ICT 1 Section 1 – The learning cycle and types of learners
How we learn as envisioned by David Kolb
The KOLB learning cycle
This is a bit of a philosophical one to start with, but you must get a good idea about what learning is before you try and teach. The following diagram depicts the Experiential Learning cycle as perceived by the prominent behaviourist David Kolb.
Kolb divides learning into four phases (diagram below):
- Presentation of concrete experience, in our case, the English language
- Analysis of the subject material through reflective observation
- Practice use of the material through abstract conceptualisation in non-Kolb terms means using the material in a controlled, simulated environment
- Application of the material through active experimentation, in other words, using what is learned in real situations
As a teacher, you are involved in the first three stages. Initially, to present [PRESENT] the material that will be studied and answer any questions that your students may have [REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION] about the explanation you give.
Once the material has been presented, you'll move on to give examples of when the material you have introduced for the study could be used [ANALYSE]. You should also ask your students for their input to see if they can relate to what you want to teach [ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALISATION]. Once they have a decent grasp of the idea, you then get them to practice [PRACTICE] and experiment [ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION] with the material.
Stage 4 [APPLY] and [CONCRETE EXPERIENCE] is when the student is out of the classroom and uses what was learned in real life.
Kolb's cycle very much mirrors the learning experience and identifies the key points you'll need when you teach. It's a compelling but straightforward structure.
Types of students
Another prominent educationalist, Bernice McCarthy PhD, helps us by giving us a statistical classification for learner types.
Feeling and watching, seeking personal associations, meaning involvement. The critical question is WHY?
Listening to and thinking about information, seeking facts, thinking things through, learning what the experts think. The critical question is, WHAT?
Thinking and doing, experimenting, building, creating usability. The critical question is, HOW?
Seeking hidden possibilities, exploring, learning by trial and error, self-discovery. The critical question is IF?
Learning styles and preferences
McCarthy has also published some statistics about learning preferences.
30% of students learn by listening
- Learn from spoken instruction
- Written information has little meaning until it has been heard
65% of students learn by seeing and writing
- Relate most effectively to written information, notes, diagrams, and pictures
- Can be verbal (sees words) or pictorial (sees pictures)
- Think about pictures, uses colour
5% of students learn by doing
- Remember what was done, not seen or talked about
- Don't "hear" things well
- Learn through touch and movement in space
To be a good teacher, you must adapt to Kolb's helping students' structure through the learning process. You have to know when and, just as importantly, when not to talk to let the students evolve.
Your skill lies as much in your English knowledge as it does in managing how you and your students interact.
You must understand the learning process to teach effectively.
Kolb's cycle means that you must be an effective communicator when teaching.
Our course will show you how to teach using the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP) styles.
You must also appreciate what type of learners you have in the classroom. Most people don't fit neatly into McCarthy's definitions. One person can exhibit different aspects of learning as per the McCarthy descriptions.
Your role is to spot what type of learning role each of your students is exhibiting for you to match your teaching style to their level of knowledge reception.
This adaptation by you to your students' needs is called Learner Centred teaching, and you'll hear a lot more about it on the course.