Understanding the Learning Styles of Students: Implications for
by James Poon Teng Fatt, Lecturer, Nanyang Business School,
Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 63978
As education is an expensive investment in the future of students,
much emphasis is on the curriculum and values of education to meet
the needs of industry. There is also an awareness of the interaction
between students, teachers and course materials, but what about the
emphasis on the process of student learning?
That students learn is taken for granted because students are
assumed to be academically capable of understanding lessons and
assignments. The majority of them pass anyway. To those unfortunate
few who fail, the blame is on their academic standard or the teaching
methods, but what about the way students learn? Because the way
teachers teach is best left to the teachers alone, can we allow our
students to learn their own way while we teach our own way?
Ideally, the way teachers teach should match the way students
learn. The concern of educators should be the students’ style of
learning. Educators can then adapt their teaching styles to suit the
learning styles of students. The aim is to understand from the
heterogeneous mix of student learning styles the group learning style
so that teachers can best adapt their teaching style and materials to suit
the students’ group learning style.
Defining Learning Style
Learning styles are characterised as cognitive, affective, and
psychological behaviours that indicate how learners perceive, interact
with, and respond to the learning environment (NASSP, 1979).
Learning style may also be defined as the tendency to adopt a
particular strategy in learning. Most students have a preferred learning
style but some may adapt their learning styles according to the tasks.
Those who adapt are referred to as having a ‘versatile’ learning style
(Pask, et al., 1977).
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