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Describe what psychologists have discovered about teaching styles.

A teaching style is the strategy and method that a teacher adopts. Being
aware of your own abilities and learning style enables learning to be adapted
according to the preferred method. That said, everyone responds to and
needs the stimulus of all types of learning styles to one extent or another.
The most important thing is understanding when and how to use it when it
best fits the given situation and the individuals preferred learning style.
Bennet 1976 distinguishes between informal and formal teaching styles. In
the formal style the student is taught separately and the teacher sees that
person as an individual. The teacher is also in charge of the class and assigns
seating plans and restricts the students movement. This form of teaching is
mostly a teacher-centred approach. On the other hand the student centred
approach is the informal style of teaching. The emphasis here is on the
students. This is where the teacher expects them to take a much more active
role in their learning. The teacher allows the students to negotiate and
decided their own seating plan. Theres no emphasis on academic
achievements and they rely on internal sources for motivation. This kind of
approach usually produces children that are more creative and thoughtful.
Another way of categorising teaching styles comes from Fontana (1995), who
divided teaching into high- and low-initiative styles. High-initiative teachers
could have either formal or informal style lessons, for example. A highinitiative teacher is aware of the individual needs of her students and allows
them to develop their skills and ablative by supporting and encouraging them
to perform at much higher level. This can be done by feeding their selfconfidence and allowing them to make independent decisions. The teacher is
also willing to learn from her students and see her own flaw and mistakes. A
low-initiative teacher tends to do the opposite of what a high initiative
teacher aims to achieve. Although this is true no teacher can be extremely on
one side or for another a lot of teachers will have different qualities and
features of each side.
Kyriacou and Wilkins (1993) wanted to asses teaching styles. This required
the ability to measure teaching styles in a quantitative manner, so that a
comparison could be made. This was done by using a semantic differential
scale which was created to assess how teacher-centred or student-centred
teaching styles were. Teacher-centred styles are the same as what Bennett
(1976) would term a formal teaching style. Student-centred styles would be
classed as informal. The scale is set up using polar adjectives at each end
with five points between the two extremes. The person needs to decide
where between the two ends they fall. Even though this provides great
insight into a persons learning abilities there is still the debate as to whether
it is valid to sort people into categories and not take into consideration how
diverse and unique every individual is. Another major issue in measuring
learning styles is labelling people into distinct categories and this can be
dangerous to an individual that is given a negative label or a label that does

not suite their personality, this leads to ethical issues. A lot of these test lack
reliability and we can be given different results on different tests. This raises
a lot of doubt on how good the test actually is.
David Kolb developed his learning styles model in 1984 in order to measure
learning and teaching styles. Kolb's experiential learning theory works on two
levels: a four stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles. Much
of Kolbs theory is concerned with the learners internal cognitive processes.
Kolb states that learning involves the achievement of abstract concepts that
can be applied flexibly in a range of situations. In Kolbs theory, the drive for
the development of new concepts is provided by new experiences. Kolb
viewed learning as a combined process with each stage being equally
supportive of and feeding into the next. The learner can enter the cycle at
any stage but must follow t in sequence. Learning only occurs when the
learner is able to perform all four stages of the model. Therefore, all the
stages are important and effective to learning
Kolb's learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning
cycle in which the learner experiences all four situations. First, Concrete
Experience the learner has to experience a new situation. Second,
Reflective Observation When there is a new experience its important that
theres no conflict between the experience and understanding it. Third,
Abstract Conceptualization The learner must reflect on the new ideas, or
modify existing schemas. Last, Active Experimentation- the learner must
apply the new information to the world around them to see the results. An
example of this being applied to real life situations would be when a teacher
provides students with new information where they must than observe
different situations and reflect upon the ideas with their available ideas and
this ay lead them to forming new abstract ideas and conclusions which is
used in an exam to test their understanding in real life situations.
Kolb's learning theory also has four distinct learning styles, which are based
on a four-stage learning cycle. First learning style is diverging (feeling and
watching), these people prefer to watch rather than to do, to gather
information and then use it to solve problems. There good at looking at ideas
from different perspectives and brainstorming. Second, Assimilating
(watching and thinking) these people require good clear explanations and are
less focused on people ad more interested in ideas and abstract concepts.
Third, people with a converging (doing and thinking) learning style are more
attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues.
Fourth, accommodating (doing and feeling) these people tend to rely on
others for information and then carry out their own analysis. This is another
great way to measure a persons learning style but it also raises a lot of
issues like learning styles may have low predicate validity. The referred style
of learning that we may have right now can easily change as time passes.
Not only does it differ for each person but it can also differ according to the
task at hand. And the fact that we cant easily take it upon ourselves to sort
people into distinct categories.
Although Kolb studied the ways in which we can determine what learning
style a student uses, McCarthy wanted to improve learning and make it more

effective. He achieved this with his 4-MAT which is an approach that matches
learning styles with teaching styles. It was designed to ensure that every
student is exposed to their preferred learning style. This system I based on
Kolbs learning styles. McCarthy identified four stages which are
called motivation (creating a learning experience), concept development
(discussions about the learning experience), practice (complete tasks that
relate to the learning experience) and application (apply the things that you
learned to new concepts and situations). Each of these will be best suited to
different learning styles. Its extremely easy to use and can be used b all ages
and ability levels so it can be said to have some validity. This makes it a great
way to allow students to choose their preferred learning style and gives them
an opportunity to use other styles. This can avoid labelling learners to one
specific learning style. However, it still implies that they have one dominant
style and possess other distinct learning styles. Another issues is the fact that
there is no scientific evidence to support this

Another psychologists tried to improve learning Mulcahy 1986 proposed the


SPLET method. This approach takes children that already knows how to learn
and has an understanding about hat their learning and makes them think
about it (metacognition). This makes them understand how they learn more
effectively. SPLET has three stages that produce metacognition. Firstly, the
teacher raises the students awareness of learning strategies and teaches
metacognitive skills and strategies. Secondly, the teacher has to allow
students to develop learning processes by themselves and practice them.
The teacher can help but the student has to evaluate the strategies by
themselves. Lastly, students develop new cognitive strategies that are most
effective for them as individuals which allows them to think for themselves
and work independently. The teacher no adopts a more informal approach
because she understand that the student is more in charge of he own
learning.

Mulcachy also develpoedthe PQRST. This is a 5 stage system for learning and
improving the ability to study information from textbooks. The first stage is
preview, the student skims the text and glances over the main headings of
the textbook. Second, the student formulates questions to be answered after
the preview. Third, the student reads through the text a, focusing on the
information that best answers his questions. Fourth, self-recitation, the
student recites the information either aloud or sub vocally to see how well
they remembered the information. Last, the student tests whether they
answered the questions correctly and can recall them easily. PQRST is a great
method to use for school and is supported by experimental evidence and this
has shown to improve skills in a variety of subjects.
In conclusion Both Kolb's (1984) learning stages, cycle and Kyriacou and
Wilkens method could be used by teachers to measure childrens teaching
styles and to develop more appropriate learning opportunities. McCarthys 4
MAT theory and Mulcachys SPLET method are both effective ways to improve

learning and studying skills in students. Individuals can be helped to learn


more effectively by the identification of their lesser preferred learning styles
and the strengthening of these through the application of the experiential
learning cycle.