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Published on April 13, 2020

7 Different Learning Models: Which One Fits You Best?

7 Different Learning Models: Which One Fits You Best?

What does it mean to learn?

For some, it is the introduction to anything new in life that teaches them a thing or two that they did not already know. For others, learning is the process of remembering any information that they are subjected to. Other groups believe that learning means being able to practically implement whatever knowledge they have gained.

In reality, the exact definition of learning does not matter. What matters is the process that goes on behind the merely apparent.

According to research, learning is far more than what we think it is. There have been new studies that can help make the process of learning more effective and fun.

Learning models are one aspect of this research, and anyone can use them to boost their learning process.

What Are Learning Models?

Learning models are any framework that defines the mechanism of learning.

Basically:

A learning model is any form of learning new skills or information. These models have sub-categories that further divide into various learning styles.

Learning Style Models and Respective Learners

So, to understand learning models, let’s take a look at an example:

The internet is full of learning hacks. At times they work amazingly. But sometimes, they do not seem to work at all.

The hacks are not at fault here. It is the difference in learning styles of individuals and the science behind each respective style that causes this.

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Therefore, the best way to put all these hacks and other learning tips to use is by understanding the process.

Learning is defined by 7 different models. Each one explains the process along with relevant learning styles that originate from the model.

1. Kolb Learning Style Model

This learning style is also known as the experiential learning theory. [1]

David A. Kolb suggested in this model that learning is a cycle that comprises of four stages:

  1. Concrete learning
  2. Reflective observation
  3. Abstract conceptualization
  4. Active experimentation

In the first stage, the learner either experiences something new or goes through a variation of an old experience.

This leads to the next stage in which the learner reflects on the said experience. The understanding of this experience is completely based on the learner’s personal interpretation.

Based on this understanding, the learner goes through abstract conceptualization in which either new ideas are formed or old ones are modified.

In the last stage, everything that has been understood in the previous three stages is implied. The learner experiments with these new learnings in real life, the results of which then lead to a new cycle.

Based on this cycle, there can be four types of learners:

  • Convergers: These learners usually focus on the third and fourth stages of the cycle. They like to experiment. For these individuals, it is important to apply their knowledge practically. Hence why they love technical tasks.
  • Divergers: People with this learning style are more on the creative side of the spectrum. They like to imagine great extents, which help them come up with unique ideas. Divergers rely mostly on the first two stages of the cycle.
  • Assimilators: Such learners take onto everything with the support of known information. They prefer conceptualization and reflection in absorbing information more effectively.
  • Accommodators: Individuals with this learning style approach new tasks welcomingly. Their style is practical which is why their learning mostly comprises the last stage in the cycle.

2. VARK Learning Style Model

The acronym VARK explains the learning model itself. It stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learning styles. This model states that every learner experiences learning through any one of these processes.

So, of course:

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Visual learners will be able to remember things they see better than the things they hear. Similarly, auditory learners absorb information best through audio sources, readers and writers like to do either of those, and kinesthetic learners gain knowledge by experiencing it.

As per this model, learners are divided into two types. Type one learners can switch between the four learning styles as per the need of the situation. However, type two learners are referred to as slow learners because they only have one preference.

3. Gregorc Learning Model

The Gregorc learning model looks deep into the way the mind works. [2]

As per this model, there is a dominant quadrant of the mind. Since this quadrant overpowers mental activity, it determines the learning style of every individual.

The first of these learning styles is concrete sequential learning. These learners learn via hands-on experience. The use of all senses is noticed in such learning.

Next:

There is concrete random. Such individuals can memorize knowledge quickly but then interpret is based on their prior knowledge. For example, a person learning the ukulele will have to relate the strumming pattern to an instrument they are already familiar with to learn it quickly enough.

Moving forward, there are abstract sequential learners. People with this learning style require an organized learning environment with a lot of learning tools, especially visuals, for a successful learning process.

Lastly, abstract random learners work in what seems like a disorganized manner. They have their own way to organize information in their mind as per their personal interpretation.

4. Hermann Brain Dominance

The Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is a model that introduced a mechanism to identify the learning preferences of individuals.

Based on the results, this model suggests that learners can be theorists, organizers, humanitarians, or innovators.

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Theorists prefer sequential learning, so they are good at memorizing information.

Organizers can only absorb new knowledge if all the information is arranged systematically.

Humanitarians focus on interpersonal thinking so their learning comprises of emotions, feelings, and expression of ideas. Group interactions are pretty common for humanitarian learners.

Lastly, innovators use existing knowledge to build upon with their creativity. Problem-solving and critical thinking are prominent traits of these learners.

5. 4MAT Learning Model

The 4MAT learning model is an extension of the Kolb model. However, it presents 4 different learning styles which include imaginative, analytical, dynamic, and common sense.

This model suggests that individuals who base their learning on experiences are learners who fall in the category of common sense.

Imaginative learners conceptualize these experiences, whereas analytical learners apply and refine the ideas too. Dynamic learners make use of all the steps but mainly base their learning on their personal interpretation.

6. Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model

This learning model is focused on the fact that every individual has their own preference when it comes to the process of grasping new information. Certain individuals may have multiple preferences, some may shift from one to the other, and some have only one.

Active and reflective learners, as the name suggests, are very hands-on. Active learning is their favorite method to learn.

On the other hand, sensing and intuitive learners focus on written facts and concepts. They can be presented with pre-existing ideas, and they will not have any issues memorizing them.

For example, if a PR strategist can work better based on previous research instead of experimenting around in real-life situations with new ideas, it would account for this style.

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Sequential and global learners prefer organized and systematic learning.

Visual and verbal learners go for supporting tools such as words and graphics.

7. Honey Mumford Model

The Honey Mumford model is pretty similar to the Kolb model. It introduces the following learning styles:

  • Activists: Active learners do things practically to gain knowledge from them.
  • Theorists: People who like to learn from existing facts and figures fall into this category.
  • Pragmatists: Such individuals conceptualize and experiment with ideas before they learn from them.
  • Reflectors: These learners reflect on what they see and learn from it.

Improving Your Learning Ability with the Learning Models

It is pretty simple to figure out your learning styles. You can take an online test or simply pay attention to your preferred learning method. If you are aware of the various learning styles, it will not take you long to figure this out.

Next:

With your identified learning style, it is time to move backward.

Look at every single learning model and figure out which one your learning style falls under. Knowing this helps make your job easier.

Each learning model has a specific mechanism that explains the process of absorption of information. If you apply that when learning new skills and techniques in life, the process will become efficient and easy.

Therefore:

If you identify yourself as a visual learner, you can spend more time figuring out the mechanism of the VARK model. You can research learning techniques for this particular style to boost your learning capabilities.

In the end, it is evident that learning is a complex process. This deep phenomenon can be put to use very well if you can crack it successfully. Now that you have all the information regarding learning models, learning will not be a problem anymore, and you are now set for life!

Need More Help Learning More Effectively?

Featured photo credit: NordWood Themes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Simplypsychology.org: Kolb – Learning Styles
[2] Cortland.edu: Mind Styles – Anthony Gregorc

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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