According to Wikipedia, learning styles is used to describe ones natural or habitual pattern of acquiring and processing information in learning situations. Keefe (1979) defines learning styles as the "composite of characteristic affective, physiological and cognitive factors that serve as relatively stable indicators that show how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment." Learning styles can also be described as a set of behaviors, attitudes and factors that facilitate learning for an individual in certain situation (Web.cortland.edu, 1990).
Learning styles influence how students learn and how teachers teach. Indirectly, it also influences how the students and teacher interact.Â Â Each individual is born with certain tendencies toward particular styles. However, learning styles will influence by culture, maturity level, development and personal experiences (Web.cortland.edu, 1990).Â Â It is important to remember that learning styles do not tell us about one's abilities or intelligence but help us to understand why some tasks seem easier for others than us (Fleming and Bonwell, 2006). Besides, learning styles also described as the best time of day a learner absorb the knowledge. For example, some people unable to function in the early evening and some people are just not able to function well in the early morning.
Generally, there are four categories of learning styles, there is auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile. A student with an auditory learning style learns best when information and knowledge are delivered in auditory formats. Examples of auditory formats are lectures, oral reading, podcasts and discussions. Auditory learners prefer to learn using their ears. They prefer to follow verbal instructions rather than written ones. These students also do well with taped courses and group discussions (www.learningrx.com/learning-styles.htm).
Meanwhile, learners with tend to work best in an environment where information is presented in visual format such as books, articles, video, image or diagrams. They enjoy reading books for knowledge and can easily follow written directions. Since messages are taken in through the eyes, they can do well in power point presentations, movies and class handouts (www.learningrx.com/learning-styles.htm).
A student with kinesthetic learning style prefers learning by doing. Messages and information are taken in by the muscles through body movement. Kinesthetic learners work well with their hands. They write things down to clarify their thoughts (Learning Styles & Strategies Manitoba Education & Training, 1998).
Finally, a student with a tactile learning style responds well to touching and creating things in areas such as science and art. They learn best when information is conveyed in hand-on mode. They prefer holding and manipulating the subject matter rather than merely viewing an image of it (www.learningrx.com/learning-styles.htm).
Learning is a lifelong process. Therefore, it is important to identify and understand the differences between the various learning styles. Although Stahl (1999) had critique about the learning styles, educators are still compelling in measuring and teaching to students' learning. Since 1970, countless students have benefitted from learning about how they learn and the differences of learning styles among people; many instructors have made effective use of learning styles in their teaching (Oncourseworkshop.com, 1970). It is not only because leaning styles should be discovered and encouraged but there are several benefits of measuring and teaching students to understand their learning preferences.
By understanding the learning styles, teachers can instruct according to the learner's style. A teacher who instruct only according to his own styles will makes learning more difficult for the students (Learning Styles & Strategies Manitoba Education & Training, 1998). Students learn most effectively when the strategies used are close with their preferred learning styles. Therefore, teachers should also help students to find their own learning style. An awareness of learning styles can help to improve the methods of teachers' presentation (www.learningrx.com). However, we should remember that one learning style is not assumed to be better or excellent than the others but is rather preferred by the learner (Weimer, 2012).
Another possibility that the mere act of learning about learning styles is to encourage teachers to pay more attention to the kinds of instruction they are delivering (Radzyner, 2009). Teachers who understand the importance of learning styles might start offer a broader mixture of lectures, laboratory work, discussions and others variety useful instruction that might turn out to be better for all students other than routine one major teaching method.
Weimer (2012) said that students differ in their interests, background knowledge and abilities but not in their learning styles. But there is no evidence suggests that catering to learners learning preferences will lead to better learning. Even so, teachers should help students to identify their learning styles. Knowing their own learning style does help learners to build self-confidence and to learn to manage their own learning (Learning Styles & Strategies Manitoba Education & Training, 1998). It will also help students to remove or ignore things that cause them problems in learning. After identify students' learning styles, teachers can teach them how to use their brain best and give them insight into their strengths, weaknesses and habits.
Besides, by recognizing and understanding the students' learning styles, students and teacher can use techniques better to suit each other. Students can improve their speed and quality of learning. The learning process will also enjoyable. According to Wikipedia, preferred learning styles can guide the way we learn and also change our internally represent experiences and the way we recall information. Students will benefits from discovering how they process information best. Therefore, many guides and techniques were still recommended from educators about knowing and identify students' learning styles even there isn't adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice (Moore, 2010).
Students that understand the differences of learning styles will also helps them in understand others and help them relate to and communicate better with the various people in their life. If the number of failures when communicate effectively with other decrease, students will feel confident and satisfy in working with others. By understanding own learning styles, we can also reduces the stress and frustration of learning experiences in the situation to overcome the limitations of poor instructors (Studyingstyle.com, 2010).
Educators are so compelling or appealing to the idea of measuring and teaching to students' learning styles because the awareness of learning styles differences can help instructors teach in a manner that effectively reaches most students (Oncourseworkshop.com, 1970). Teaching by incorporating a variety of active learning strategies can make teaching more rewarding and enhance students' motivation at the same time. Even though teachers can approach learning styles from different disciplines and experiences, an understanding of the different learning styles is fundamental to the individual approaches of teaching (www.learningrx.com/learning-styles.htm).
However, if an instructor relies on only learners' best style, instead of helping them develop the other learning styles they are weak in will bring drawbacks in their learning. When learner is encourage to avoid areas they are weak in, the underlying cognitive skills in that area will remain weak and that learner may lose the opportunity to fully develop an array of learning tools. Therefore, every learner needs a strong foundation in the core cognitive skills no matter which learning style they prefer (www.learningrx.com/learning-styles.htm). Cognitive components are the internal control of the system of running the knowledge (Kazu, 2009). There are mental abilities required for long-term proficiency in core subjects such as writing, reading and calculating. Cognitive skills can be improved through education.
One of another possibility drawback of using learning styles to guide instruction is the difficulty of planning a lesson which incorporates all four learning styles. Even it isn't hard to include both auditory and visual learning styles in a lesson, but the sad truth is many students have the tactile and kinesthetic learning style (Kelly, 2013). Therefore, it is not possible to involve all learning styles in a lesson.
If a teacher tries to using learning styles to guide instruction but mismatches exist between learning styles of most students in a class, the students may becomes inattentive and bored in the class. As the result, students perform poorly in tests, get discourage about the courses, the curriculum and even themselves. Students might start wondering if they are in the right profession. Most seriously, society will loses potentially excellent professionals (Www4.ncsu.edu, 2002).
Furthermore, teachers may view incorporating a variety of instructional strategies into every lesson as a burden. Teachers need more time to plan, more daily instructional time and less students to guide instruction using learning styles. Teachers will feel stress with the multi-faceted instructional activities with the short instructional period. The difficulty in handling a classroom with multiple learning styles poses a challenge to teachers. Students might express behavior problems due to frustrations and boredom from the type of instruction that is typically given.
To guide instruction by using learning styles also need necessary curricular materials. These materials play a crucial role in implementing a variety of instructional strategies to meet the need of different learning styles. For examples, teacher need videos and visual aids form visual learner, audio recording material for auditory learners, creative art activities for tactile learners and kinesthetic activities for kinesthetic learners. All these materials should be useful in teaching and learning and able to delivered information and knowledge to learners. The most possible drawback from these curricular materials is teachers need funds, knowledge, support and experience from variety department.
In order for teachers to implement a variety of instructional strategies in their lesson, teachers need ongoing opportunities to build their understanding in learning styles and suitable abilities. Without the experiences from observing model classrooms, workshops, or studying, teachers might mismatch the lesson and thus bring to serious negative effects.
Teachers might tends to ignore others factors such as classroom climate, motivation, background, multicultural issues, gender and ethnic that also influencing learner's learning quality (Montgomery & Groat, 1998) .