Self Assessment Paper
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The process of learning is critically important in all human beings and understanding your individual learning style is key for effective learning. Learning styles is defined as the composite of characteristic cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment (Keefe, 1979). Learning style is the way each person absorbs, understands and uses information.
Some of our learning style may be inherited. That is we are born with certain traits that affect how we learn. Learning styles are therefore very unique to each individual and as is also the case with myself. As a student in India I was used to studying in a structured environment and values were instilled by my parents, teachers and peers to study with high motivation and persistence. Bright light and formal classroom setting were the environmental factors that I was used to. I think this is mainly because I grew up in a tropical climate. For this reason I have a hard time studying in the winter season. Also I need a quiet environment to learn and do not like to be disturbed when I am learning.
Another major environmental factor that I was used to in India was a formal classroom setting. Even in the evenings we would go to tuition’s, which are small formal study groups. The teaching in India was very formal and analytical. That is why all Indians have strong math skills. Generally like all Indians I have strong preference to study in the afternoon and evenings. I learn best with physical lectures in classes given by professors, because lectures were the primary means of delivery in India.
I excel in learning with interactive instructional activities requiring physical involvement, for example building models doing laboratory experiments etc. I learn best by touching, moving and interacting with space. I have a strong preference for group learning than individual learning. This could be because of my Indian cultural background that values cooperation and mutual assistance among each other (Baumgart, Neil, Halse, Christine 1999). As a student in India I was used to learning in small groups. I am more a visual learner, than an auditory learner. Since I learn better through seeing I learn best through visual displays such as diagrams, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, blackboard, videos, charts, maps, graphs etc. I need to see the teacher’s body language and facial expression to understand the context of a lesson.
I usually take detailed notes during a lecture to better understand and absorb the information. Learning in India was basically by memorization. I am usually passive and nonverbal in class. I think this is because my culture encourages being humble. They do not want to show off what they know and also they do not want to feel humiliated in case their answers are correct. But going through my undergraduate classes in the United States has made me more active in class discussions. This is a classic example of how environmental factors help to change ones learning styles.
Numbers and analysis come naturally to me. As I have stepped into the work force, my mathematical and technical skills have certainly helped me. I learn by analysis and like to know how everything works before accepting anything. My analytical mind has helped me to develop good mathematical and reasoning skills. These have made me good at problem solving and have helped me to excel in my present job.
The high motivation and persistence to excel that was instilled in me in India has helped me to adopt different learning styles in order to adjust to the environment. The low structured environment has helped me to think on my own instead of just memorization and accepting the material in the textbooks or what the teacher is saying at face value. Understanding my learning skill gives me the power to improve my study skills. Since I learn best by seeing things I should read the textbook often. Make a chart with important information about a topic. Draw pictures and diagrams to learn about a topic. I realize that it is hard to change ones learning style. I think the key is to develop strategies that favor my learning style but will allow to deal for situations where my learning style is not effective.
Through the past eight years I have lost some of my learning style characteristics that I had in India. I also have developed good learning techniques to deal with my new environment. I have and plan to become more vocal in class discussions and increase my self-confidence to participate in discussions. I plan to develop strategies to overcome my learning style like developing strong goals, implementing new tactics to solve problems, discover new methods of learning, assess my performance on a regular basis and revise goals based on my performance. In future I plan to enhance my present learning style if it is not ideal for a situation.
I want to improve my learning style so that I am more people-oriented and be more proactive in class discussions. I think the online learning environment is flexible and can help me to tailor my learning more closely to my own style. I think it a good step for me as I feel I am contributing a lot more to the class discussions than I would have done in a normal classroom environment.
The online environment will work well for me as I am motivated and a self-starter with a discipline to get the job done. The online environment is ideal for my learning style as I cannot be easily distracted. In future I plan to use both sides of my brain. My left-brain, the analytical brain is the strong one. I need to use more of my right brain that can help fill in the gaps left by my left-brain.
I think learning is a continuous and lifelong process and we don’t need to be branded into one learning style. I also think that the environment that you live in will help you to change your learning styles to learn effectively in the new environment. I plan to alter some of the learning techniques that I developed in India that were suitable to that environment and replace them with new learning techniques that are more suitable to my present environment.
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