Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

By Robert J. Sternberg; Li-Fang Zhang | Go to book overview

5—
Conceptions, Styles, and Approaches within Higher Education: Analytic Abstractions and Everyday Experience
Noel Entwistle
Velda McCune
University of Edinburgh
Paul Walker
University College London

Introduction

In research on learning and thinking styles, one of the continuing debates concerns the appropriate level of description. Observed behavior and interviews about learning draw attention to the marked differences between individuals and to the complex effects of differing learning environments. In contrast, much of the research effort has been to simplify this complexity and identify underlying constructs that provide a precise language to describe and discuss everyday observations and experiences. Even within the research literature, the theoretical constructs differ in their range and scope: some describe global concepts having wide generality, whereas others relate to a specific situation. These contrasting levels of description have emerged in answer to different research questions and are rooted in differing theoretical perspectives. In deciding which conceptual framework to adopt, both purpose and context have to be considered.

In this area, educational research from a psychological perspective is generally directed toward a deeper understanding of teaching and learning processes in everyday contexts, with the ultimate intention of improving

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