Personalised learning environments (part 2): a conceptual model for construction

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<ul><li><p>Personalised learning environments (part 2):a conceptual model for construction</p><p>S.M. Syed-Khuzzan and J.S. Goulding</p><p>Abstract</p><p>Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual model for a PLE prototype, specifically</p><p>incorporating learning styles for the UK construction industry.</p><p>Design/methodology/approach The initial research methodology approach adopted for this paper</p><p>embraced the distillation of core research material gathered from a detailed literature review. The</p><p>literature review encompassed the needs and importance of developing a PLE prototype, and used as a</p><p>context learning styles for the UK construction industry. A qualitative approach was used in this</p><p>research, as this was considered more suitable for studying social and cultural phenomena. This paper</p><p>explores the relationship between pedagogy and technology in the context of the design and</p><p>implementation of a PLE. The implementation framework for the PLE adopted the principles of the</p><p>Collaborative System Design approach as identified by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL)</p><p>Initiative Guidelines.</p><p>Findings This paper describes the development phases of the PLE prototype incorporating learning</p><p>styles. This prototype incorporates a learning style inventory known as the diagnostic questionnaire</p><p>which was developed based on the amalgamation of three existing models of learning styles defined</p><p>from a detailed synthesis of the literature namely the Kolbs model of learning styles, Honey and</p><p>Mumfords model of learning styles and the Felder and Solomons model of learning styles.</p><p>Originality/value This paper is a very useful source in developing a learning style inventory and a PLE</p><p>prototype incorporating learning styles.</p><p>Keywords Learning, Learning styles, Questionnaires</p><p>Paper type Conceptual paper</p><p>1. Introduction</p><p>This paper introduces a conceptual model for a PLE prototype incorporating learning styles</p><p>for the UK construction industry. The aim of the research was to develop a PLE prototype that</p><p>was able to accommodate individual learning styles for learners; tailored to suit to their own</p><p>preference of learning styles.</p><p>Learners often have different levels of motivation, different attitudes about teaching and</p><p>learning, and different responses to specific classroom environments and instructional</p><p>practices. In this context, the more thoroughly instructors understand these differences,</p><p>the better chance they have of meeting the diverse needs of their learners (Felder and</p><p>Brent, 2005). Furthermore, Karagiannidis and Sampson (2004) noted that there was a</p><p>general shortage of evidence to back up the belief that e-learning provided real</p><p>advantages the assumption of which was that the traditional mode of instruction</p><p>(one-to-many lecturing/one-to-one tutoring) could not fully accommodate the different</p><p>learning styles, strategies and preferences of diverse learners. Following this train of</p><p>thought, research is now being undertaken on adaptive learning environments that can</p><p>personalize the learning experience (Vercoustre and McLean, 2005; Karagiannidis and</p><p>Sampson, 2004).</p><p>DOI 10.1108/00197850910927769 VOL. 41 NO. 1 2009, pp. 47-56, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858 j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING j PAGE 47</p><p>S.M. Syed-Khuzzan and</p><p>J.S. Goulding are both</p><p>based at the University of</p><p>Salford, Salford, UK.</p></li><li><p>According to Felder and Silverman (1988) and McCarthy (1990), accommodating learning</p><p>styles in a classroom-based environment has been proven to be effective in previous</p><p>research; causing the need to explore the possibilities of incorporating learning styles in</p><p>e-learning environments.</p><p>2. Research methodology</p><p>The initial research methodology approach adopted for this paper embraced the distillation</p><p>of core research material gathered from a detailed literature review. The literature review</p><p>encompassed the needs and importance of developing a PLE prototype, and used as a</p><p>context learning styles for the UK construction industry. A qualitative approach was used in</p><p>this research, as this was considered more suitable for studying social and cultural</p><p>phenomena (Berger and Luckman, 1966). This paper explores the relationship between</p><p>pedagogy and technology in the context of the design and implementation of a PLE. The</p><p>implementation framework for the PLE adopted the principles of the collaborative system</p><p>design approach as identified by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative</p><p>guidelines (ADL, 2006).</p><p>3. Background research</p><p>Primarily, the aim of any e-learning program is to help learners achieve the prescribed</p><p>learning objectives (Larocque and Faucon, 1997). In this context, in a traditional classroom</p><p>environment, the instructor is present to guide the learners towards the objectives through a</p><p>variety of teaching strategies and learning activities; which is the opposite of e-learning. Due</p><p>to the independent learning involved in e-learning, learners need to be more self-motivated</p><p>and self directed in order to achieve the objectives of the course program; thus, the</p><p>responsibility for learning is transferred from the instructor to the learner (Martinez, 2002).</p><p>There is no single right way to teach; many instructors naturally confine their teaching to the</p><p>method that reflects their own learning style to the exclusion of others (Entwistle, 1981).</p><p>Smith and Kolb (1986) argued that students may reject a learning environment that does not</p><p>match their learning styles. It has been pointed out in the literature that designing a learning</p><p>environment that accommodates learners learning style is essential for effective learning.</p><p>Hence, since e-learning has influenced a great deal in the field of teaching, training and</p><p>development, thus causing a growing number of courses delivered over the web with</p><p>increasing numbers of students (Chang, 2001); initiatives to adapt learning styles in</p><p>e-Learning are considered essential.</p><p>3.1 Importance of incorporating learning style into a PLE</p><p>There is no single way to describe learning styles, as a number of definitions appear in the</p><p>literature (Sampson and Karagiannidis, 2002). For example, Conner (2005) defines learning</p><p>styles as . . . the ways you prefer to approach new information. Kolb (1976) saw learning</p><p>styles as the unique learning method presented by the learner during the learning process</p><p>and situation while Dunn (1990) described learning styles as . . . the way each learner</p><p>begins to concentrate, process and retain new and difficult information. In addition, Honey</p><p>andMumford (1992) define learning styles as . . . a description of the attitudes and behavior</p><p>which determine an individuals preferred way of learning. Moreover, Felder (1996)</p><p>describes learning styles as a persons characteristic strengths and preferences in the</p><p>ways they take in and process information.</p><p>Learning seems to be seen as an integral part of everyday life at work. The skill of knowing</p><p>how to learn is considered a must for every worker. It opens doors to all other learning and</p><p>facilitates the acquisition of other skills (Blackmoore, 1996). Student learning is a complex</p><p>multivariate phenomenon. Some individuals are heavily dominated by one learning style, or</p><p>are just particularly weak in one style; so, some learning activities are dominated by explicit</p><p>or implicit assumptions about learning styles (Honey and Mumford, 1992). The activity may</p><p>be geared to a particular style of learning as to cause a mismatch with any other learners</p><p>whose own major styles are different. Furthermore, there are learners whose learning styles</p><p>are wide spread, so there are learning activities which contain opportunities to learn in</p><p>different ways (Sims, 1990). According to Kim and Chris (2001) and Kolb (1984),</p><p>PAGE 48 j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAININGj VOL. 41 NO. 1 2009</p></li><li><p>educational research and practices have demonstrated that learning can be enhanced</p><p>when the instructional process accommodates the various learning styles of students.</p><p>Learners generally come from different backgrounds and have a great variety of differing</p><p>profiles, learning styles, preferences and knowledge hooks. Learning should be as</p><p>personalized as possible (Vincent and Ross, 2001) as a one size fits all approach has</p><p>been seen to be ineffective (Watson and Hardaker, 2005). However the, incorporation of</p><p>learning styles is said to bring an advantage during the development and implementation of</p><p>learning environments (Sims, 1990). Thus, the need for both teachers and trainers to take</p><p>learning styles into account appears to be greater today than before, due to the increasing</p><p>use of technology-aided instruction.</p><p>Technology offers a lot of new delivery mode options as compared to the traditional</p><p>face-to-face classroom format, including a variety of computer and television-based</p><p>delivery mode formats (Buch and Bartley, 2002). The development process based on</p><p>individual learning styles and preferences through adaptive technologies has been a</p><p>successful approach towards training that enables real-time performance evaluation</p><p>through behavioral and attitude measures (Watson and Hardaker, 2005). Furthermore,</p><p>OConner (1998) noted that technology offers new capabilities to reconstruct learning</p><p>environments around specific learning styles. In this context, individuals with specific</p><p>learning styles would have a preference for specific training delivery formats (Buch and</p><p>Bartley, 2002). Since e-learning has predominantly had a one size-fits all approach, the</p><p>idea of incorporating learning styles into the learning environment should enable learners to</p><p>learn more effectively and also be motivated to learn by building a road-map based on</p><p>their individual psychological types and learning preferences (Gunasekaren et al., 2002;</p><p>Sims, 1990).</p><p>Teachers or instructors should therefore:</p><p>B know the material well before beginning to teach;</p><p>B write objectives and keep them in focus from planning to evaluation;</p><p>B let the students know what the objectives are; and</p><p>B determine the learning style of students before teaching and educating students</p><p>according to their own learning style showing them how to cope (Vincent and Ross,</p><p>2001).</p><p>According to Vincent and Ross (2001), learners need to know what their own learning style is</p><p>in order to manage their learning more effectively and efficiently. At the same time, trainers</p><p>should also be aware of the learning styles of their students so that they can establish</p><p>alternate ways of teaching identical information to students. The Dunn and Dunn model of</p><p>learning styles prescribes that all individuals have a specific learning style; this differs from</p><p>person to person, and each person has learning style strengths or preferences (Pfeiffer et al.,</p><p>2005). The model suggests that it is easier to learn through ones strengths or learning style</p><p>preference. The central aim of the model is that the closer the congruence between</p><p>students learning style and their teachers teaching styles, the higher the level of</p><p>achievement (Pfeiffer et al., 2005). Also on this theme, Alsubaie (2006) suggested that</p><p>learning styles should be incorporated in a learning environment to achieve a holistic</p><p>environment that appeals to a whole raft of learners.</p><p> The skill of knowing how to learn is considered a must forevery worker. </p><p>VOL. 41 NO. 1 2009 j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAININGj PAGE 49</p></li><li><p>4. The PLE prototype incorporating learning styles: a conceptual model</p><p>The development of the PLE prototype is divided into two phases: the development of the</p><p>diagnostic questionnaire, which is the learning style inventory used to identify the learners</p><p>styles (phase 1); and the development of the prototype itself (phase 2). This is shown in</p><p>Figure 1.</p><p>Figure 1 shows the relationship of the diagnostic questionnaire to the development of the</p><p>PLE. In respect of the development of the PLE, pedagogy will be mapped with technology</p><p>using instructional design (ID) theories. ID theory is a theory that offers explicit guidance on</p><p>how to help people learn and develop (Reigeluth, 1999). This sets out procedural steps to</p><p>systematically design and develop instructional materials (Dick and Carey, 1990; Gagne</p><p>et al., 1988; Merrill et al., 1996). Learning objects will be used together with e-learning</p><p>standards and interoperability between delivery platforms, reusability of e-learning</p><p>materials, etc. A learning object is considered as any resource or content object that is</p><p>supplied to a learner by a provider with the intention of meeting the learners learning</p><p>objective(s) (Vercoustre and McLean, 2005). However, the current focus in the e-learning</p><p>community has predominantly been centered upon the development of technical</p><p>infrastructures that support reusability, interoperability, durability and accessibility of</p><p>Figure 1 PLE prototype incorporating learning styles conceptual model</p><p>PAGE 50 j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAININGj VOL. 41 NO. 1 2009</p></li><li><p>learning content (Bannan-Ritland et al., 2002; Hummel et al., 2004). Hence, the key</p><p>concepts behind learning objects is that they can be used and reused in different (and</p><p>multiple) learning contexts (Dahl and Nygaard, 1966). Put simply, learning objects are</p><p>something tangible that is produced by bringing together subject knowledge and</p><p>pedagogical expertise (Duncan, 2003). Notwithstanding these issues, the precise</p><p>development rubrics applied to PLEs will be discussed in further works.</p><p>4.1 Phase 1 development of diagnostic questionnaire</p><p>Coffield et al. (2004) noted that it is often difficult to teach students if we do not know what</p><p>their learning preferences are. In this context, this questionnaire aimed to identify a learners</p><p>learning style preference. The questionnaire was formed by amalgamating three models of</p><p>learning styles which was determined from the literature; namely Kolbs model of learning</p><p>styles, Honey and Mumfords model of learning styles, and Felder and Silverman model of</p><p>learning styles. It was formed with the basis that a learning style comprises the following</p><p>activities:</p><p>B perceive and process information (Kolb-LSI) (Kolb, 1984);</p><p>B process and organize information (H &amp; M-LSQ) (Honey and Mumford, 2006); and</p><p>B process and receive (or remember) information (FS-ILS) (Felder and Silverman, 1988).</p><p>For the benefit of the readers, the three-core model of learning styles were identified after a</p><p>detailed synthesis of the literature review. These were considered the most suitable for this</p><p>research as being the most cited and commonly used in a web-based learning environment;</p><p>i.e. INSPIRE (Honey and Mumford model of LS), CS388, LSAS and Tangow (Felder and</p><p>Silverman model of LS) (see Stash et al., 2004, for further details). These models have also</p><p>been successfully implemented in traditional classroom scenarios.</p><p>4.1.1 Process of development of the diagnostic questionnaire for learning styles. Upon</p><p>choosing the three models of learning styles, the overall development process of the</p><p>Diagnostic Questionnaire was divided into three stages (see Syed-Khuzzan and Goulding,</p><p>2008).</p><p>Development stage 1: this stage wa...</p></li></ul>


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