Learning styles are construct to refer the people learning habits and their behavior in a situation of learning. Some people feel more comfortable with theoretical models, others are keen more on practical implication of the theoretical principles, and third group prefers examples to reflect on it. Next is to present two of the most popular learning styles theory.
Kolb has identified four type of learning styles: diverger, assimilator, converger, and accommodator. The learning styles are based upon the experiential learning theory. Kolb admitted he had been influenced by some great names in psychology such as Dewey, Piaget and Lewin. Each of the learning styles is a unique combination of two out of four modes of learning abilities: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. In learning style questionnaire that Kolb has designed, four words had used in order to identify these activities. The word of feeling is behind concrete experience. Watching expresses reflective observation. Thinking stay behind abstract conceptualisation. Doing labels active experimentation.
Concrete experience and reflective observation form the learning style construct of Diverger. Observation and feelings are key words rather than action and thinking. She/he is able to see a concrete situation under several perspectives and to generate several alternatives for a solution. Assimilator relies on abstract conceptualisation and reflective observation. People with this orientation to learning task tend to build theoretical models. Thinking and reflecting are the dominant concepts rather than feeling and acting. Converger is situated on the crossing point of abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. The basic words for indications are thinking and doing rather than watching and feeling. Person possessing this style prefers a well-structured learning situation with one correct answer or solution to be found. Accomodator is based on concrete experience and active experimentation. Doing and feeling are the key notions rather than watching and thinking. Accomodators prefer actions, to do things and to be involved in new activities. They rely very much on trial and errors approach.
The learning styles according to Honey and Mumford (1992) are activist, reflector, theorist, and pragmatic. They have described the learning preferences in relation to the four stages of learning cycle - experiencing, reviewing, concluding and planning.
Activist is associated with experience. The philosophy of activists is 'I will try anything once'. The people dominated by this style prefer first to act and than to think about consequences. They are very bored with analysis of the situation and implementation of the solution.
Reflector is associated with reviewing. People possessing this style like to consider their own experience and the experience of others from many different perspectives. Before going to any decision they prefer to analyse carefully the data.
Theorist is associated with concluding. Persons with this style are very good in assimilation of the facts into coherent theories. They consider everything in the light of particular assumptions, principles, theoretical models and systems. Their philosophy can be expressed by ' If it is logical it is good'.
Pragmatist is associated with planning. Pragmatists always look for the practical value of any idea. They would like to try the theories into practice. Their philosophy is 'If it is works, it is good'.
Apart from these two well known and largely used learning style models, there are some others you could be encountered with: Dunn & Dunn Learning Style, Grasha-Riechmann Learning Style, and Hill's Cognitive Style, H.Gardner learning styles.
The term of cognitive strategy to label a specific learning behaviour also has been using for a certain time. There are at least two points of distinction between styles and strategies.
Conscious selection of strategy versus spontaneously application of a style
Cognitive strategies refer to conscious decisions among alternative approaches as a function of task requirements and situational constraints. In contrast, styles are spontaneously applied in a wide scope of situations.
Stability versus flexibility
Styles are stable and relatively pervasive across different areas. Strategies in opposite are more flexible to change through the instruction.