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.

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