Learning and academic performance has been researched for many centuries to provide valuable strategies of improving education. Learning styles are as a result of these researches for the purposes of creating valuable insights of learning approaches. Several theories have been devised to enhance learning and general academic performances. There is substantial acceptance that an individual’s inclination to one theory or another plays a major role in their performance (Reynolds & Vince, 2007). Such theories include Kolb (1984) experiential learning theory and visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory. This paper provides a comparison between these theories as well as contrasting them.
Kolb’s experiential learning theory is focused on four major learning preferences which include abstract conceptualization, active experimentation, concrete experience and reflective observations. These four learning preferences offer ways of comprehending an individual’s learning approaches and also provide an explanation for understanding experimental cycles for all learners (Beard & Wilson, 2013). Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory indicates that individuals have their preferred mode of receiving new information. The modes of information reception in this theory include eyes, ears and movement. It explains that one sense of receiving information may be highly utilized by one individual than it is utilized by another individual (Jeral, 2010).
The two theories emphasize the differences in individuals in terms of their preferences to adopting a learning approach. However, Kolb’s experiential learning theory explains that learning is a process consisting of the four learning preferences that make a cycle. In this theory, concrete experience is based on individuals’ feelings towards the people around them. The feelings affect the individuals’ approaches to learning since they do not apply strategic approaches to learning (Kolb, 1984). Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory, on the other hand, is concerned with information intake rather than a source of information itself (Walling, 2006).
In Kolb’s experiential learning theory, immediate experiences form the basis of observations and reflections in the learning cycle. These reflections and observations are assimilated and reconstructed in the process of recalling a concept (Reynolds & Vince, 2007). Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory involves a recalling process that associates a concept with what an individual has seen, heard or felt depending on their preferred sense. The theory further indicates that individuals do not have differences in their visual and auditory capabilities unless they have physical disabilities (Caviglioli & Harris, 2003). Higher learning capabilities are based on the intensity of the individual’s preference to a specific sense of information reception. This concurs with the experiential learning theory in that differences in learning capabilities are due to the level of preference.
In terms of information storage in memory, there are similarities between the two theories. Walling states that information is not actually stored as auditory and visual as sounds and sights respectively. Instead, the two are stored in the form of related concepts that are reconstructed during the recalling process to form visual and auditory concepts. For example, information gained through another person as a narrative or instructions can be recalled by drawing the look and feel of the venue and the narrator together to form the information (Walling, 2006). Kolb’s experiential learning theory also explains that the concrete experiences stored in the human memory are reconstructed in order to be recalled since they are not usually stored as complete information (Beard & Wilson, 2013).
Emotional inclinations usually affect the process of learning as the two theories implicate due to the human nature. Kolb (1984) explains that an individual’s preference to a specific approach is due to emotional experiences. He outlines that the experience transforms information into usable and applicable form due to preferences that are in turn heavily affected by emotions (Reynolds & Vince, 2007). Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory also portrays how emotions enhance a learner’s ability to grasp specific concepts. A teacher’s facial expressions and bodily movements send a message to the learners on the importance of the teachings that the teacher is giving to the learners. Some learners are able to judge the teacher’s mood based on their sound or facial expressions. These experiences thus determine a learner’s preference to certain concepts and senses in the learning process (Jeral, 2010).
Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory is mostly concerned the modalities of gaining information in the learning process. The experimental learning theory does not solely concentrate on the process of gaining information, but it portrays the learning process as a cycle that includes receiving information and recalling it when needed. Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory explains that age influences the mode of receiving information. For instance, kindergarten learners are presented with information kinesthetically while elementary school learners are mostly taught using visual elements. Colleges and higher learners mostly gain concepts through auditory means (Caviglioli & Harris, 2003).
The experiential learning theory explores learning as a complete and interrelated process. It states that people have divergent perspectives on learning that are assimilated into logical concepts. Converging learning styles bring persons with similar preferences who can work together to solve specific problems such as doing researches together. The feelings of these individuals incline them into the same preferences through accommodation. It is, therefore, related to the preferences of individuals as stipulated in the Visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory. The two theories agree that preferences are due to individuals’ means of solving specific problems in life that, as a result, assist in the learning process (Beard & Wilson, 2013).
The experiential learning theory can be of great importance to an organization because it explains individual differences that can be manipulated to achieve organizational goals. Diverging ideas of individuals in an organization can be used constructively to complement the abilities of different persons. Since the different preferences result in similar understanding of various concepts, the theory can provide multiple perspectives of solving problems (Reynolds & Vince, 2007).
The theory’s assimilation learning style brings together different concepts by individuals in different forms thus providing multiple forms of relaying information so that it can be grasped comprehensively. Converging learning style in the theory is essential when dealing with projects that need a lot of team work. Individuals with similar preferences can be placed in the same groups to enhance their capabilities. Accommodating learning style enables individuals in an organization to work together by appreciating their differences and using them constructively (Reynolds & Vince, 2007).
Application of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic theory can have many benefits to the organization. Understanding the different means by which organization stakeholders grasp information can be used to optimize their capabilities. For instance, persons with strong visual capabilities can be assigned tasks that require visual senses. The same thing applies to the method used to communicate information to the organization’s stakeholders. Persons with similar sensory preferences can also be grouped together to enhance their learning and working experiences in the organization. Moreover, the differences can be used to complement the stakeholders’ capabilities (Jeral, 2010).