Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
MichaelA, you know that division of learners into four types by David Kolb - thinkers (word people), doers, feelers (physical not emotional), and watchers? Do you think those four categories fit your students well? Does the group you describe above match one of Kolb's groups?
Or does your experience with skiers lead to different types of groups than Kolb's all-purpose set of learning styles? I'm interested in your thoughts.
I think every person's learning style is comprised of all four basic learning styles, and that each individual tends to favor select categories at one time or another. I've found people tend to migrate from one favored style to another depending on the context, the environment and their interest level in the moment. For instance I like analytical detail being provided even on-snow - when I'm not freezing cold and
when the provider knows what they're talking about. I'm definitely a DOER type when it's cold out there, or when the information provider is just guessing, BS'ing or repeating old information.
If the information provider is well informed
about how some movement pattern should feel
, then I'm happy being a Feeler-type and going with it. If the information provider is a Doer and just wants us to ski a pattern they've clearly described (and people "get it") then I'm happy being a Doer - but not if the target pattern has been poorly described or everyone is confused on what they should do. Here, everyone is forced to be a Doer, but without knowing what to do - so they guess.
What I'm suggesting here is that I find a person's own learning style adapts to what is being provided IF that presentation is worthwhile and being comprehended by them. If not, we sense the disconnect and dislike the presentation. I'm not saying we don't have general learning preferences, just that I think our preferences tend to come about due to the quality of what's being offered and our interest in that material at the time.
The standout group I mentioned above (that you quoted) generally seems comprised of those sensing an information-transfer failing (for whatever reason) while it's being presented. We aren't 'receiving' what we feel we need so we want to take what we've got and review/revise/reanalyze it on our own. It's not that we aren't Thinker preference types (though most in this group aren't) we're just not getting what we want from the delivering party. Sometimes, we just get tired of multiple reiterations of the same old idea (for instance, over-describing a pattern) and say, "Stop talking about it, let's just ski it!" Also, such people are generally pretty good taking a 70% understanding of a concept and working out the final 30% on our own.
When considering reception of technical material I find there's also the issue of pre-existing 'depth' to consider.
Beginning students and new instructors need brief, broadly descriptive explanations since they've no existing foundation to work from. Intermediate students (and instructors) already have the foundations and therefore desire more specific descriptions - but not too detailed - because they've the ability to comprehend more in the way of nuance, but not necessarily the nitty-gritty. When on snow they're still trying to implement the intermediate specifics so too much detail overwhelms them.
These intermediates are also becoming more interested in "Doing things Right" as they're now beyond the "Just staying alive!" stage
. Intermediate skiers also seem the ones having the most concern over "The right
way to ski" and often latch onto a mentor/authority figure. After that, all else they see or hear is compared to what their Ultimate Source says (though not necessarily what that Source actually does
- since this group by definition isn't yet capable of highly accurate observation and analysis).
Advanced students and instructors seem more interested in refined, detailed ideas and supporting information. They tend to detach themselves from authority figures because they've become educated enough to recognize there's no 'right' way to ski and that many other skiers outperform their past mentors and many other coaches provide better information as well.
Advanced students and instructors are much less concerned about the "rightness" of what they're doing and much more concerned about the "rightness" of their understanding. These people are happy to delve (briefly) into the minutia (assuming they're not cold or bored!) even when they're on snow. They seek a genuine depth of understanding and already possess the background and experience to comprehend highly refined information.
Ultimately I think too much emphasis is placed on preferred learning styles. We adapt our style based on what's working for us in the moment and I think the quality of deliverables plays a huge role in our receptivity in each style. Feed BS to an analytical person and they'll become a Doer in no time at all...