Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

Defining Learning Styles and Strategies

 Learning Styles and Learning Strategies


Sometimes styles and strategies seem to be used as synonym, which is very confusing, so let me start by giving a short definition for each of them:


Ø      Cognitive style is a term describing the quite permanent, partly inhereted and partly learned way the individual thinks, how s/he perceives and stores / recalls information from the memory.


Ø     Learning style is the personal approach to learning and strongly related to the existing cognitive style. It describes the particular way individual approaches learning tasks or  information in order to solve problems. While cognitive style is very enduring, our learning style can vary somewhat during life, because it derives from our worldview and beliefs.


Ø      Learning strategy is the term used to describe the very specific actions learners intentionally or automatically take when they are faced learning tasks.


Some people seem to possess good learning skills by nature, either because of their good thinking and analyzing skills, or because of their excellent memory. Even for those people the education about learning strategies/metacognitive skills is very beneficial, because intentionally chosen strategies work better in different situations. It would be insane to try to memorize every single detail about the world history, as you can easily look things up from a book or the internet, just as it would be insane not to memorize the alphabet or multiplication table. The same strategy just won't work in every situation. Good learning strategies are the chosen tools for successful learning. There will be more about strategies in the tab of meta-cognitive tools.


Not to teach students about good learning strategies would be almost equivalent to abandoning them into woods without relevant survival skills. The constant flow of (mis)information that surrounds us in everyday life is thick like a jungle, and easily leads us astray. Our mental capacity provides us with compensatory skills, though, so the lack of study skills is not as obvious as the lack of survival skills would be in the woods. But, why not help students learn good study and self-assessment skills from the start?





More about learning in the book:


Not all education reform is the same. There is a different model:

The Fourth Way is a way of inspiration and innovation, of responsibility and sustainability. The Fourth Way does not drive reform relentlessly through teachers, use them as final delivery points for government policies, or vacuum up their motivations into a vortex of change that is defined by short-term political agendas and the special interests with which they are often aligned.Rather, it brings together government policy, professional involvement, and public engagement around an inspiring social and educational vision of prosperity, opportunity, and creativity in a world of greater inclusiveness, security, and humanity ( Hargreaves & Shirley 2009, p. 71).

This is what The Finnish Way looks like:

In the Fourth Way of Finland, teachers design and pursue high quality learning and shared goals and improve their schools continuously through professional teamwork and networks, from evidence, and from literature in their trade. (Sahlberg, 2011)

Finland has shown the effect of this empowerment-based education reform in several consecutive PISA results.

Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future of educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Sahlberg, P. (2011). The fourth way of Finland. Journal of Educational Change,12(2), 173-185.