There is a growing interest in understanding how people like you learn.
As psychologists you will probably come across some of the research literature - particularly if you develop an interest in educational psychology. Here are some research findings that may help you understand your own approach to learning.
Having read this section you may decide to change your approach to your studies, particularly if you think you are an extreme example of one of the categories.
Ideally you should aim to develop an approach to your studies that draws upon the strengths of each style, whilst avoiding some of the more negative attributes.
At the very least this page may help you understand why you are being exposed to a variety of learning experiences.
The researchers administered a questionnaire (the Self-Knowledge Inventory of Lifelong Learning Strategies ) to 1,143 students in Alberta and used cluster analysis and group interviews to collect supplementary information to characterize learning patterns and preferences from representative students in each of the five types of learning strategies.
I have gone through the report and tried to extract a flavor of each learning strategy. You may recognise yourself in one of the groups. I have also tried to alert you to some of the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy. You already appreciate that your program of psychology courses utilize a variety of teaching techniques, ranging from conventional lectures to group work which involves cooperative work with other students.
You may already realize that you are more comfortable in some learning situations than others. For example, you may prefer lectures to working with other students in groups on a Case Report. The reason for this may be your personal learning strategy. If you can begin to understand how learning strategy interacts with particular teaching methods and experiences, you may be able to get more out of teaching situations that you don't personally feel at ease with. Don't give up on a particular type of teaching situation, try to understand what it offers you. It will almost certainly be a valuable educational experience that you would have rejected if left to your own devices and desires.
I am conscious that my description of the five learning strategies reads a bit like an astrology column in a newspaper. You may recognise yourself in one or several of the categories. I don't know if learning strategies are stable or change with time or situation - I bet they do. Nor do I know how well the categories would translate across cultures. But this research may help you & that's what matters in the long run.
You can read a report on this research online - Identifying groups of learners through the use of learning strategiesby Kolody et al, 27th Annual SCUTREA conference proceedings 1997
|Deep learning approach||Surface or shallow learning approach|
|Develop personal understanding||Reproduce content 'parrot-fashion'|
|Relate new information to previous knowledge
|Passive acceptance of ideas and information|
|Link ideas together using integrating principles||Lack of recognition of guiding concepts, principles & patterns|
|Relate evidence to conclusions||Focus learning on assessment requirements|
Do you think that what you learn is under your own control and are you doing it because it is intrinsically rewarding?
In other words do you view learning as self-regulatory and intrinsically rewarding? Or, do you think that lecturers are responsible for teaching you, and they they control the rewards and punishments in the learning situation? In other words do you view learning as externally controlled and extrinsically rewarding?
Research indicates that students who rely on self-regulation and intrinsic reward are more effective learners than those who believe learning is under external control and extrinsic reward. There is evidence that learners can improve their performance by modifying their beliefs about the forces that control their learning.