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In this essay, I will be discussing my learning styles using different theorists to support my dominant and weaker learning styles. I will be creating plans to improve the weaker learning styles. Also I will be explaining why learning styles are useful to a student nurse.
Learning styles is a method an individual uses to learn (Felicetti, 1992, pp. 15-23). It influences student learning styles and how they memorise and store information. As each individual learner learns differently from each other and have their preferred way of perception and organisation. It is important for student nurses to know their learning styles as it can influence the learner's response to an educational programme such as; lectures and placement. According to Perrin (1990) "Now these at-risk students exhibit confidence and accept responsibility for their own learning" (p.24).
According to Honey and Mumford (1992), learning style is described as "a description of the attitudes and behaviour which determine an individual's preferred way of learning". This supports the usefulness of learning styles especially to student nurse because once they know the type of learner they are they can start making plans that works for them and prioritise their learning. Therefore it is important for student nurses to know which learning styles they fall into as it can help improve their effectiveness as a learner. (Kolb, 1985)
Student nurses can benefit from knowing their learning styles as it can help them find out what study method or activities help them learn best. (Martin and Potter, 1998, pp.545-555). When student nurses know their learning styles it enhances their understanding of any subject as they would always use their learning styles to approach the work. Also when they are taught in the way that strengthens their learning styles they would be able to tackle the assignment whereas if an Activists learner was taught in a Theorist learning style it would be difficult for them to understand the tasks at hand. (Rita Dunn, 1990, p.18).
Also Martin & Potter (1998) states "One of the key factors for students in having knowledge of their learning style is improved self-esteem." From knowing which learning styles that works best for you it improves your self-esteem because you know what kind of learner you are and would stick to how this learner learns and use it each time to carry out the tasks.
According to Skinner (1950) "Learning is a function of change in overt behaviour. Changes in behaviour are the result of an individual's response to events that occur in the environment" (pp. 193-216). Although it is a behaviourist theory of learning it can benefit some student nurses whose learning style is theorists because they benefit from repetition, chance to ask questions and are easily motivated. However behaviourist can start to find repetition boring and their work can be totally teacher orientated as they would be asking teachers for every little information before doing their work.
Learning could be affected by environmental factors e.g. some student learns better in warm environment and others learn in cool environment. (Hart, 1981, pp.39-40). By understanding their learning styles these can be prevented. As a student nurse, while learning we have to develop all the skills that are compulsory when in practice and as a qualified nurse. It is important to demonstrate good communication skills and team work, these skills are essential as we have to display our ability to work and communicate effectively with the other members of the multi-disciplinary team in practice as well as the patients and their families. These skills are equally important because as a student nurse it vital that when changing shift, the nurse signing off duty has to pass all the patient information on their duty to the nurse who is taking over. According to Flin (2009) he states that "Communication performs a number of functions in a health care system. It provides knowledge, establishes relationships and behaviour patterns and supports leadership and team co-ordination". We are taught these skills as a student nurse in university by working with other students from different courses and in each lecture we are encouraged to work together in group.
We are also learning the importance of decision making by working with other students from different course through group work. This is vital as in practice we will have to work with other professions and from the ability to work and make up our minds individually through group work that has been carried out in lectures, we will have the ability to decide what you think is best and able to justify your decision when questioned.
According to Honey questionnaire (2006), he described that there are four different types of learning styles such as; Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist.
According to the Honey (2006), Activist learners are keen and like to welcome new challenges and experiences. They like to have a go and try things out and participate in any group work. Reflector tends to take a thoughtful approach about things and they are usually a good listener and prefer to things about things before taking any action.
Theorist learners like to see how things fit into an overall pattern and they pay great attention to details. Lastly, pragmatists see how things works in practice and try out what they are learning.
Dominant learning style is the technique that is used to learn information. From the learning styles questionnaire, it shows that my own dominant learning styles are; Theorists and Reflector. No-one learns completely in just one style, we all tend to fall under the one descriptor and borrow characteristics from the others (Kolb 1984).
As a theorist learner, in lectures, I always like being given the opportunity to ask questions in class. When given an assignment, I tend to think them through step by step through using my skills and my knowledge. Also, I like working with interesting ideas where the situation at hand has a clear purpose. In addition, when doing work, I tend to be perfectionist by making sure my work is tidy and sensible.
I believe I am a practical learner than theory all the time. Also I find it difficult in situations when I have to do reading or writing, as I like asking question that is more straight to the point in order to help me either with the assignment or topic learnt in class. I would always want to ask either the lecturers or anyone who can provide me with the knowledge.
However, I find it quite difficult to work with others that have different styles compared to me. I feel quite uncomfortable to carry out any tasks not knowing enough background information or purpose to the task.
Being at university, I have been getting use to the long lectures and been taking notes in lectures/seminar to read in my own time. Doing this has been helping me with extra reading outside of lecture and letting me think individually.
As a reflector, during a group discussion I tend to sit back, listen and observe my colleagues before putting my point across. I always think before acting for example, during my clinical placement, when working with patients, I always make sure that whatever care I give to the patient, I have the opportunity to think about it thoroughly. I ensured that I re-read all the patient care plans to have more knowledge on how to care and offer the best quality of care to the patient.
On the other hand, when trying to do an assignment I tend to rush into it without planning which lead to not being able to manage my time effectively. Also, I am quite weak in making up my mind about certain situation for example structuring up my assignment as well as finding it difficult to reach a decision.
Understanding of my own dominant learning styles will be useful for me as it would allow me to work effectively. It will also allow me locate areas that are difficult for me. Jasper, (2003) states that ''having an awareness of the ways in which we learn best, the ways that we choose to learn if we were left to ourselves, helps us to select from these methods to maximise our opportunities'' p.45.
Reflecting back on Honey (2006) questionnaire, its shows that my score for activist learning style is 8 which is seen as my weakest style.
In order for me to strengthen my activist style, I am going to make sure I always attend all my lectures, doing extra reading on my own as well as reading journals, all these would increase my knowledge of different information in nursing.
In order to strengthen my activist style, I will involve myself in working with others in team, throw myself in new experiences and new opportunities for example, during my clinical placement I will ensure I work within teams and learn new skills and experiences.
In order to correct my weakness, I will also force myself into communicating more in group works. Also, having a go at something I have not tried before for example developing my leadership skills.
After carrying out the questionnaire, I am able to identify which learning style is my dominant and weaker learning style and the importance of knowing which learning styles helps me learn best. Understanding of my own dominant learning style will help me in future if I have an assignment or exams revisions to do I will know what study method to use to learn best and therefore be able to prioritise my learning.
Dunn, R. (1990). Rita Dunn answers questions on learning styles. Educational Leadership, 48 (2) 15-19.
This journal explains the characteristics on how student learn best which includes; time of day, outside stimulation, energy level and mobility. It also talks about the benefit of student understanding their learning style and focuses on student preferred ways of learning. In addition, this journal broadly explained the importance of adjusting our weaknesses. Finally it clarifies that student can learn almost any subject when they are taught different approaches and methods to their learning style strengths.
Jasper, M. (2003). Beginning reflective practice. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
This book explains what reflective practice is and why it is important for individual learning and developing professional practice. It helps identify your learning style and teaches how to develop strategies for your own learning styles. It lets you reflect on different skills required in higher education and to be aware of the skills so we can identify and improve on the skills we lack. This book also identifies how reflection is the same approach that is required for learning and how learning happens through practice. Finally it gives us the opportunity to recognise the advantages of learning while in practice and how it helps link theory and practice.
Honey P. (2006). The learning styles Questionnaire. (1st ed.). Maidenhead: Peter Honey
This booklet helps you identify the type of learner you are by completing a questionnaire. The answer from the questionnaire is used to help you identify what your dominant learning as well as your weaker learning style. It also defines the different characteristics of learning and breaks down the different learning preference each individual has. Finally it explains the four type of learner and how each learner are different i.e. how they learn and what difficulties they may face due to their learning style.
Skinner, B.F. (1950). Are theories of learning necessary? Psychological Review, 57(4), 193-216.
This journal explains the behaviourist theory on learning and how the individual learns. It also gives an example of research that has been carried out to support the information their theory has been based on. It also identifies the different types of learning theories that addresses how people learn. It explains how using reinforcement can be used to modify behaviour e.g. positive and negative reinforces and the outcome of using the techniques. It is also based around the idea that are reinforces will continue, while the behaviours that are punished will end.
Reed, G. (2005). Learning styles and inclusion.
This book is about learning and how to make learning effective for the learners. It explains the importance of the learning environment of learning and identifies the learning differences and styles. It also explains the background of why knowing learning styles is important and how to assess the learning styles. It recognises both the teacher and learners needs while considering the environment. Finally it allows teachers to recognise the learning style of the individual needs of the learners in different learning environment.
Pritchard, A. (2008). Ways of learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. (2nd.ed)
This book identifies the understanding of processing learning and how it leads to effective learning taking place. It talks about behaviourism related to learning and justifying each theory. Also it identifies behaviourism in different learning setting e.g. in school and in practice and explaining the importance of reinforcement in this environment. It identifies the name that are linked with behaviourism and learning. This book also identifies the cognitive, constructivist theories in learning and the theorists who carried out research to support the learning. The book uses known references such as; Honey and Mumford (1992) learning style model to expand that learning styles are not fixed and each individual have different characteristics. It explains how each individual adopt the method to learning that makes them comfortable and ignore the method they are less comfortable with. Finally it finds out why people do these and how to take the opportunity of knowing their weaker learning style and improving it.