The Ultimate Learning Style Inventory
The Learning Style Experience is a new take on the typical learning style inventory. Typically, a student would answer questions about what they would do in learning situations to determine whether they are an auditory learner, visual learner, kinesthetic learner or those who learn from reading and writing, which generally fall under the VARK model.
Instead, the Learning Style Experience offers students a completely free and anonymous opportunity to discover their unique learning styles through learning experiences. The extraordinary platform covers three out of the original four axes of the Felder-Silverman model, spanning visual and verbal learning, active and reflective learning as well as global and sequential learning styles.
What Does The Learning Style Experience Offer?
Rather than a typical learning styles inventory questionnaire, the Learning Style Experience offers students the ability to complete a number of different game-like activities whereby they experience a number of games and puzzles, and we measure how they learn.
These games and puzzles have been designed with the Felder-Silverman learning style axes in mind, allowing students to discover the age-old question of what is my learning style?
What Is Learning?
As learners, it’s convenient to think about learning not from its fundamental processes involving neurons and axons but rather from the mental activities that we engage in when we learn.
Anderson, et al. (editor) in Bloom’s revised taxonomy (see our bibliography page) identified six different mental processes in learning, as found commonly in educational objectives. In approximate order of increasing difficulty, they are Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. Here’s a brief explanation of each:
Remember. Remember refers to the ability to retrieve information from your memory. It’s broken down into two specific processes: Recognize, and Recall. If you think about taking a test, can you Recognize the right answer when you see it (think: multiple-choice test), or can you Recall the right answer (think: fill-in-the-blank tests)?
Understand. Understand can be thought of as, can you follow a lecture or a reading on the topic? It requires knowing (being able to Remember) the vocabulary, how things are connected to each other, and being able to explain or summarize things.
Apply. Apply refers to procedure, whether it’s the procedure for completing long-division, or performing an experiment. You are able to Apply knowledge when you can carry out the procedure.
Analyze. Analyze includes being able to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, find and distinguish supporting and non-supporting evidence for a conclusion or result, and spot biases in points of view or presentations.
Evaluate. Evaluate means deciding against some external criteria whether something is true or valid or efficient or logical or superior. Things like judging the internal consistency of an argument of if a strategy is good fall under the category of Evaluate.
Create. Create refers to being able to plan and produce a product, such as an engineering design or a research paper or a solution to a difficult problem.
The Felder-Silverman Learning Styles
The Felder-Silverman learning styles model focuses on cognitive process, and is designed to help students use strategies to accelerate their learning. The model has four different areas of learning behavior. It’s helpful to think of them as axes, that is, as numerical scales where for each behavior you can be all the way at one end, or all the way at the other end, or somewhere in between. That is, each axis is a spectrum.
The axes of the Felder-Silverman model are:
Active Or Reflective. People who are Active learners like to “jump in” and try things and explore while they are learning. People who are Reflective learners tend to think more before they act.
Visual Or Verbal. Visual learners prefer a visual representation of what they are learning, such as a diagram, whereas a Verbal learner will prefer a spoken or written explanation.
Sequential Or Global. A Sequential learner learns by breaking things down into smaller more linear steps. A Global learner tends to be system thinkers and learns things in large, holistic steps. Sequential learners tend to be inductive, and can guess rules from examples. Global learners tend to be deductive and need to know the rules before they are confident they understand the examples.
Sensing Or Intuitive. Sensing learners prefer to deal with facts and data. Intuitive learners prefer abstract ideas and theories.
One thing that is not discussed very much in the learning style literature is how your learning style might be different for different courses or disciplines. For example, you might be largely “visual” for a science class but “verbal” for a language class. In fact, when it comes to adopting different study strategies the appropriate choice may very well have more to do with the class you are taking than what type of learning style you have. But it may be that even in a class that is necessarily verbal, organizing information visually would be helpful for a visual learner. Or in a class that is primarily visual (art, for example), a verbal learner get more value from writing summaries or descriptions of what they are seeing. This has not been shown to be the case in any peer-reviewed, repeatable way, however, so you should keep an open and skeptical mind about it.
In other words, if you think you have a particular learning style, but the techniques of that style aren’t working for you in a particular class, do something else!
The Learning Style Experience is built to measure three of the axes of the Felder-Silverman model and to measure them across five of the six cognitive processes of learning.
Here’s an example of the results you get from the Learning Style Experience
Your results are explained, along with tips about how to use this to your advantage:
Global learners often struggle with material until the see the “big picture.” They can even struggle until they understand how what they are learning in one class relates to what they are learning in another class.
To help your global side, work hard to see how what you are learning fits in with other things you know or are currently learning. Keep mindful of the overall understanding you are building. It might be helpful to draw a map or outline of the overall learning path you are taking so you can see how what you are learning fits into the larger context.
Sequential learners do best when they can learn in a linear fashion, step-by-step. They can get lost when steps are skipped.
To help your sequential side, fill in missing steps in the material, even if you have to go to outside sources. Make sure your notes make sense to you. Fortunately for you, most courses are taught in a linear fashion. In the case that you have an instructor who teaches in a non-linear fashion, you may find it helpful to create your own outline or flowchart of the lecture material, putting things into a linear order.
Your Global/Sequential Score
Your sequential score of 4 indicates that you are moderately inclined toward this learning style. You may find it helpful to employ the strategies of the opposite style in some situations.
The results of the active-reflective and visual-verbal axes are presented the same way. Your strengths for each of the five cognitive processes are covered as well, as shown in the example below:
Your Brain While Learning
Educators use six verbs to describe the mental processes of learning: Remember, Understand. Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. Our games included all of these except Create. You can see how your brain best handles these tasks. Below is a very brief synopsis or these terms as they are used by educational researchers, along with your relative strength(s) in that dimension based on our testing. Use the hints for each learning style strength given above if you are struggling in a certain area.
Note we don’t associate a numerical score with your preference in what follows.
“Remember” has two subsets: “Recognize,” and “Recall” (or “Retrieve”). You can think of the difference between a multiple-choice question (recognize) and a fill-in-the-blank question (recall). Specifically, we tested Retrieve, not Recognize.
Your stronger results for this process are:
In this classification of cognitive processes, “Understand” means that you can follow along a lecture or conversation. You have a basic vocabulary and know how things are related to each other.
Your strongest result for this process is:
Are Learning Styles Valid?
There is a large amount of evidence to suggest that learning styles are indeed valid; on the other hand there are also studies that indicate learning styles don’t exist as individual differences. You can see more about this controversy in our article Are Learning Styles BS?
What Kind Of Learner Am I?
Take a few minutes to try out the Learning Style Experience and discover what your strengths are as a learner. It’s free and completely anonymous.