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Differences in

people differ from each other

Psychologists have identified two main factors that

may explain individual Differences

i. the learning traits that a student brings when
confronted with a learning task and
ii .the thinking and learning skills that are activated
as demanded by the task (Jonassen and Grabowksi,

Learning Traits
refer to aptitudes for learning, willingness to learn,

styles of learning, preferences for learning and the

prior knowledge of students.
These traits have an impact on the learning process
and determine how well an individual is able to

Learning Tasks
determine the thinking and learning skills

For example, if a task requires a learner to go
beyond the information given in the text, than the
student will have to make or draw inferences.


learning styles,
and prior knowledge

Learning style
relates to the preferences for different types of

learning and instructional activities.

These styles are generally measured by self-report
techniques (paper and pencil tests) that ask
individuals how they prefer tol earn.
For example,
Do you prefer to learn alone or in groups?
The learning style of Student A may be different
from that of Student B, which may explain the
differences in the way the two individuals learn.

describes how an individual interacts with his or her

environment and especially with other people.

Personality is the mental disposition or inclination to
behave in certain ways.
In this topic, we will focus on personality types
which affect learning more directly

Prior knowledge
refers to what the learner already knows and how

what is known, is organised.

Besides the facts and concepts of a particular body of
knowledge, it also includes the skills and learning
abilities that individuals previously acquired.

Learning Style
ways in which a student processes information
The key word is preferred which describes a person

typical mode of paying attention, organising

information in the mind and then retrieving or
recalling it.
cognitive style is applied to an educational setting, it is
generally referred to as learning style which is
made up of the cognitive, affective (feelings &
emotions) and physiological traits

three well-known explanations of learning style

(a) Field Independence and Field Dependence
FI/FD describes the extent to which a
person is affected by the environment.
FD persons are global, meaning that
they are highly influenced by the environment.
FI persons are more analytical and are
more interested in details and more inclined

towards spotting discrepancies

Field dependent people are more affected by the position of the square
when aligning the rod so that they fail to align it vertically by as much as 30
degrees. Field independent people ignore the square and align the rod

Implications for Teaching and

Musser (2000) concluded that:
FD learners are more likely to excel at learning tasks:
that are group-oriented and involve collaborative

work where individuals need to be sensitive to social

cues from others in situations where students must
follow a standardised pattern of
performance which include tests requiring
learners to recall information in the form that was

FI learners
that involve structured problem solving, especially

where learners must figure out the underlying
organisation of ideas, such as concept mapping or
that involve the use of a lot of language, such as
information that is ambiguous or disorganised
that require predicting, generating metaphors and
that require learners to evaluate information.

must be able to involve himself fully, openly and without bias in new
experiences (Concrete Experience), he must be able to reflect on and observe
these experiences from many perspectives (Reflect and Observe), he must be
able to create concepts that integrate his observations into logically sound
theories (Abstract Concepts), and he must be able to use these theories to make
decisions and solve problems (Experimentation). (Kolb 1975, my parentheses)

Kolbs Learning Style

He identified four types of learning styles: divergers,

assimilators, convergers and accommodators

Learners who are divergers are

able to assimilate different pieces of information into

an integrated whole;
able to generate many ideas;
imaginative and intuitive;
open-minded; and
able to relate to others.

Learners who are assimilators are:

logical and precise;
scientific and systematic;
analytical and good at quantitative tasks;
good at theory building;
good organisers of information; and
good at inductive reasoning.

Learners who are convergers are:

good at problem solving, especially technical tasks;
good at deductive reasoning;
able to apply ideas to practical situations;
able to create new ways of thinking and doing;
pragmatic and unemotional;
able to influence others and situations; and
focused and able to make decisions.

Learners who are accommodators are:

action and results oriented;
opportunity seeking and seeking new experiences;
risk takers and pragmatic;
intuitive and artistic;
open-minded and people oriented;
personally involved in what they do; and
able to adapt to new situations

Implications for Teaching and Learning

Carrier, Williams and Dalgaard (1988) found
that students with different learning styles showed

distinctly different preferences for note-taking.

Students who were accommodators and
divergers, did not practise note-taking seriously.
Students who were assimilators and convergers,
copied verbatim information from the teacher.

Divergers are more likely to excel

Divergers are good at

Gathering information in
novel ways
Open-ended assignments
Individualised learning
Making sense of situations
that are ambiguous
Sensitive to values and

searching for information

evaluating information
generating examples and
imaging or illustrating
inferring causes

Assimilators are more likely to

Assimilators are good at

Organising information
Testing theories and ideas
Designing experiments
Analysing quantitative data

selecting information sources

validating information
analysing key ideas
predicting outcomes
inferring causes

Convergers are more likely to
excel at

Convergers are good at

Creating new ways of thinking

and doing
Experimenting with new
Choosing the best solution
Setting goals
Making decisions

setting learning goals

validating authenticity of
repeating material to be
predicting outcomes

Accommodators are more likely to
excel at

Accommodators are good at

Those that lack structure

Committing to objectives
Seeking and exploring
Influencing and leading others
Being personally involved and
dealing with people

generating personal
providing concrete
examples to apply
using a concrete to abstract

Take three of your students (A, B, and C). Label the position of each on the
three scales below with the letters.
For each student, what difference will this information make to your
design of his or her curriculum?

Personality and Learning

early Greek philosophers classified human

behaviour as consisting of four temperaments or

personality types, based on the amount of different
bodily fluids
Sanguine (people who are sociable, enthusiastic,
contented pleasure-seeking and sociable );
(b) Melancholic (people who are sad, anxious,
worried, serious /introverted and thoughtful);
(c) Choleric (people who are irritable and hotheaded ambitious and leader-like); and
(d) Phlegmatic (people who are passive, calm,
controlled relaxed and quiet).

Phlegmatic (top left), choleric (top right), melancholic

(bottom right), and sanguine (bottom left).

Digman (1989) identified five personality



emotional stability,
Irritable/ neuroticism and
openness, (common acronyms are OCEAN,


The five factors

Openness (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious).

Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas,

curiosity, and variety of experience.
Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easygoing/careless). A tendency to show self-discipline, act
dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than
spontaneous behaviour.
Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved).
Energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to
seek stimulation in the company of others.
Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs.
cold/unkind). A tendency to be compassionate and
cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards
Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). A
tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as
anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability.

For example,
a Conscientiousness rating in the 80th percentile

indicates a relatively strong sense of responsibility

and orderliness, whereas an Extraversion rating in
the 5th percentile indicates an exceptional need for
solitude and quiet. Although these trait clusters are
statistical aggregates, exceptions may exist on
individual personality profiles. On average, people
who register high in Openness are intellectually
curious, open to emotion, interested in art, and
willing to try new things. A particular individual,
however, may have a high overall Openness score
and be interested in learning and exploring new
cultures but have no great interest in art or poetry.

Miller (1988) who identified

four distinct personality types:
(a)Reductionists are individuals who are scientific,

impersonal, precise, value free, realistic, controlled and

sceptical. 'Talk and Do'
(b) Schematists are individuals who are conceptual,
theoretical, imaginative, value-free, ambiguous and
speculative. 'Think and Be',
(c) Gnostics are individuals who are artistic, personal,
value-based, non rational, involved, biased and have
personal knowledge. 'Think and Do
(d) Romantics are individuals who are political, personal,
value-based, uncertain, imaginative and speculative ;Talk
and Be'

THREE selected characteristics of

personality in terms of their direct
influence on learning
locus of control
and achievement motivation.

feelings of tension, apprehension and nervousness

(Spielberger, 1972).
This emotional state can cause negative effects, such
as disrupting learning.
Anxiety is manifested in sweating hands, increased
heart rate, high blood pressure, distress and even
Anxiety also has a positive side in that it enhances
interest and excitement.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, worry or

dread. It is normal for people to worry, but some

people worry excessively and uncontrollably. It is
considered a disorder if the anxiety has been going
on for at least 6 months. Anxiety neurosis is a
disorder where the patient is excessively and
inappropriately anxious and often this state is
associated with other symptoms such as chest pain,
constriction of the throat, or cold, sweaty

Characteristic Differences in Anxiety

High Anxiety
Low Anxiety
Better performance on simple tasks Better performance on

complex tasks
Difficulty in communicating
Good communication skills
Negative self-image
Positive self-image
Lack of ambition
Hides emotions
Shows emotions
Tense posture
Relaxed posture

Implications for Teaching and Learning

learning tasks

teaching should:

simple and less complex;

are mechanical and
are repetitive;
require shallow processing;
are supported with visual

use more extensively, audio-visual

aids such as TV and multimedia;
use more frequently, graphic
organisers and overviews;
use open-book evaluation
provide positive feedback and
provide for gradual transition from
one chunk of information to
break down information into
smaller chunks; and
reduce the importance of test taking

Locus of Control
refers to an individual feelings about the placement

of control over his or her life events and who is

responsible for those events.
Locus of control describes an individuals belief
regarding the causes of his or her experiences; those
factors to which an individual attributes his or her
successes or failures.

: Characteristic Differences in Locus of Control

Negative self-image
Risk takers

Fear of failure
Positive self-image

Implications for Teaching and Learning

help students

Teacher has to

Instruction should be highly

structured with clear goals and
Teaching materials should be more
visual and graphic and less verbal;
Instruction should incorporate
movements and kinaesthetic
Teachers should provide praise and
rewards after the learner responses
Provide more individual attention;
work under observation rather than in
Introduce a contract-for-grade plan;
Develop learning to learn skills to
increase internal locus of control; and
Gradually reduce structure and cueing,
so that learners can proceed on their
own with more difficult tasks.

Provide inductive
Ask students to provide
their own structure for the
information given;
Provide tasks that require
analytical thinking;
Provide problem-solving
situations, especially where
learners must select and
apply relevant information;
Provide complex tasks that
require persistence.

extroversion describes people whose thinking and

behaviour are directed outward or to the

surrounding environment while
introversion, describes people whose thinking and
behaviour are directed inward or to oneself.

Characteristic differences between extroverts and


Implications for Teaching and Learning

Extroverted Learners

Introverted Learners

learning tasks that require rapid

processing of information;
tasks that present large amounts of
information that are multimodal and
tasks that involve social and
behavioural assessment (e.g. group
participation is assessed);
tasks that are group-oriented, involving
collaborative activities;

learning tasks that are visual,

imaginable or involve spatial
tasks that require organising and
structuring information for recall;
learning tasks involving analysis for
problem solving;
tasks that require learners to evaluate
tasks that require the paraphrasing and
summarising of information;
tasks that require imagining or
illustrating knowledge; and
tasks that arouse learners with novelty,
uncertainty or surprise.

Achievement Motivation
individuals willingness to achieve.
the need to accomplish something difficult such as

completing all the problems given

McClelland (1961) and Atkinson (1964) designated
two contrasting types of personality traits with
regards to achievement motivation: those with the
motive (need) to succeed, and those who have a
motive (need) to avoid failure

Jonassen and Grabowksi

(1993) proposed that:
Students with the Motive to
Achieve Success

Motive to Avoid Failure

Are very important;

Require their attention;
Are long-term;
Require independent thoughts and
Allow them to assume leadership roles
that capitalise on their desire to
Encourage more independent study;
Provide for active experimentation;
Use discovery learning;
Provide lessons in large chunks; and
Use feedback as diagnostic
information, especially success

Make available extra help;

Provide for immediate feedback;
Provide many opportunities for
positive feedback;
Help students select realistic goals;
Provide opportunities for learners to
experience success;
Use tests for diagnostics rather than
Invite students to select their own goals
and activities;
Deal with failure privately (do not
ridicule learners in front of others);
Use a mastery approach.

Prior Knowledge
Prior knowledge consists of the knowledge, skills or

abilities that a student brings to

the learning environment (Jonassen and Grabowski,
Knowledge refers to the prerequisite knowledge that
is necessary to understand new information

prior knowledge will likely enhance any learning

(a)Problem solving and transfer of learning;
(b) Comprehension of material to be learned;
(c) Retention and recall of material;
(d) Reasoning ability;
(e) Integration of knowledge;


Blooms Taxonomy of Learning Objectives

Gagnes Taxonomy of Learning

(i) Verbal Information: Verbal information is similar to Blooms

knowledge level and it requires learners to only memorise and recall
information without understanding or applying it.
(ii) Concrete Concepts: Concrete concepts are based on discrimination
between members and non-members of a concept without extensive
awareness of the basis of classification.
(iii) Defined Concepts: Defined concepts are understood through their
definitions, i.e. through their defining characteristics. They are the
basis for most understanding.
(iv) Rule: Rules are the statement of relationships between two or more
concepts. Most often, they indicate cause-effect relationships. Using
rules implies that learners apply those statements in a new situation.
(v) Higher Order Rule: Higher order rules are more general statements of
relationships, usually referred to as principles. The use of higher order
rules is similar to problem solving. It requires the learner to select,
interpret and apply appropriate rules.
(vi) Cognitive Strategy: Cognitive strategies are techniques for solving
problems or for acquiring new information. Learning to learn is a
cognitive strategy.

Gagnes Taxonomy of

Merrills Component Display Theory



Stages of cognitive development according to Piaget
1. Sensorimotor Stage: Birth To Two Years
object concept. object permanence.
2. Preoperational Stage: Two To Seven Years
egocentric/inability to classify.
3. Concrete Operational Stage: Seven to 11 Years
only think about actual physical objects
..but cannot handle abstract reasoning.

Formal Operational Stage: 11 Years And Beyond to think abstractly and can solve complex

and hypothetical problems involving abstract

Learning from Text

learning to read
Reading involves three interlocking processes:
(a) Decoding translating orthographics or marks on

paper into words

(b) Comprehension translating words into meanings
(c) Studying extracting meaning for future use

two important metacognitive skills:

skill of awareness
an accurate appreciation of the overriding purpose of

reading, enables the reader to focus on extracting the

essential meaning of the text.
The skilled reader is also aware when he or she does
not understand a word or phrase or sentence.
To know that you know and know that you do not

skilled reader knows that he does not know, he does

something about it,

Teaching Techniques
Model how to recall prior knowledge.
Model how to set a purpose.
Model how to choose a reading strategy.
Model how to execute the strategy.
Model how to monitor for meaning.
Model how to organize information.
Model how to apply knowledge gained from
Discuss these processes with students by asking
what they know about a topic, how they plan to
read a selection and what they might do if they do
not understand what they are reading.

Enhancing Reading Through Instruction

Informed Teaching
Use of Metaphors
Group Discussion
Guided Practice
Bridging to the Content Areas

strategies which may be used
Underlining and Highlighting
Summarising and Note-Taking

Three stages in the development of

summarising skills.
Hidi & Anderson (1986)
deficiency stage,no sense of relative

importance. ..see what is important as what is

interesting to them
inefficiency stage,shows some sense of relative
importance, but the focus is still on the sentence
efficiency stage

Effective notes s
1. serve as a summary of the main points of

the material.
2. should include enough details and examples
so that the learner can completely understand and
recall the information later
3. should show the relative importance of ideas and
reflect the organisation of the material.

Can Summarisation Skills be Taught?

can be taught.
Rinehart, Stahl and Erickson (1986) focused on

four summarisation rule operations:

explicit explanation
practice with feedback
breaking down of complex skills

Vocabulary Development Using Context Clues

the ability to recognise individual words and to

associate meaning with the particular combination of

letters that form the word.

four types of context clues

Logic of the Passage:


read the material the information must be
reviewed and studied, then transferred to the

readers long-term memory.

steps of the SQ3R

S- Survey
(i) Read the title (ii) Read the introduction
(iii) Read each boldface heading
(iv) Notice any maps, graphs, tables, diagrams and

read the last paragraph or summary

(v) Read through the end-of-topic questions

Q Question
turn each heading and sub-heading into a question.

R Read
Read the material, section by section. As you read,

look for the answer to the question you formed from

the headings and sub-headings of that section.

R Recite
Check to see if you can answer your question for the

section. If you cannot, look back and find the answer.

Then check your recall again.

R Review
recall your questions and try to answer. If you cannot

recall the answers, be sure to look back and find the


Two techniques teachers can use to help readers

learn from text:

1. Advance Organisers
The advance organiser can take many forms:
structured overviews, cartoons, stories, pictures,
drawings, newspaper cuttings, quotations, speeches,
poems, learning objectives, summaries and so forth.
An advance organiser is intended to prime the reader
into organising new information into appropriate
cognitive structures.

Three-Level Reading Guides

Literal Comprehension, Interpretive comprehension

and Applied Comprehension

Reading the lines, Reading between the lines
and Reading beyond the lines.