This assignment will be discussing on why it is believed that learning styles are useful to student nurses. In addition, it will focus on the students dominant learning style, acknowledging her own strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas where it is necessary to improve her weaker style and how these can be built on for the future.
Kolb’s (1984), Experiential learning model defines learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (p.26). Fleming (2001) defines learning style as “an individual’s characteristics and preferred ways of gathering, organizing, and thinking about information” (p.1).
According to Honey and Mumford learning styles (2006), we are all the product of our own learning, including everything we know, everything we do, everything we believe and everything we have learnt.
Learning styles can be defined as a process where each person has different learning styles and method in which they learn. This depends on who and the type of learning they are.
Everyone has different personalities and preferences on their likes and dislikes. Some people also tend to have different learning steps that act as guidelines to their personal learning style. Once student nurses have an idea on their learning style preferences, they will find it much easier to make some important decisions and choices for themselves. Indeed, Honey (2006) stated that learning styles preferences can be ”a revelation”.
The understanding of learning styles will be useful to student nurses because it allows student nurses to have a better chance of overcoming any difficult situation. Having a good understanding of how we learn can help us make smarter choices (Bishop, Bixby, & Kravits et al, 1999).
Understanding of learning styles will be useful for student nurses as it allows them to be successful on their nursing programme because knowing how they learn will significantly increase their chances of securing the best possible environment necessary for efficient work being carried out amongst members of the team. Some studies suggest that identification of learning strategies best suited for different learning styles may increase the learning effectiveness of each individual student and will increase student adaptive flexibility to alter their learning styles to respond to the learning demand of specific environment Carnell et al, 2000).
In addition, an understanding of learning styles will allow student nurses to effectively target areas where an improvement is required. Duff (2004) suggests that:
Students with a preference for a deep approach to studying as individuals who look
for meaning in what they are learning and enjoy the learning activity; make
connections to previous learning; use logic, reasoning, and evidence well; and
examine critically what they have learned and are learning. (p.56).
Student nurses with a preference will enjoy studying and organising their routines and managing their time in order for them to reach their highest grade possible.
Understanding of learning styles will be useful to student nurses as it would help them identify the flaws present in their learning style. When they are able to recognise their learning style, it allows them to develop effective and appropriate skills amongst each other. Knowing their learning opportunities and the way which they learn best will make learning easier, more effective and more enjoyable. It saves them ”Tackling their learning on a hit and miss basis” When they are equipped with different ideas and information about their learning preferences it will allow them to have more ”hits and fewer misses” (Honey, 2006).
When they acquire enough information about their learning styles, it enables them to locate areas that are harder and tricky to navigate for themselves. Understanding of their learning styles as a student nurse will improve their self-confidence and improve their self-image.
Knowing their learning style as a student nurse will give them insight on their strengths and weakness and will enable them to enjoy their learning process. According to Heffler (2001), ”the individual learning has both strengths and weaknesses depending on what is to be learnt and how” (p.307-316).
Understanding of their learning styles will enable them to stay up to date professionally and help improve co-operation among their colleagues. Furthermore, understanding each style has an advantage and disadvantage. Knowing their learning styles will expand them as a person and help them to work and learn more effectively and more efficiently. Understanding of learning styles as a student nurse will let them learn their way through their own best strategies.
We all have different personalities, so everyone has different ways of learning. We do not usually choose the type of activities that best suits us because we are unaware that some methods suit us and some do not (Jasper, 2003). According to Jasper (2003) ”Most of the learning that we are aware takes place in a formal learning situation where teaching and learning methods are not chosen by us but are imposed by other such as teachers, mentors and lecturers” (p.44)
My own dominant traits found from my Honey (2006) questionnaire includes; reflector, theorist and pragmatist. No-one learns completely in just one style, we all tend to fall under the one descriptor and borrow characteristics from the others (Kolb 1984).
Gaining awareness in ways I learn best will be useful for me and will help me learn effectively in a way that suits me. ”Students with a preference for a strategic approach to studying want to organize their studying routines, manage their time, and learn what is expected to achieve the highest grade possible.” (Duff 2004, P. 56-72).
As a reflector, when with a group of friends, I listen to their opinions and apply my own understanding to the discussion before putting points across to other people to hear. I always prefer to take a thoughtful approach in whatever I have been told through using different perspectives. When I have been corrected about something, I always like to make decisions in my own time. At the end of the day, I always have the opportunity to think about what has happened throughout my day, what I have learned and what I could have done better.
Although I generally have the opportunity to reflect on what has happened and how I could improve it, I am sometimes forced into situations that involve taking action without planning. For example, in the first day of my clinical placement, I was asked by one of the staff nurses to wash the patient, which I found quite difficult as I did not have much experience in that.
As a theorist, Reflecting back on my past experience, I feel hesitant contributing to group work due to lack of confidence which then reflect in my work because when given an assignment, I tend to rush through them without planning and I struggle with time management.
When given any tasks to carry out, I always ensure that I think through them step by step. I am quite good at asking probing questions for example ‘what exactly do you mean by that’. During my placement, when working with my mentor I discovered that I always ask the same questions repeatedly which got my mentor frustrated at times. I always find myself with people who ask searching questions. Also, I create time to explore the association and inter-relationships between ideas, events and situations.
However, I feel uncomfortable with subjective matter and my approach to problems is always logical. I tend to be detached and dedicated to logical objectivity rather than anything subjective and often take unnecessary risks when doing things. I feel out of tune with other participant for example when I am with a lot of activists.
As a pragmatist, during my placement, I observed how staff nurses worked in practice through ensuring providing good quality of care for the patient. All I learnt from my placement, I always ensure that I give myself an opportunity to try out what I have learnt and concentrating on the practical issues such as action plans. I am more comfortable in learning from a demonstration by someone showing me how it can be done.
On the other hand, I am not very interested in theory or basics principles and tend to focus on tasks, instead of people which have made me impatient during any discussion with people. Although, I test things out in practice but I am likely to reject things without obvious application and I involve myself in unstructured activities where uncertainty is high.
Knowing my own dominant learning has helped me recognise that other people approaches the same situation in a complete different way from me and this has helped me access the ability to learn from experiences. David Kolb (1984).
Reflecting back on the feedback from Honey (2006) questionnaire, I realised that my score for activist is low so In order to strengthen my Activist style, according to Argyris (1962 ”emphasizing the process of how to learn, how to diagnose administrative situations, how to learn from experience- these are timeless wisdom” (p.101-433).
I will need to ensure that I learn from other people’s experience rather than just focusing on my own experience. This will benefit me as it would reduce the risk of making mistakes. To strengthen my activist style, I will experiment and involve myself with new and unfamiliar routines.
I will involve myself more into conversations with other people, getting ideas off them and working as a team to solve problems. To strengthen my activist style, I will learn from new experiences opportunities and throw myself into tasks I think are difficult and challenging.
Also, to strengthen my activist style, involve myself in more activities that require activist’s characteristics and ways of learning such as participating in situations emphasising emotions and feelings and listening more and reading about different ideas that emphasise logic.
In conclusion, I have gained awareness about the ways in which I approach life, my attitude, beliefs and how I will use all these to exploit my learning opportunities throughout my course. Having recognised, explored on my previous experience, my own characteristics and approaches to life I can be able to actively plan to build up in succeeding on my course and while out in practice.