The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design, and Education

By Serbrenia J. Sims; Ronald R. Sims | Go to book overview
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Preface

Perhaps at no other time has there been more discussion, thinking, and tension about issues in higher education than there is now. Of major concern is the question of how to teach to the motivational and learning characteristics of students who make up an increasingly diverse student body. Thus, one of the most significant challenges that higher education instructors and trainers face is to be tolerant and perceptive enough to recognize learning differences among their students and trainees.

While much has been written about learning styles, many higher education instructors and trainers still do not realize that students vary in the way that they process and understand information or attempt to respond to those differences in their pedagogical efforts. The notion that all cognitive skills are identical at the collegiate level or in different training programs smacks of arrogance and elitism by either sanctioning one group's style of learning while discrediting the styles of others or ignoring individual differences altogether.

Effective teaching and training cannot be limited to the delivery of information; rather, it needs to be based on a model of minds at work. Effective instructors are those who understand the importance of involving all of their students in learning how to learn. Effective learning occurs when instructors affirm the presence and validity of diverse learning styles and maximize the climate or conditions for learning in and out of the classroom through the deliberate use of instructional design principles that take account of learning differences and increase the possibilities of success for all learners.

-xi-

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