A Unified Learning Style Model for Technology-Enhanced Learning: What, Why and How?

A Unified Learning Style Model for Technology-Enhanced Learning: What, Why and How?

Elvira Popescu (University of Craiova, Romania)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jdet.2010070105
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Abstract

This paper deals with the use of learning styles in technology-enhanced learning by introducing a “Unified Learning Style Model” (ULSM). The article aims at providing answers to three main questions: “What is ULSM?”, “Why do we need it?” and “How can we use it?” First, a critical analysis regarding learning styles is provided; the identified challenges are addressed by proposing the use of a new model, specifically designed for TEL use. This model integrates learning preferences extracted from several traditional learning style models, related to perception modality in a way for processing and organizing information, as well as motivational and social aspects. A detailed description of the ULSM components is provided together with its rationale and its advantages. The practical applicability of the model is also shown by briefly introducing an adaptive web-based educational system based on it (called WELSA).
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Learning Style Background

Learning style designates everything that is characteristic to an individual when she/he is learning, i.e. a specific manner of approaching a learning task, the learning strategies activated in order to fulfill the task. A widely accepted definition is given by Keefe (1979); according to it, learning style includes cognitive, affective, and psychological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment.

There has been a great interest in the field over the past 30 years, which led to the proliferation of proposed approaches. Coffield et al. (2004) identified 71 models of learning styles, among which 13 were categorized as major models, according to their theoretical importance, their widespread use and their influence on other learning style models. These models differ in the learning theories they are based on, the number and the description of the dimensions they include.

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