22 SES 07 C, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
While it is accepted that individuals do learn in different ways (Zhang, Sternberg, & Rayner, 2012), there remains a lack of understanding of how cognitive styles research can be used to inform pedagogy within higher education (HE) environments despite the considerable utility of the concept (Evans & Kozhevnikov, 2011). The term styles is used broadly in this article to encompass cognitive styles, learning styles, approaches to learning and learning patterns.
In this presentation we will outline key principles of an effective inclusive participatory pedagogy and in doing so we will demonstrate the translation of effective styles research into practice as part of supporting and enhancing critically reflective learning and teaching within 21st century learning environments.
The key objective of this article is to demonstrate how a Personal Learning Styles Pedagogy (PLSP) can be used effectively in the development and delivery of curricula at postgraduate level using one example of practice (case study) at a UK higher education institution. We will discuss the implications of our findings from this case study and from our ongoing applications of this approach (2009-2014) for further research and practice. In explicitly outlining our approach, we hope that colleagues will see the relevance of the application of the PLSP across disciplinary and different cultural contexts. Our approach has strong relevance to both European and wider international research communities where the PLSP approach has been found to be highly attuned to current discourses regarding culturally inclusive pedagogical practices.
A key issue has been the lack of effective translation of cognitive styles research into practice (Goswani, 2006). We will demonstrate what constitutes an enriched, as opposed to an impoverished, styles pedagogy from a systematic review of the literature integrating education, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience perspectives and from implementation of our model over the last 5 years.
Cognitive style represents individual differences in cognition that help an individual to adapt to the particular environment (see Kozhevnikov, 2007). Cognitive style is in turn also shaped by an individual’s interactions with an environment. All styles if they include cognitive processing can be referred to as cognitive styles (Kozhevnikov, 2013). When discussing differently named constructs (cognitive styles, learning styles, approaches to learning, and/or patterns of learning), there are over-arching themes that apply to all these areas of study which have important implications for learning (as argued by Evans and Vermunt, 2013). We know that cognitive styles do matter impacting on how individuals navigate their learning (Zhang, Sternberg, & Rayner, 2012). To support self-regulatory development and specifically metacognitive skill development, learners need to be aware of how they learn; understanding the role of styles as part of this is important (Sadler-Smith, 2012).
The PLSP is informed by extensive research and practice. In identifying the characteristics of enriched cognitive styles pedagogies as represented by the PLSP, a full systematic and thematic analysis was undertaken of over 700 research articles within the cognitive styles field between 1999-2013. The PLSP is informed by a number of theoretical education positions and evidences an integrated approach where we have used the most relevant educational theories to support the development of our pedagogic framework. The PLSP is informed by an integration of cognitivist and socio-cultural theoretical perspectives (Cobb, 1994; Packer & Goicoechea, 2000; Saxe, 1991) and, social critical theory (Butin, 2005) to reflect the importance of our development of an inclusive participatory pedagogy approach. The PLSP can be used in a wide variety of educational contexts to examine and manage the role of individual and contextual variables impacting learning.
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