Personality and Learning Style

Kolb’s experimental learning theory discusses a four-stage cycle that an individual will progress through in learning. The cycles are as follows:

Concrete Experience – The first stage of the learning cycle is created by choosing new experiences or by taking action based on one’s reinterpretation of an existing experience. In this stage, it is important for the learner actively involve in the task, rather than read or observe it in motion.

Reflective Observation – In this stage, after the learner engages in the task, the learner will reflect on this newfound experience. The learner may/will also review any inconsistencies between his/her experience and the understanding of the task.

Abstract Conceptualization – In the third stage, the reflection of his/her experiences and understanding will result in drawing a conclusion from the events that occurred. Either by it giving rise to a new idea, or to the modification of an existing abstract concept or idea.

Active Experimentation – In the fourth stage, learner puts their idea(s) into practice. The learner may also use the acquired knowledge for analyzing tasks and/or forecasting the results of a task.
Kolb’s learning is cyclical which means the learner can enter the cycle at any stage. However, it is vital for the learner to complete all four quadrants. The cycle can be broken into four quadrants, whereby the x-axis represents the processing continuum and the y-axis represents the perception continuum. The four quadrants are Accommodating, Diverging, Assimilating, and Converging, as shown below.

Accommodative – Accommodative learning style relies primarily on active experimentation (Doing) and concrete experience (Feeling). People of this learning style are hands-on (doing things) and rely on intuition (feeling) rather than logic, in their tasks and plans. They are able to alter/create their own path based on the immediate situation. They would seek opportunities, take risks and likely discard plans and theories in shaping their path. 

Divergent – Divergent learning relies primarily on concrete experience (Feeling) and reflective observation(Watching). People of this learning style view things from different perspectives, gather information and prefer observation rather than action.  Since they take an original and creative approach in learning, they strive in social groups, are open-minded, and prefers to work in situations that call for the generation of ideas, e.g. “brainstorming” session.

Assimilative – Assimilative learning relies primarily on abstract conceptualization (Thinking) and reflective observation (Watching). People of this learning style emphasizes reasoning and are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. It is more important for concepts and theory to be logically sound, precise, and enjoys designing experiments.

Convergent – Convergent learning relies primarily on the dominant learning abilities of abstract conceptualization(Thinking) and active experimentation (Doing). People with a convergent learning style are best in problem-solving, decision-making, and the practical application of ideas.  The style suggests a preference for task accomplishment than social or interpersonal experiences. 

Although the stages work together, people often have a dominant preference for one of the four styles. 

Carl Jung on the other hand focuses on inborn models of people’s behavior and personalities. According to Jung, the human psyche was composed of three components:

The ego – represents the conscious mind.
The personal unconscious – represents our memories
The collective unconscious – represents our hereditary traits or ancestral memories.

His research on the collective unconscious is known as Jungian Archetypes, which have four major archetypes.

The Persona – The persona is the outward face we present to the world. The persona represents all of the different masks that we wear to shield our negative ego (conscious mind) among various groups and situations, in order to fit in society.

The Anima/Animus – The “anima/animus” is the mirror image of our biological sex, that is, the anima represented the feminine qualities in men while the animus is the masculine qualities in women. 

The Shadow – The Shadow is the dark side of someone’s personality. It comprises everything one repressed, including, desires, instincts, and ideas. That is unacceptable not only to society but also to one’s own personal morals and values. 

The Self – Is the archetype of the psychical totality (conscious and unconscious)  or the wholeness, which provides a sense of unity in the experiences. The realization of the Self is the ultimate goal of the individuation process for moving in the direction of a more humanist orientation.

In addition to the four main archetypes, they are also twelve other archetypes (caregiver, ruler, creator, innocent, sage, explorer, magician, rebel, hero, lover, jester, and everyman). These 12 archetypes can be grouped into 4 cardinal orientations.

Ego – Those within this orientation wants to leaving a mark or making an impact on the world. They want their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs to make an impact on society and survive in the future.
Social – Those within this orientation strives to form intimate connections with others. Building relationships, trust, and collaborating with people are important to their values.
Order – Those within this orientation provides some form of structure or order to the world. They will focus on research and analysis in understanding which rules that best fits the situation.
Freedom – Those within this orientation yearn to realize their own sense of paradise. They are flexible and open-minded, seeking opportunities and actively expanding their skills. 

Each archetype played a role in our personality, however, most people were dominated by one specific archetype. 

A close examination of  Kolb’s learning style and Jung’s cardinal orientation can provide a linkage between the two models.
The Accommodative Learning Style is people who seek opportunities, take risks and shape their own path. A close examination of Jung’s cardinal orientation shows their traits aligned to the Order Cardinal Orientation, that is, wanting their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs to make a positive impact and survive in the future.

The Divergent Learning Style is people who are social, open-minded, and prefers to work in situations that call for the generation of ideas, shares traits to the Social Cardinal Orientation, strive to form intimate connections with others.

The Assimilative Learning Style is people emphasize reasoning and are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts, shares traits to the Freedom Cardinal Orientation, of yearning to realize its own sense of paradise.

The Convergent Learning Style is people are best in problem-solving, decision-making, and the practical application of ideas in situations where there is one solution. This learning style shares traits with the Ego Cardinal Orientation, provide some form of structure or order to the world.

In conclusion, our personality can influence our dominant learning style.

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