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Arzu - a detailed analysis
of a language learner
by Kendall Peet
- 2

Learning style

I selected three varieties of test to evaluate Arzu’s learning style:(3) Dunn and Rienhart’s four modalities of learning (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, and tactile)(4) , Howard’s Multiple Intelligences(5) , and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)(6); each model focuses on a different aspect related to learning: cognitive processing, intelligence, and psychological make-up.

Test results

The modality test results were generally consistent with the multiple intelligence tests in identifying Arzu as an auditory learner first, a kinaesthetic/tactile learner second, and a visual learner third . The multiple intelligence tests also indicated that Arzu is more interpersonal than intrapersonal in her learning style preference, which is consistent with my observation of Arzu in class; Arzu appears confident and is usually talkative (when not tired from work); she participates well in group activities and appears to like activities involving variety and movement, especially games. The MBTI tests also identified Arzu as more an extroverted, active learner than an introverted passive learner. Furthermore, the MBTI tests revealed that Arzu is a global learner, preferring to learn in chunks and to move from the general to the specific.(7)

In the self-evaluation, Arzu identified herself as being more inclined to an introverted approach to learning, which is also apparent in class: Arzu works well on her own and seems to enjoy the quiet work periods just as much as the more active, participative classroom activities. However, when we discussed the test results, she agreed with the findings from the tests, feeling that on the whole she was more interpersonal than intrapersonal.

In addition to evaluating the test results, I also garnered information from reading through the answers to individual questions: for example, Arzu indicated that she finds it hard to “sit still for very long”); she is organised , though often late; she likes to learn through doing ); she also likes to work with facts and topics that relate to the real world ; she prefers to have a general idea of where she is going before she starts something ; she finds visuals helpful , in keeping with the results from the MBTI tests; she likes writing letters/emails , but is not a particularly keen reader ; she also likes spontaneity .

Implications

Ideally, it would be best to design a curriculum to match Arzu’s particular learning style and needs, because, as one might logically assume, students are better able to learn if teaching methods match their preferred learning styles.(8) However, in situations where individuals form part of a class, as is the case in Arzu’s learning situation, it will be necessary to adopt a wide variety of approaches, incorporating different cognitive learning strategies, to accommodate individual learning styles.(9)

3. Keefe, J.W. (1979, in Reid 1987). p. 1-17. Keefe and Ellis, more accurately define learning style as the interaction of cognitive, affective, and psychological traits that determine the way in which a person perceives, conceptualizes, organizes and recalls information
4. Dunn, R. (1983). p. 49, 496-506
Rienhart, H. (1976). p. 60, 160-168
5. Gardner, H. (1993). p.7. Gardener defines intelligence as “the ability to solve problems”. He lists 8 types of intelligence, including Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Body-kinaesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist.
6. The MBTI is the most widely used testing model to assess learner learning styles and relevant learning needs.
7. The MBTI test may be prejudice toward visual learning as the MBTI tests identify most learners as visual learners (refer to summary page Appendix 2, Test 4). Arzu felt that she was more auditory than visual.
8. Reid, J. (1987). p. 87-111. In this article Reid reports on research findings published by Domino (1979).
9. Skehan, Peter. (1989). Skehan lists 13 separate cognitive learning strategies.

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