This essay will be describing in detail a few of the many different influences that can and do have an effect on learning; some of these have influenced me personally. This essay is like a self analysis looking from the perspective of the learner. It will be looking at the work of some key theorists to support and back up the points. It will also discuss how others can be helped to learn and the effectiveness of doing this. Learning is a process by which we acquire knowledge, skills and an understanding of abstract concepts.
You start learning from birth and the learning process continues through formal schooling and even right through to adulthood, they do say ‘you learn something new every day’. In everyday life we call our learning informal. Firstly there are some main theories of learning used to understand the way in which individuals learn. From experience the best way of influencing and progressing an individual’s learning is to actually know how you learn best, this will be either visually, auditory, kinaesthetically or tactilely.
I am an example of a visual learner taking in information best when it has come from something seen like pictures or information in a book, etc. When you know this you can then put it into practice by planning the learning, then actually doing it and finally reflecting on what has been learnt. One of the main theorists associated with learning is Kolb. Kolb looks at the ways adults learn referring to these as cognitive abilities, he says that learning processes begin as instinctive preferences during adolescence.
Kolb identified two pairs of opposing factors which, combined together, show learning as a cycle with four different stages of learning. Each stage can be entered at any time but for learning to be effective the stages must be followed in a sequence. As you can see from the diagram the four stages are concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. Kolb’s learning cycle can be applied to everyday practice.
Another important theory is the learning styles theory conducted by Honey and Mumford. They identified ways in which different employees learned and came up with four learning style preferences, reflector, theorist, activist and pragmatist. Honey and Mumford conducted a questionnaire in order to find out people’s preferred learning style/s (see appendix 1 for their questionnaire) Honey and Mumford (1986) stated that… ‘the learning style questionnaire is designed to probe the relative strengths of four different learning styles’.