David Kolb, an American psychologist, believes that the learner has to take an active part in the learning process, where the responsibility for success lies with the individual and not the teacher. This has been developed more fully into the experimental learning cycle, which emphasises the importance of problem solving abilities as well as understanding theoretical concepts in the way we learn.
The Kolb learning cycle model can be readily applied to the processes involved in developing your portfolio, which requires an analytical and reflective element to the activities you carry out:
Honey and Mumford, two British psychologists, have developed a means of assessing the way we learn most effectively. In their learning styles questionnaire, learners are asked to agree or disagree with 80 statements concerning the process of acquiring new skills and knowledge. Four different types of learning preference have been identified –activist, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists, depending on the responses to the questionnaire.
The activist has a preference to concrete experience.
The reflector has a preference to reflective observation.
The theorist has a preference to abstract conceptualisation.
The pragmatist has a preference to active experimentation.
Everyone learns by using a combination of these factors and people have a preference to one or more. Peoples preferences have an impact on how effectively they learn in difference situations.
A copy of this questionnaire follows. It provides an opportunity to understand how best you learn, and more generally, to find out how you will approach particular problem-solving situations which require novel solutions.
Finding your own learning style preference
There is no time limit to this questionnaire. It will probably take you 10-15 minutes. The accuracy of the results depends on how honest you can be. There are no right or wrong answers. If you agree more than you disagree with a statement put a tick by it. If you disagree more than you agree put a cross by it. Be sure to mark each item with either a tick or a cross. Answer each question in turn, not moving on until answered and without looking back. Remember the accuracy of the result depends on you honesty.
(1) I have strong beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad.
(2) I often ‘throw caution to the wind.’
(3) I tend to solve problems using a step -by-step approach, avoiding any ‘flights of fancy’.
(4) I believe that formal procedures and policies cramp people’s style.
(5) I have a reputation for having a no-nonsense style.
(6) I often find that actions based on ‘gut feel’ are as sound as those based on careful thought and analysis.
(7) I like to do the sort of work where I have time to ‘leave no stone unturned’.
(8) I regularly question people about their basic assumptions.
(9) What matters most is whether something works in practice.
(10) I actively seek out new experiences.
(11) When I hear about a new idea or approach I immediately start working out how to apply it in practice.
(12) I am keen on self-discipline such as watching my diet, taking regular exercise, sticking to a fixed routine, etc.
(13) I take pride in doing a thorough job.
(14) I get on best with logical, analytical people and less well with spontaneous, ‘irrational’ people.
(15) I take care over the interpretation of data available to me and avoid jumping to conclusions.
(16) I like to reach a decision carefully after weighing up many alternatives.
(17) I’m attracted to novel, unusual ideas than to practical ones.
(18) I don’t like ‘loose ends’ and prefer to