I've admired Richard Felder's work on learning styles of engineering students for years, so when I got him as a reading assignment (to summarize for the rest of my class) I was psyched. The essays are short and fun to read, so I do recommend looking at the links -- but for the time-pressed, here's a one-page summary of learning styles Felder covers. Always good to have more insights into the way you learn. For the record, I'm a strong Intuitor, almost entirely Global, and (as any of my more project-management-minded friends will tell you -- I'm sorry, Nikki and Sebastian) ridiculously in the realm of a Perceiver.
Stan is practical; he fixes cars, does perfectly in lab classes, but struggles with others, doing homework problems by trying to copy the steps of a book example in order to solve a new homework problem. He is a Sensor, favoring information from his senses. Sensors are attentive to details and don't like abstract concepts, frequently complaining that something "doesn't apply to the real world." Sensors like well-defined problems that can be solved by standard methods.
Nathan is scholarly and a bit spacy. He's a voracious reader who can't change a lightbulb, and does well in classes except for labs, where his results are always inconsistent. Nathan is an Intuiter and favors internally-generated information (memory, conjecture, interpretation) while being bored by details. Intuitors prefer problems that call for innovation.
Susan gets straight B's. She is a Sequential learner and gains understanding in a linear fashion, with each new piece of information building logically from previous pieces. School's structure works for her.
Glenda gets a mix of A's and C's. She is a Global learner who absorbs information almost randomly, in no apparent logical sequence. At the start of classes, she flounders -- but sometimes everything "clicks" and thereafter she can do problems intuitively (which is where the A's come from). Although these folks are often
global systems thinkers and potentially super-creative, the structure of school poses difficulties for them and they frequently drop out.
Art (studying for an exam): "Look at this question---he's used it for three years in a row." Art has an Achieving Orientation; his goal is to get good grades, which means finding out what the teacher wants and delivering it. If he needs to dig deep, he will; if he can get away with staying shallow, he will.
Rob: "Just tell me what formula I plug into, okay?" Rob has a Reproducing orientation. He's just memorizing, and tends to be extrinsically motivated.
Michelle: "I was trying to think why you would want to know the entrance length, and it seems to me that if you're designing a piping system that has a lot of short pipe segments it would be important to know how well your pressure drop formulas will work...blood flow again, in capillaries, or maybe lubricating oil in a car engine, or..." Michelle has a Meaning orientation, and wants to know how things she's learning are related and how they matter to her experience. Teachers wish they had more students like her.
Jill: "It's 4:30 and we haven't started yet...let's see...maybe if we study for about 45 minutes now, then I'll work on the report and we can get a pizza delivered, and that way we can leave at 7 to get to the movie..." Jill is a Judger, who plans ahead and budgets her time. However, they tend to jump to conclusions, make decisions prematurely, and doggedly adhere to agendas that may no longer be appropriate.
Perry: "Why don't we just get started and see where we are at 7 and decide then what to do, we can always skip the movie or go and study some more when we get back if we need to." Perry is a Perciever, who does as little planning as possible, preferring to remain flexible in case something better comes up. They tend to work in fits and starts, alternating between periods of unfocused activity and frantic races to meet deadlines. Their flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity will make some of them superb researchers.