Practical use and examples

Although ELT has its critiques it can be use for preparing teaching units. It’s structure may vary depending on the number of students and different situations.

If a teacher has only one student he/she can prefer the student’s preferred learning style during the teaching unit. Still, the learning cycle should be run through but the preferred learning style can serve as a starting point (Fig. 2).
Here follows a concrete example for a one to one teacher-student situation: The learning objective is to teach the student how to deliver breaking bad news to the patient. In this example the student’s preferred learning style is converging. The student might therefore prefer to elaborate on the theoretical part of the task. As converger she might prefer to structure the task by developing a list of objectives or tasks. For example, the student will create a list of what to say to relatives, and how she plans to do so. Still staying a the more “theoretical hemisphere” (the lower half) of the learning cycle (Figure 1) she then proceeds to assimilating by gathering all relevant information about communication models and skills (see Figure 2). The student then proceeds into the “practical hemisphere” of the learning cycle and continues at the quarter of “accommodating” by talking to a standardized patient (SP) and obtains his feedback. In the fourth step, the student moves forward to the quarter of diverging. This part consists of reflection on her experience while performing to deliver breaking bad new to a standardised patient and on the feedback (e.g. from the SP). The list of objectives, which was prepared in step one (converging) and elaborated in step two(assimilating) can be used to find out what has been achieved, what needs to be modified or improved. By doing so the cycle is closed. The student than comes back the lower half of the cycle to elaborate more on the cognitive part of the task.

While the one-to-one situation is probably an exception, learning groups with 10 to 20 students may be more common. It could be assumed that in such groups each of the four learning styles is more or less represented, which should be used as a “vehicle” to reach the individual learner best and intensify the learning of the group. The teacher should be prepared to use different teaching methods according to the different learning styles (see above). These methods could be combined to include all types of learners. Small group discussions and team projects could be also used.

The following is an example for applying the learning style model to group teaching. It consists of 20 students. The learning objective is how to perform the examination of 5 muscle tendon reflexes (MTR). It is assumed that every learning style is represented in the group. In this example the teacher has planned to start the cycle in the upper left quarter, by looking for a student who prefers the accommodating learning style. The teacher does so by asking the students who would like to demonstrate how to perform the examination of the 5 MTR (see Figure 3). Thus the teacher is trying to start by a practical approach of the topic by initially involving students, who prefer to learn things by “doing”. In the terminology of the Kolb Model this is called “active experimentation” (AE). In the next step the teacher tries to apply to the observational skills of students who prefer a more observational style. The teacher asks the students to give a feedback on the performance and to reflect on further aspects of the task (RO). The 3rd step proceeds to the “theoretical hemisphere” of the learning cycle. This step is initiated by asking students for the pathophysiological background and clinical meaning of MTR, targeting for students who prefer an assimilating style. The final task may be to ask students to summarize all the collected information in a performance list for the examination of MTR. Repeating the examination and applying the performance list then close the cycle.

Certainly, many different teaching methods (i.e. Sandwich principles, Microteaching or Technical skills) can be used to get students involved at the several steps. Thus parts of a seminar could be done by working in small work groups, other by preparing summaries of literature, etc.

The Kolb Model can even be applied in large groups, for example in a group of 100 students. By using learning cells and applying the “sandwich principle” the teacher should try to get students involved.

CLearning Style Model
Fig. 2: Application of learning style model following the Kolb Model in 1-to-1 teacher - student situation. In this example the student's preferred learning style is converging

Learning Style Model
Fig. 3: The application of the learning style model following the Kolb Model in 1-to-20 teacher - student situation