What is the best theory of learning style

Learning styles according to Kolb

The four most famous distinctions are Learning styles according to Kolb (1981). Learning then takes place on the basis of experience and is a constantly progressing process (Kolb 1984). "Depending on the disposition, the process of integrating the learning material into existing experiences is more abstract or more concrete. Which form is preferred depends on the personal preferences and characteristics of the learner. Whether abstract or concrete: at least that is for Kolb Learning is always a constantly progressing process in which experience is first collected and then processed. The entire process runs through a cycle of four phases. In phase one, concrete experiences are made. It is important that the learner is open to new things and the new ones Experiences first considered without prejudice. In phase two, more precise, reflective observation then takes place. The learning object is viewed from different angles. In phase three, this ultimately leads to an explanatory approach, a rule or a theory. The problem or the learning material becomes tangible, is taking shape, this theory, this he The clarification approach is then finally tested and tried out in practice for its suitability (phase four). New knowledge and experiences emerge from these results and the control loop starts all over again. People now combine these four phases in different ways, depending on their individual learning style. David Kolb identified four different learning styles and gave them strange names: the diverger, the assimilator, the converger and the accommodator. Two of them indicate how experiences are collected (abstract / analytical or more concrete / practical) and two indicate how these experiences are then processed (inwardly directed observation and reflection or outwardly directed concrete action). In many professional groups, one of these four learning styles or types of learning usually dominates. Here is a brief description of the four Kolb learning styles with information on the typical occupational fields "(Bleyer 2008).

The model was created in 1985 and is most common in German-speaking countries. There are four different learning styles:

  • Divers prefer concrete experience and reflective observation. Her strengths lie in the ability to imagine. You tend to look at specific situations from many perspectives and are interested in people. They have broad cultural interests and often specialize in artistic activities.
    In the original: Diverging (feeling and watching) - These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations several different viewpoints. Kolb called this style 'Diverging' because these people perform better in situations that require ideas generation, for example, brainstorming. People with a diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. People with the diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.
  • Assimilators prefer reflective observation and abstract conceptualization. Your strengths lie in the generation of theoretical models. They are prone to inductive reasoning and prefer to deal with things or theories rather than people. They integrate individual facts into terms and concepts.
    Originally: Assimilating (watching and thinking) - The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it in a clear logical format. People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style people is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
  • Convergers prefer abstract concept formation and active experimentation. Your strengths lie in the execution of ideas. They are prone to hypothetical deductive inferences and prefer to deal with things or theories (which they like to test) than with people.
    Originally: Converging (doing and thinking) - People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
  • Accommodation providers prefer active experimentation and concrete experience. Your strengths lie in the design of activities. They are prone to intuitive problem-solving through trial and error and prefer to deal with people rather than things or theories. They rely more on individual facts than on theories.
    In the original: Accommodating (doing and feeling) - The accommodating learning style is 'hands-on', and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people's analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They commonly act on 'gut' instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. People with an accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.

Even from the original names and descriptions it can be seen that Kolb was less concerned with a typology of people than with one of the behaviors. This can be illustrated graphically as follows:

Or shown as a learning cycle:

[Source: http://www.tu-dresden.de/sulifr/downloads/2009/lernertypen_pp.ppt]


Bleyer, Heinz (2008). Learning types according to David Kolb.
WWW: http://ww2.meome.de/freenet/finanzen/jobs/arbeiten/erfahren/lernen/kolb/index.html (08-08-08)
http://ww2.meome.de/freenet/finanzen/jobs/arbeiten/erffekt/lernen/kolb/02.html (08-08-08)

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lernstil (08-08-08)

http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm (08-08-08)

Kolb developed his own test to determine the four "types" (Learning Style Inventory, 1985), which, in a study by Timothy J. Rollins and Edgar P. Yoder, gave the following distribution:

Extension personnel by area of ​​assignment and learning style
Family living (n = 45)
County director (n = 33)
The study examined Extension staff members' learning style preferences and how they vary across primary assignment areas as a basis for designing in-service training and professional development activities.
All 299 Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension county staff members received a letter explaining the study, a brief questionnaire relating to their professional position, and the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (LSI). The results apply to the 211 (71%) people providing usable responses after one mailing (no follow-up).


The Kolb model represents a special approach in that it obviously has affinities to study and career choices, and that cognitive factors exist between people in diametrical positions of the Kolb model (“converger” to ““ divergent ”and“ assimilator ”to“ accommodator ”) Conflicts can arise, which can become noticeable as a disturbance, for example in group work or between teachers and learners (cf. Gabriel & Haller 1982).

The Long learning style inventory (cf. Twigg 2001) also differentiates between two dimensions, from which four learning styles result: aggressiveness vs. passivity and dependency vs. independence. The combination of these results in four types of learning styles: Aggressively dependent, aggressively independent, passive dependent and passive independent.

Gordon Pask's (1976, 1988) model is based on a dualistic approach and differentiates between serialists (who gradually move from concretions to abstractions) and holists (who continuously interfering between concretions and abstractions) as well as versatiles, which (probably contextually) can apply both patterns. See Learning styles according to Pask.

The learning styles of students

Kolb (1984) analyzed the cognitive requirements of domains such as engineering, social and political sciences and drew conclusions about the relationship between the learner type and the knowledge domain. While he saw engineers predominantly as convergers, he found the social and political scientists more in the divergent and the economists in the assimilative field. In his opinion, it remained unclear whether this distribution is the result of a selection before the start of training or a personal development and selection during training (Kolb, 1984, p. 88). Empirical findings support Kolb's assumption. In a virtual tutorial accompanying a lecture on economic policy at the University of Frankfurt, Bremer (2000) used a German version of Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (K-LSI) and found, in line with expectations, that over a third of the N = 111 students were assimilative Learner type, while the other three types were less frequent. Contrary to expectations, however, Kolodzey (2002) and Schäfer (2004) found an even distribution of learner types based on the same K-LSI in the investigation of various virtual seminars in the field of educational sciences at the University of Munich (N = 77 and N = 54) the seminar participants. An obvious explanation of this finding lies in the interdisciplinary character of the latter two seminars. In addition to the general distribution of students and their learning styles, the question arises of how the learners behave in the context of special design elements of virtual learning environments. Both Bremer (2000) and Kolodzey (2002) found similar behaviors, although the design of the seminars examined was different:

Both the divergent and the convergent participated intensively in the online learning activities and in the cooperation. The divergers enjoyed the cooperation, but in this regard were sometimes critical of the success of their group. The convergers showed a tendency towards individual work. Both types of learner reported a higher expenditure of time than the other two.

The accommodation providers accepted the virtual learning environment to a high degree and were happy to participate in the online tasks; however, they spent less time and found the available resources and support from the seminar leader to be inadequate. After all, they rated their learning success less than the other types of learners.

The assimilators were within an average range in terms of acceptance and motivation to learn and they got along with the tasks and with the virtual learning environment in general without any special problems.

In two problem-oriented virtual seminars at the University of Munich, Nistor & Schäfer (2005) initially found a discrepancy between the preferred and the task-induced learning style, whereby the use of a non-preferred learning style was associated with a statistically significant subjective additional effort on the part of the students. Against the background of their empirical findings and based on the assumption that learners generally tend to minimize their learning effort, they formulate a Hypothesis of learning style-oriented effort minimization: Learners will organize their own learning process in a virtual environment in such a way that they can use their preferred learning style to a greater extent. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the learning environment offers sufficient degrees of freedom in terms of self-directed learning.

source: Nistor, Nicolae & Schäfer, Monika (2005). Learning in style: empirical findings and open questions about the meaning of the learning styles in prelude seminars.
WWW: http://www.didacticageografiei.ro/ro/conferinta_2005/4.doc (06-06-08)
Bremer, C. (2000). Virtual group learning: role play and online discussions and the importance of learner types. In: F. Scheuermann (Ed.), Campus 2000. Learning in new organizational forms, Münster, 135-148.
Kolodzey, A. (2002). Learning in virtual environments and learner types. Evaluation of two problem-oriented virtual seminars taking into account the learner type, unpublished. Master's thesis, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich.
Schäfer, M. (2004) Learning styles and e-learning: Development and testing of a category system for analyzing learning styles in problem-oriented virtual seminars, unpublished. Diploma thesis, Bergische Universität Wuppertal.

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