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Learning Styles and Self-regulated Learning for Sciences

A learning style is not in itself a capacity yet rather a favoured method of utilising one’s abilities. Consequently, several styles are not classed as good or bad; each being diverse (Sternberg, 1994). It alludes to a concept where an individual differs as to the method of retaining, processing and absorbing information and skills which appears to be more effective for them (Pashler et al., 2009). Following an individual’s educational development, self-regulated learning can enhance the selection of learning styles. Considering that self-regulation is neither a mental capacity nor an academic skill, it rather refers to the process of self-directive through which students’ mental abilities are transformed into task-related skills (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001). Learning styles and self-regulated learning’s roles are considerably valuable for students in the Science Extended Degree – a course enriching students academically and personally to excel and progress into chosen future careers- as these roles are to be considered subsequently.

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Variances in students’ favoured thinking styles are essential since every individual is unique, contrasting in their thinking style, information processing and knowledge acquisition (Sternberg, 2001). Thus with Science Extended Degree students, each obtaining their own style of processing information and maintaining knowledge, however, according to Lockhart and Schmeck (1984), this difference in students’ learning styles may act as an indicator of their performance, as found by a few investigations. For instance, visual learning style learner would profit from the roles in which this learning style has towards the educational development of students in the Science Extended Degree, being that due to the course requirement of graph presentations, diagrams, lecture presentations and many other visual concepts, the student would perform sufficiently well in such activities. Interestingly, despite the fact that images and visual aspects can support the knowledge intake and information processing of a student, it can likewise be a role affecting their concentration, as visual students’ mind could tend to wonder (Little et al., 2015), specifically, on occasions where images are exhibited, such in lectures.

Inventory of VARK learning styles distinguishes four learner types, being visual, aural, read or write and Kinesthetic learners (Leite et al., 2010). Raiyn (2016) expressed the effectiveness of visual learning style through research and as shown in the figure below.

Figure 1: Comparison of higher-order thinking (HOT) skills regarding students with visual and traditional learning styles, according to Raiyn (2016). 

Visual learning has numerous roles regarding a student academic development, in which roles can incorporate the link or development to other compelling learning styles that support their academic performance in the Science Extended Degree, such as the advancement of visual thinking (Raiyn, 2016). According to Raiyn, leaners developing visual thinking become better-associating ideas and aspects of the subject together with images, as supported by figure 1. Acting as another role at which student in the Science Extended Degree will have the capacity of to utilise and recognise given tasks when it comes to assignments associated with graphs, tables and images, at which the Science Extended Degree course examines as a skill. As the course is not completely dependent on one learning style, other learning styles play many roles in students’ academic development. Aural learning style has a noteworthy effect on Science Extended Degree students, due to the over dependence of some modules on lectures and verbal explanation, learners with aural learning styles will capture and process much information, that can act as crutch for them when making notes or while being in exams, since they can review information heard easily (Gallo, 2006).

Followingly, kinesthetic learning style unlocks the doors for many students to comprehend through the practical process of understanding and retaining knowledge (Begel et al., 2004). As a role towards the educational development of Science Extended Degree students, the course consists of many aspects where students are examined and taught under physical activities, such in laboratory settings. Students with kinesthetic learning style would find such activities very useful and effective, supporting their process of information acquisition. However, students with such a style may experience the negative roles at which the role of this learning style could have affected with regards to the Science Extended Degree course structure. Students with this learning style would not efficiently process information delivered through lectures or activities where physical contributions are not present (Begel et al., 2004), this may act as negative role towards their progress and educational development. Conversely with reading and writing learning styles, where it would seem as an essential learning style for a student in the Science Extended Degree. According to the fact that lectures are mainly the style at which lecturers deliver their subjects, read and write learning styles support a role at which would consist of, firstly, making the process of knowledge acquisition by writing highly easy and beneficial for the student, as writing influences the adoption of wider knowledge and develop the student to be more capable of performing several types of presentation under various factors, such as assignment in addition to generating new ideas, as stated by Van Waes et al. (2014). Secondly, using this style utilises the presence and development of highly other beneficial skills and styles, including note-taking and organised studying, as students would tend to make further notes or process into further reading beyond the curriculum (Van Waes et al. 2014).

Entwistle and Waterston (1988) included that most beneficial learning strategies to course performance were active thinking and organised studying, as well as effective reflections, as stated by Jakoubek and Swenson (1993). Adding that prior research has suggested that the more analytical skills a student have – which is developed through the use of such strategies – the higher likelihood they are to perform academically good (Komarraju et al., 2011). Roles of active thinking include the ability to think to multiple aspects of a topic, providing a positive role to the learner, especially to Science Extended Degree students, where active thinking is essential for completion of some tasks, such as assignments and reflection blogs. Relating the role of active thinking to effective reflections styles, where the role is hugely affecting the academic performance of a Science Extended Degree student since reflections are highly encouraged and assessed by course staff. Feedback welcoming covers a wide area for a student educational performance in the Science Extended Degree, as being a reflective learner is a skill examined and assessed, and as stated by Payne et al. (2007), the process of receiving feedback and responding to it effectively can accrue to many benefits. Students in the Science Extended Degree may take feedback as another learning style in which they use to respond to actions and improve; role at which visualises weaknesses and areas of improvement for students so thinking and acting towards methods to improve is possible, resulting students to think more thoughtfully, putting their academic level up and more likely to perform better in their academia – according to prior research (Komarraju et al., 2011).

Visual, Kinesthetics or any other learning style differ regarding the effectiveness of their role, which depends on the student’s personality and personal abilities since learning styles preference would differ from a situation to another which, however, has long-term learning stability in learning, according to Kolb (1984). Preston (2016) noted taking into consideration that a single learning style cannot be taken as a fixed path, suggesting that students from the Science Extended Degree shall consider adaptive learning styles in which matches with their learning pattern and to be module conducted. As to Kolb’s (1984) suggestion that each student should recall balance between different learning styles, students in the Science Extended Degree should follow such pattern to achieve maximum academic potential and maintain more clear evidence of which strategy to use at which situation, evolving academic success. Whereas self-regulated learning would also be considered. The roles of each learning style would followingly differ in accordance to its effectiveness and effect on Science Extended Degree academic development. As roles such as the effect of using kinesthetics style of learning would seem more effective to a student academic development, only if conducted under situations where physical contributions are needed, such in labs. However, where in lectures or tutorials, for a role to count towards a student’s academic development, the learning style should be chosen as prior, being more effective to be note-taking in such learning environments.

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Learning styles and self-regulated learning are fundamental for a Science Extended Degree student academic development. According to Mega (2014), several theories previewed the fact at which self-regulated learners effectively build knowledge and use strategies interlinked with metacognition which they use to individually regulate their learning. It outlines a role of self-regulated learning that can contribute to course students’ academic development. The role is determined as presenting self- regulated learning as a guide to a student success and development in the Science Extended Degree. Linking to learning styles, this role can act as a further guideline for the student, pointing for them as to which method or path to proceed to for a specific task. When this role of guidance is to be contrasted against the roles of learning styles, this role would gain more respect due to being as a foundation process which is needed before considering into any further processes of choosing which method or style to use.

Self-awareness in addition to being aware of task requirements are values associated with self-regulated learning, as stated by McCann & Garcia (1999). This has a role towards students in the course, since having knowledge and awareness of their own capabilities will allow them to effectively know which styles to use which increases perseverance and result in them to avoid cognitions determined with academic development (Byrnes et al., 1999). Comparing to the guidance role of self-regulated learning, perseverance is much more important in supporting a student journey throughout the Science Extended Degree course, as with the absence of perseverance the student may struggle or even develop a fixed mindset at which will affect their academic development and, as a result, learning styles could not also come to play effectively if the student was not fully equipped to mentally recognise procedures to succeed. However, as perseverance is present, the student would proceed to also develop a controllable manner at which they can use to organise and monitor their own progress, contributing to their self-regulated learning, according to Ley and Young (1998).

Growth and fixed mindset are derived from self-regulated learning, where students with a growth mindset are the students who grant and appreciate effort for any given task (Hochanadel & Finamore, 2015). Hochanadel and Finamore (2015) also added that, in contrast to growth mindset, students with fixed mindsets are who think they were naturally born intelligent and so neglect the need to grant effort. These two mindsets can play a fundamental role in affecting a Science Extended Degree student’s development, as these mindsets determine how the student will respond to several tasks and challenges they may face during the course, with accordance to Hochanadel and Finamore (2015). Followingly, students with growth mindset will tend to develop and excel, whereas students with fixed mindset would find many obstacles during their study, with regards to their self-regulated learning and learning styles.

Thus, in accordance to learning styles and self-regulated learning, both have a complementary effect on a student doing the Science Extended Degree, as both learning styles and self-regulated learning are essential for success and development for course students. The roles of each category are highly effective for any student, however, although the role may not be effective at all occasions, rather, it would play a big role if the student understood the context of each and applied it to their situations. Self -regulated learning is also an essential block for success, not only in the Science Extended Degree, but in any academic aspect. Following from self-regulated learning, students’ mind-sets are to be correctly directed and controlled; operating growth mind-sets, which would relatively conduct effective self-regulated learning, following an effective choice and usages of learning styles that would contribute further to academical developments and success.

References

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