp (2006) suggests a more blended approach to the use of learning theories. Different learning theories and learning styles may not always or necessarily be utilized simultaneously, but a particular lesson may incorporate the use of different learning theories and learning styles to motivate the learner depending on the activities taking place or the learning goal. Additionally the different learning theories and learning styles can also help to inform on how to successfully incorporate technology in a lesson or activity that will aid in maintaining the motivation of the learner.
Creating a meaningful learning experience requires a thorough analysis of the characteristics of the learner, the content to be delivered, the context in which the learning is taking place, the educational goals, and the methods or technologies that will be used to deliver the knowledge (Culatta, 2011). Having a strong understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles will help me make sound decisions when creating a learning experience that is engaging and meets the needs of all of the learners in a course. I also will be able to use the knowledge that I have gained from this course to effectively incorporate technology in order to make the content more enriching an interactive so that the learner can feel connected to the learning and motivated by the content.
Theories on learning and technology will continue to advance and evolve. As new technologies emerge and ideas on best practice for learning theories evolve it will be important continually reflect on the knowledge and skills I have gained from this course. Additionally I will need to stay connected with other practitioners in the field of instructional design by accessing the professional networks available through blogs or wikis so that I can stay well-informed of new ideas and new technologies.
Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design.
AACE Journal, 16(2), 137–159. Retrieved  November 24, 2012 from   
Culatta, R. (2011). ADDIE model. Retrieved December 22, 2012, from
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning
Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved December 1, 2012 from
Kapp, K. (2006, December 21). Design: Behaviorism has it’s place. [Blog message]. Retrieved 
November 11, 2012 from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009a) Connectivism [Video webcast] [with George
Siemens] Retrieved from Walden University.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009b) Learning styles and strategies [Video webcast]
[with Dr. Jeanne Ormrod] Retrieved from Walden University.
Muniandy, B., Mohammad, R. & Fong, S. (2007). Synergizing pedagogy, learning theory, and
technology in instruction: How can it be done? US China Education Review, 4(9), 46–53.
Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate
Custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fitting the Pieces Together

During first week of the course on learning theories and instruction we were asked to reflect on and discuss our methods of learning and perspectives on learning theories. The perspectives that I held at that point were influenced by my previous undergraduate course work in secondary education. The emphasis on learning styles and multiple intelligences has always played a significant role in how I have approached learning and instruction in the past. The resources and discussions with my fellow classmates and professor during the last several weeks have challenged my previously held perspectives and have widened my view on learning theories in terms of instruction as well as for my own learning.
Everyone has the capacity to possess all of the multiple intelligences or different learning styles (Armstrong, 2000). There are however different factors that may contribute to an individual possessing a greater or decreased capacity in particular intelligences versus others. Some of these factors include cultural influences, personal experiences, or biological influences (Armstrong, 2000). I recognize different factors that have influenced my perspective on having a greater capacity or preference to my learning in the past. Reflecting on this I see can see the importance of having differentiated instruction that appeals to all learning styles to help individuals not only stay engaged in the learning, but also to further develop other learning styles or intelligences. I also now tend to believe that a blended approach to the utilization of learning theories and learning styles may be beneficial (Kapp, 2006). Even though in the past I may have thought that my learning was occurring as a result of one specific learning style or intelligence, having multiple styles present likely resulted in better retention of the knowledge.
I have also gained a deeper understanding that in addition to learning styles differing from person to person, learning styles may also vary depending on context and concept (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). I have noticed that my learning does indeed vary depending on the concepts being taught. There may be times when I need to employ the use of different learning strategies to enhance my learning when instruction for certain concepts are presented in a way that may not be my preferred learning style for that concept or context (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008). One strategy that was identified in our course is the idea of comprehension monitoring or metacognition. Metacognition allows the learner to supervise their own thinking and learning to assess their progress and monitor comprehension (Laureate, 2009b). Being mindful of further developing my skills in metacognition will continue to help me be a more self-directed learner.
Gaining a better understanding of the different learning theories and learning strategies has helped to further enhancing my learning. My learning is also further enhanced and impacted by the technology that I use. In the past I held a preference to having print materials for learning that I could physically hold, highlight, and write on. I do still sometimes prefer printed materials and books especially when I know I will have limited access to the internet, but I am noticing a shift away from this as technology devices continue to advance and offer ease of access for retrieving and storing information. Although many different learning theories can be used to guide the use of technology, in Siemen’s discussion of connectivism he pointed out that technology is our starting point for connecting with people and data (Laureate, 2009a). Whether for academic learning, professional development at my job, or personal learning I often retrieve information through use of the internet by accessing articles, videos, or just conducting a general search using the Google search engine to retrieve information on a particular topic. I have also noticed my social learning has increased through the use of technology such as blogs or online forums. Technology is a part of my daily life and will continue to play an integral role in how I learn and how I help others to learn.

Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning
Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from
Kapp, K. (2006, December 21). Design: Behaviorism has it’s place. [Blog message]. Retrieved
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009a) Connectivism [Video webcast] [with George
Siemens] Retrieved from Walden University.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009b) Information Processing and Problem Solving
[Video webcast] [with Dr. Jeanne Ormrod] Retrieved from Walden University.