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Learning Methods

David A. Kolb's Experiential Learning Model and Neil Fleming's VAK/VARK Learning Model

Cristian Rios

on 6 April 2016

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Transcript of Learning Methods

Experiential Learning
Learning Methods
Experiential learning is learning through experience. All models of experiential learning are centered around, or start with, the experience.
Kolb's Learning Model
Problems with Kolb's Model
Jarvis's developments to Kolb's model
This is Jarvis's new model. It fixes some of the problems in Kolb's model, like how the learning process in his model is in a set order, so stages can't be jumped, and like how the model can't be applied to every situation in life.
Kolb's model of experiential learning is centered around the experience. It analyzes, responds to, forms ideas from, and plans from the experience.
Experiential learning is only one of the many ways people can learn, but it has been focused on more than some other learning methods.
Kolb's experiential learning model starts with the experience, called concrete experience. Then, the experience is reflected on, and observations are made, called reflective observation.These are the phases of having the experience.
The next two phases are abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. Abstract conceptualization is forming ideas to explain our observations. Active experimentation is testing out our ideas in new and different situations. These two phases turn the experience into something useable.
There are problems with Kolb's model. Peter Jarvis did an extensive study of the model and found six important problems. Three problems with Kolb's model are that:
It is limited to only four learning styles, and it says those are the only four.
Stages and steps don't go along with reality. They can be skipped over in real life, so a learning model needs to be flexible: certain steps should have the quality of being able to skip them.
Support for the model is weak. It underwent limited testing when it was first introduced, and few studies have used the model since.
To try to fix the problems in the model, Jarvis made changes to the model and presented his new model.
The model starts with the person. They are the first step in the learning process. The second and third steps are that person's experience. An experience can be saying hello to someone or climbing a mountain.
For activities like saying hello, the process goes to step four. The person's assumption that the person they said hello to saw them is reinforced, but other than that, they are unchanged. If an important event in someone's life, like climbing a mountain, is the experience, then the next step will be something else, like reasoning and reflecting.
Non-learning(Where the experience is of no use to you and you don't learn anything.):
Presumption (boxes 1-4):This is what happens when you say hello. This is called patterned behavior, because you respond the same each time.
Non-consideration (1-4). This is when you might be able to learn something, but don't even think about it.
Rejection (boxes 1-3 to 7 to 9):This is where you might be able to learn something, but decide against it.
Reflective Learning
Contemplation(boxes 1-3 to 7 to 8 to 6 to 9):This is when you think deeply about something and make an educated decision about it, such as if you are deciding whether or not to report a crime your friend did.
Reflective practice (boxes 1-3 (to 5) to 7 to 5 to 6 to 9): This is observing what you are doing while you are doing it.
Experiential learning (boxes 1-3 to 7 to 5 to 7 to 8 to 6 to 9): This is how you can learn to do something or how to do it better.
Cristian Rios
Kolb's Model
Concrete Experience
Reflective Observation
Abstract Conceptualization
Active Experimentation
Notice how the process has steps, so you can't jump from concrete experience to abstract conceptualization. You have to go through reflective observation first.
Kolb's Experiential Learning Model
Non-reflective(Where you don't observe your experience deeply):
Pre-conscious (boxes 1-3 to 6 to either 4 or 9):This is when you do things in life that you do every day, such as saying hello, and you think about doing it, just barely, but you still think about it.
Practice (boxes 1-3 to 5 to 8 to 6 to either 4 or 9):This is for things in life where you must remember something and how to do it right. For example, if you are training to be in a competition, you will have the experience of training, then you will use that later (box 5), you will evaluate how you did, either good or bad, and you will remember that. Afterward, if did good, you would go to box four in the learning process and continue training the next day, or you may go to box nine if you didn't do good, because you will realize you need to train harder.
Memorization (boxes 1-3 to 6 and possibly 8 to 6 and then either to 4 or 9):Remembering something, and then possibly thinking about what you have learned.This can either change you, or it may have no effect on you.
Neil Fleming's VAK/VARK
Learning Model

Experiential learning is learning through experience. It is centered around the experience, and the person learns from the experience.
How we learn
In Kolb's model, there are four different kinds of learners: Convergers, Divergers, Assimilators, and Accomodators. Everyone possesses the qualities of all four learners, but usually, one kind of learner is dominant in the person.
For learning to work, all four learners must be present in one person. If someone uses only one learning type, they will be in serious problems.
Kolb's model is one of the most noted models in experiential learning. It has a set learning process that is the same for any kind of learning, and no steps can be skipped. It also has four different learning personalities that are locked into a person.
One learning personality usually dominates in a person, and they don't learn as well as the other personalities learn in their strengths. Also, learning personalities do not change over time. One will always dominate in a person.
Problems were noted in his model by Peter Jarvis, who extensively studied Kolb's model. He found six large problems, and made a new model, based off of Kolb's, to try to fix those problems. Jarvis's model can be applied to any situation in life where something can or can't be learned. It still left a few problems, such as how his model still uses stages like Kolb's.
Years later, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford created a learning model, along with a test, the Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ), to assess how people learn and to see which learning style they fall into: Activist, Theorist, Pragmatist, and Reflector. It is very similar to Kolb's model.
Kolb's model has more recently been phased out as Neil Fleming's VAK/VARK model has become more popular.
VAK Models
VAK models are based off of the assumption that there are three ways people can learn: visual learning, which is learning through seeing or reading, auditory learning, which is learning through hearing, and kinaesthetic learning, or learning through feeling and touching.
This model says that a combination of all three learning methods is how people learn, and like Kolb's model, it says that one learning style dominates in a person.
To be able to accurately learn, a person must stimulate all three different styles.
Fleming's VAK/VARK Model
Neil D. Fleming created the VAK/VARK model. It splits learning up into three main categories, visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic. Visual learning is sometimes split up into pictures and reading/writing, so that's why it's also called the VARK model.
Fleming's model was designed to expand upon the Neurolinguistic Programming model of the 1970's that said there is a link between neurological processes (the brain's main processes) and language(linguistic behavior). It is said to be one of the most discredited learning models.
Learning Styles
If someone has more than one way they learn best, they are called a multimodal learner. About 60% of people learn this way.
To learn better, that person should focus on which way they learn best.
Multimodal Learners
Multimodal learners can learn best in two, three, or even four different ways. Usually, if one person learns best in three or four ways, one or two ways stand out a little more than the others, but sometimes the person is equal in all the ways they learn.
These kinds of learners usually switch their learning mode to adjust to how they are currently learning.
VAK models are based around three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic.
Fleming's VARK model added to previous VAK models by taking in the reading/writing aspect of learning.
Some people are good in only one learning style. Others are good in two or more learning styles. These people switch how they learn according to how they are required to learn at that time.
According to the model, a combination of all four learning styles is necessary to learn right.
Focusing on your preferred learning style is the best way to learn.
Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Multiple Intelligences
Howard Gardner proposed a theory that the brain's abilities can be split up into eight different categories. Unlike other models, it does not use the concept of general intelligence, or the idea that all ways the brain accepts information are closely correlated. Gardner says that there are very weak links between his "intelligences", going against many previous studies.
According to his learning model, just because a person isn't good in common subjects, like math and science, doesn't mean that the person isn't smart, just that they aren't good in that particular area.
Also, a person may have a deeper understanding of a subject than someone who seems to be better in that subject, so they seem to be worse in that subject, while they may be much better than the other person. For example, a child may remember the multiplication table, but not know how multiplication works. A different child who learns how multiplication works will group numbers and add them, making him or her slower, but that child actually has a deeper understanding of multiplication than the other child.
The Intelligences
When choosing what the intelligences should be, Gardner made sure they fit seven criteria:
The intelligences could be made useless by brain damage.
They had a part in human history.
They used core operations, like seeing or hearing.
They could somehow be expressed.
They could be developed throughout life.
Significant or important people in history showed that they had the intelligences.
They had sufficient backing by studies.
The eight intelligences are logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Gardner also proposed an existential(spiritual or religious) intelligence, and a moral intelligence.
A person can have more than one intelligence. You can be very smart in music, but horrible at math and logic. According to Gardner's model, you should be criticized in music , not math, to help you get better in music instead of worse in math.
All of the different intelligences need to be provided for, such as listening to music to stimulate your musical intelligence, or reading a book to stimulate your linguistic intelligence. To learn well, a person should focus on their best intelligence.
These are not my thoughts. This is what I got from Wikipedia and some other sites about the learning methods. I do not guarantee any of these methods will work, they were just the most appealing to me. This presentation is current as of February 8th, 2013. Results may vary.
The Final Conclusion
People who excel in this intelligence are good at reading, writing, telling stories, and remembering words along with dates.
Persons good in this form of intelligence like to do things instead of watching someone else do the activity or reading about it. You don't necessarily have to be physically fit to be good in this intelligence; you just need to be able to get your hands dirty.
People who are best in this intelligence are sensitive to sound, rhythm, tones, and music. They must hear something to understand it correctly, may make up songs to remember information, and have trouble with written directions. They are also usually good at playing instruments and singing.
Persons who prefer this intelligence are good at reflecting on their actions, have a deep understanding of themselves, know their strengths and weaknesses, and can predict their own actions and emotions.
Persons who are better in this intelligence are good at logic, abstract thinking(like solving problems in their head), inductive and deductive reasoning, or getting general ideas from specific details and vice-versa, respectively.
People who are good in this intelligence nurture, appreciate, and can use their natural surroundings, Examples would be the ability to classify natural landforms and knowing how to cultivate crops effectively. In our evolutionary history, people like hunters and gatherers had this intelligence. Current examples are farmers, botanists, and chefs.
Persons excelling in this intelligence are good at socializing, verbal language, and nonverbal language like gestures, facial expressions, and being able to read lips. They usually make friends easily, can persuade people easily, and are looked up to as leaders.
Spatial intelligence is being able to judge sizes by looking at something, being able to visualize in one's mind, being able to navigate without additional tools, being able to see objects from different angles, or being able to see fine details.
Spatial intelligence isn't just visual. It's being able to visualize, too. Blind persons have been noted to be able to judge sizes by feeling objects and visualizing how big or small they are.
Lack of Empirical Evidence
Changing the Definition of Intelligence
Neo-Piagetian Criticism
IQ Tests
No Test
According to critics, where most people would've used the word ability, such as a physical ability, Gardner said "intelligence". This became popular because unlike other learning models, everyone could be smart in some way. Critics said he extended the definition of intelligence too far. They also noted that if a researcher had been researching the same idea, they would've gotten different intelligences, so his model didn't represent everyone, according to those critics. The main critics in this part of the model were Robert J. Sternberg, Michael Eysenck, and S. Scarr.
Critics also noted that Gardner hadn't made a test to test his learning model. To respond to this, Gardner said:
"Ultimately, it would certainly be desirable to have an algorithm for the selection of an intelligence, such that any trained researcher could determine whether a candidate's intelligence met the appropriate criteria. At present, however, it must be admitted that the selection (or rejection) of a candidate's intelligence is reminiscent more of an artistic judgment than of a scientific assessment."
In English, he said that he would be grateful if there was a set way to determine someone's intelligence, but since there wasn't, the only way to determine intelligence would be by a psychologist's judgment, not by a scientific test. This was also interpreted as Gardner not having a definition for intelligence, therefore he couldn't test it.
Diffusing the definition of Intelligence
Still other critics said that intelligence has always been only what gets someone through school. Gardner says that because verbal and logical/mathematical abilities have always been considered intelligence, but his artistic, musical, and other intelligences have not, people with only the last two abilities have not been considered smart. Gardner also responded with noting that those critics considered only certain kinds of abilities intelligence, while others aren't, so people with extraordinary abilities wouldn't be considered smart. Critics said that his theory of intelligences would expand the boundaries of intelligence too far, making studying intelligence very hard, and his naturalistic intelligence and possible existential and moral intelligences are only seen as adding to this. Defenders of Gardner's theory say that this shows how many abilities the brain has, and that it goes against traditional tests like IQ tests.
Andreas Demetriou suggested to the world that theories which overemphasize the individual intelligences are as simple as those that overemphasize general intelligence. He also said that some parts of intelligence, like logical and verbal, were autonomous(independent of each other), but for basic parts of human functioning to work, like fast processing of information and memory, all parts of intelligence would have to work together. Demetriou also suggested that for intelligence to be measured, general intelligence and each of the individual intelligences would both have to be assessed.
I have no idea what that means!
Gardner said that IQ tests only test linguistic and verbal abilities, but psychologist Alan Kaufman argued that they have tested spatial abilities for more than 70 years. They now also give scores for narrower abilities like musical ability, but they still depend on the overall score.
A 2006 study found that many of Gardner's intelligences are parts of general intelligence, and that others aren't part of that theory, don't require main interaction between the brain and that ability(?), or are personality characteristics. Gardner doesn't not agree with the general intelligence theory because it found very strong relationships between the brain's functions, while Gardner thinks the relationships are very weak.
General Intelligence
If something has strong empirical evidence, it has been deeply studied and reviewed.
IQ Tests
Psychologist Linda Gottfredson argued that thousands of studies support the IQ tests in determining how someone will preform in work and school. This test has very strong empirical evidence, but other tests that don't use general intelligence as their base have very weak or very little empirical evidence. They are still popular because they imply that everyone can be smart in some way.
A review of Gardner's theory shows that it has very little empirical evidence:
To date there have been no published studies that offer evidence of the validity of the multiple intelligences. In 1994 Sternberg reported finding no empirical studies. In 2000 Allix reported finding no empirical validating studies, and at that time Gardner and Connell conceded that there was "little hard evidence for MI theory" (2000, p. 292). In 2004 Sternberg and Grigerenko stated that there were no validating studies for multiple intelligences, and in 2004 Gardner asserted that he would be "delighted were such evidence to accrue",[30] and admitted that "MI theory has few enthusiasts among psychometricians or others of a traditional psychological background" because they require "psychometric or experimental evidence that allows one to prove the existence of the several intelligences.
Translated to English and simplified, this review says that multiple studies by various psychologists have found no empirical evidence for Gardner's learning model, and that Gardner and his partner, Connell, have admitted that they would want there to be more and better empirical evidence and that it has few credited enthusiasts.
Uses In Education
Gardner has said he believes that school should be not only to learn what we're supposed to learn, but things outside of that, like music, technology or art. According to him, when a school focuses on all of its students and suits their needs equally, all of its students will be prepared for life outside of school.
He has also said that while IQ tests benefit most students because they focus primarily on logical and linguistic intelligence, other students who are not best in these subjects will suffer and not receive the benefits they need in the type of intelligence they are good in. Also, according to Gardner, IQ tests only record knowledge in a frozen snapshot of time. They can't record how well someone will learn new things, use new information, or solve new problems.
An article by James Traub states that Gardner's theory has not been accepted by most academic institutions, and that the empirical evidence gained since its release, although it was plentiful, had not been in an extremely experimental setting.
A very notable setback to the multiple intelligences theory is that the No Child Left Behind Act test does not use Gardner's idea of multiple intelligences in any way.
Howard Gardener's theory of multiple intelligences states that there are eight different ways people can learn. Those eight different ways are all important, and they, in theory, should be provided for equally, but people tend to use one or two intelligences more than the others.
Because of the way Gardner's theory is set up, it is almost impossible not to excel in one or more intelligences, so in this way, everyone can be smart.
This theory, according to some studies, has strong ties to the g factor, or general intelligence, which is a theory stating that all parts of intelligence are closely related, but only certain parts of intelligence make people "smart". Gardner has said he is opposed to this theory because it only considers certain parts of intelligence important. According to the theory, if a person could play all instruments, but couldn't add or subtract or read, they wouldn't be considered as smart as someone who could do those things. In real life, that is not the case, but the general intelligence theory is one of the most widely used theories today.
This theory has not been very widely accepted by psychologists or academic institutions, and it has been criticized for that. Also, at the time of its release, it didn't have nearly enough empirical evidence to become a popular theory among those people, but because it suggested that anyone could be smart in some way, it still became moderately popular.
Although this theory is one of the most controversial, it has remained popular, in part due to the clever answers its supporters have come up with to defend it, and using those answers, they have shown how far the brain's abilities extend past just logical and linguistic intelligence.
I have presented three learning models/theories. They are Kolb's experiential learning model, Fleming's VAK/VARK model, and Gardner's multiple intelligences theory. They all state specific methods through which people can learn, but only Kolb's uses a sequence.
The three learning methods I presented are all very controversial, but they are popular because they are easy to understand, help people understand how they can improve their learning experience, and/or make the studier feel smart, even if their colleagues don't think so.
Kolb's model uses the experiences in everyday life and the occasional extraordinary event in life as a learning base through which the learner has the experience, analyzes it, learns from it, and uses their new knowledge in other and different situations.
Fleming's model is centered around three or four different kinds of learning: visual, auditory, sometimes reading/writing, and kinaesthetic. The learner may excel in one, two, or even three or four of the learning methods.
Gardner's model states that there are eight "intelligences", or main abilities the brain has. These intelligences should all be used in conjunction to make the learning experience faster and more productive. It suggests that everyone can be smart in some way, and because of that, it has become one the most controversial models ever. Because of the same reason, it is also very popular.
I personally prefer the multiple intelligences model because it suggests that everyone can be smart in some way, it prevents people from trying to excel in something where they would be wasting their learning time, it is very easy to understand, and it very clearly states how to learn. The controversy surrounding it also played a factor in my choice.
All of these models clearly state that focusing on your preferred learning method help you learn best.
Because of the way humans learn, you do not have to choose a learning style, but you can instead combine the three models I presented into one and customize how you learn within them, and also change how you learn according to how, when, and where you are learning.
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