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Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory
David Kolb's experiential learning theory was designed to identify patterns in learning and categorize them into groups. Kolb found that people learn differently based on their experiences during the learning process. His theory allows teachers to get a better idea of how their students learn. Kolb found four different universal learning styles. He concluded that students can be classified as divergers, convergers, accomodators, and assimilators. A detailed description of each can be found below.
Teachers can benefit from using a learning style inventory in their classroom because it highlights the strengths of their students and can help them implement the best teaching models. For example, if a teacher finds that a majority of his/her students are hands on learners, it would be best to incorporate more activities into learning rather than just lecturing.
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Divergers are learners that like to "diverge" into the subject matter by analyzing the subject from many different perspectives. They are observers. Divergers are investigators trying to find all of the clues that lead up to the final conclusion. Divergers are very good at coming up with ideas and learn through brainstorming. Divergers work well in groups and often look for praise and feedback. They learn best through hands on activities, or any activities that allow them participate in a process of discovery.
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Convergers like to know how things work. They like to come up with an idea and test it to see if it is plausible. Convergers like to work with concrete facts. They are very precise in their work and will tweak small ideas to make changes to seek accuracy. Convergers rely on practicality. They are often very good at taking multiple choice tests which have concrete answers. Convergers operate through deductive reasoning to solve problem. They are very independent and often prefer to work alone.
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Accomodators are the most hands on of all of the four learning styles. They learn best from experience and tend to jump in and do things. They are motivated more by the action of doing rather than thinking or listening. Therefore, they are much more successful in a classroom that incorporates hands on activities rather than one that relies solely on lectures. Accomodators tend to be risk takers and work best alone or in groups with other Accomodators.
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Assimilators are very opposite of Accomodators. Instead of learning through doing, they enjoy learning through thinking and processing. They thrive well in the lecture setting, and often respect and appreciate the knowledge of experts on the subject matter. Like Convergers, Assimilators are highly concerned with precision and accuracy and work from a strong logical approach. They operate though a mode of inductive reasoning. Assimilator's work well when concepts are organized and logical.
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Learning Styles Inventory
There are many benefits from identifying your personal learning style, as well as assessing the learning styles of the students that you teach in the classroom. Knowing how your students learn is vital to their success in your class. Because you will most likely have a mixture of learners in your classroom, it is important to incorporate many different teaching techniques in your curriculum. You do not want to leave any particular group of learners out. Be careful not to simply teach to those of your own learning style. It is important to recognize that others may have completely different modes of understanding.
There are many different Kolb learning style inventories that can be found online. Once you have figured out which learning styles are most dominate in your particular class setting, you can then begin to plan which teaching techniques would benefit your class the most.