Academic journal article International Education Studies

Do Ten-Year-Old Children in Sweden Know How They Learn? A Study of How Young Students Believe They Learn Compared to Their Learning Styles Preferences

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Do Ten-Year-Old Children in Sweden Know How They Learn? A Study of How Young Students Believe They Learn Compared to Their Learning Styles Preferences

Article excerpt


Students' individual learning strategies have been identified as important skills in order to succeed in school as well as important for lifelong learning. The Swedish steering documents are permeated by an epistemological and a methodological variation based on the individual student's learning. Learning how to learn has been identified by the EU as one of eight key competences. There is not much research on elementary school students and meta-learning. This study is therefore aimed to examine these students' own perceptions of their learning, and compare how student think that they learn to their learning styles preferences according to the learning styles assessment Learning Styles Inventory (LSI). The theoretical framework is based on previous Swedish research and Dunn's Learning Styles Model. A multi-method design was selected. After the LSI-test the students estimated their preferences. Finally, interviews were conducted with 15 students. When comparing students' learning styles profiles to their estimation of how they thought they learn, there was a clear discrepancy. The students estimated more preferences than was evident in the analysis. This applies above all to the perceptual strengths, and time of day. The smallest difference, however, was found in the environmental elements. The interviews showed that students have difficulties explaining how they learn. What the students pointed out, however, was their need to work in peace, learning by reading and working on the computer, and also varied learning environments. Their response on learning showed that they were building their insights on the school context and experience from there.

Keywords: meta cognition, ten- years-old students, learning preferences, elementary school, perceptions

1. Introduction

The teacher must begin by finding out what children's learning looks like in order to understand how children learn (Pramling, 1986). To be able to develop an understanding of their personal learning, to learn how to learn, is an invaluable skill. In order to be able to support students in lifelong learning and to support meta-learning, it is important to begin by acquiring knowledge of how children think that they learn and how they actually learn individually and successfully, to get perspective on their learning. Based on students' strengths and needs (learning strategies), teachers and parents can take care of and stimulate each child's individuality and encourage their optimal learning and growing for life. To promote the desire to learn and give students tools with which they can create their own learning strategies and gain self-awareness, is one of the teacher's most important tasks. Furthermore, it is essential that teachers understand students' individual learning when classes seem to be increasing in diversity.

There are studies of Swedish preschool children's perceptions of their learning, but not much has been carried out on students in primary school. In addition, when the didactic how-question has been researched, which may relate to how education is built up and how student and teachers think about a particular issue, the most dominate perspectives are activities and education (Hartsmar & Jönsson, 2010). These researches state there is an object of learning and there is an act of learning, and when the subject of learning is discussed and problemized it is mostly based on the best way to help the child understand the object of learning, rather than based on who or what children you are working with and why the selected content is important for them right here and now.

The present study is based in part on the students' own statements on how they think they are learning via semi-structured interviews, but also in estimates of how they learn compared to their individual learning styles profiles. There is plenty of research on children's/students' learning in preschool, school and at university, but there is no Swedish research on the learning experiences of primary students, and no research on how students estimate their learning compared to their learning styles profile. …

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