Research on student learning has discovered significant differences in the way individuals process information and retain it, with implications for classroom teaching, student success and ways parents can support the learning process. The Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model defines two primary psychological modalities for acquiring and using new information: the global and the analytical.
Assessing Learning Styles
Research into how people learn reveals that every student has a unique profile of skills and strengths, and identifying and supporting these strengths lead to better outcomes. The Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model, developed in the 1960s by professors Rita and Kenneth Dunn, establishes five domains for successful learning: Environmental, Emotional, Sociological, Physiological and Psychological. A key distinction in Dunn and Dunn's Psychological domain, global and analytical learning styles, define how the brain processes information based on right or left hemisphere dominance.
The Global Style
The global style of learning takes in information holistically. Linked to right-hemisphere dominance in the brain, global learning begins with understanding concepts first, with mastery of details to follow. Global learners tend to be bored by memorizing facts and prefer to relate learning to personal experience, stories and anecdotes. These learners may work better in groups than alone and prefer to work on multiple tasks at once. Music or other background noise helps, rather than distracts, these learners, and they find learning easiest when information relates to the real world.
The Analytical Style
Analytical learners take in information sequentially, preferring to learn a series of facts that lead toward an understanding of a larger concept. Grounded in left-hemisphere dominance in the brain, analytical learning requires orderly, quiet surroundings. Analytical learners tend to work on one task to completion, preferring to study alone for long periods without interruption. These learners thrive in traditional classroom settings.
Implications for the Classroom
Understanding the key differences in student learning styles leads to better learning support. Numerous assessment tests allow individuals to determine their own learning styles and help parents and teachers find ways to encourage learning. Teachers can develop lesson plans that accommodate both styles, such as incorporating narratives and group work into lesson plans to accommodate global learners. At home, parents can better support their children's learning needs, by providing a brightly-lit, quiet area for an analytical learner or playing music in the background for a global learner.
Carla Jean McKinney has been writing professionally since 1989. She is the author of three nonfiction books and numerous published short works, as well as articles on natural sciences and the environment. Also a photographer, McKinney earned her Master of Arts at the University of Arizona and is a graduate of the Sessions School of Design.